Each category of tea has its unique qualities, from liquor color to leaf appearance to taste. Theoretically, we can take any tea leaf and make it into any category of tea - but, the three main pillars make all of the differences:
Varietal: Different varieties of tea have different characteristics. Similar to the difference between a Pinot Noir and a Merlot; or a Gala apple and a Granny Smith apple. Today there are over 3,000 cultivars of tea in the world, each producing its characteristics.
Terroir: Where tea grows has a significant impact on the final product. Taste and aroma changes depending on a variety of terroir specific factors, such as elevation, soil, climate, rainfall, and surrounding vegetation. It’s the same concept that we see in other industries like coffee and wine. Terroir also has much cultural significance in many countries. Specific locations hold a higher value than other because of historical importance.
Craftsmanship: Processing is a significant indicator of the flavor and aroma: from the decisions of when the harvest is plucked, to techniques used and a crafter’s ability all play a role. Each country, and even more specifically, each region has a history of crafting style and specialties that make each tea unique.