There are many types of tea, each with its own unique flavor and benefits. Today we’ll be discussing six of the most common types of tea. These include black, white, green, Pu-erh, oolong, and herbal tea. With the exception of herbal tea, each type of true tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, but is processed differently to create different flavors and health benefits. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of tea and what sets them apart.
What is Tea?
How many types of tea are there? An interesting fact is that all true tea comes from the plant Camellia sinensis. Other teas that do not come from the Camellia sinensis plant are called herbal teas or tisanes. First discovered in China, tea is now one of the most popular drinks in the world. Tea is now grown in many different countries across Asia and several varieties have been identified. Each growing region brings its own new flavor profile.
What are the 6 main types of tea?
Black, White, Green, Oolong, Pu-erh, and Herbal are the six main types of tea. Under those main categories, there are sub-sets and myriad options to choose from. With such a broad range of flavors and health, there is tea and benefit for everyone!
Types of Tea
Great! Now, that we have an understanding of common types of tea, let’s continue with a deeper look at these delicious varieties and expand on our 6 main types.
Black tea is probably the most common type of tea in the world. It is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which are fully oxidized. Black tea has a strong, robust flavor that is sometimes is described as smokey and nutty. Different types of black tea can have different flavor tones that include fruity, spicy, or caramel. Black tea also contains high levels of caffeine. Black tea is thought to be good for heart health and weight loss.
Fully oxidized, black tea is rich in flavor tea. Black tea is the most oxidized of all the teas and has a rich, full-bodied flavor. Favorite types of black tea include Darjeeling (Camellia sinensis var. sinensis), Assam (Camellia sinensis var. assamica), Keemun (a famous Chinese black tea), and Ceylon (grown in Sri Lanka). Black tea is often enjoyed with a splash of milk, enjoyed hot or iced, with or without sugar!
White tea is the least processed of all the teas and has a delicate, sweet almost honey-like flavor. White tea is made from the youngest, unopened buds and leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. These leaves are generally hand-picked and then dried in sunlight; it is minimally oxidized. White tea contains low levels of caffeine, is high in antioxidants, and is thought to be good for skin health and immune system function.
Green tea is one of the most popular types of tea and is known for its many health benefits. It is grown in many countries around the world, including China, Japan, India, and Sri Lanka. Like others, it also comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. The tea leaves are picked and then quickly heated to prevent the oxidation process that turns the leaves brown. This results in a green-colored tea with a unique flavor.
Green tea has also been shown to improve mental focus and decrease fatigue. It is relatively low in calories and contains no artificial ingredients. Green tea is also a good source of antioxidants and other nutrients. This popular tea is also a source of caffeine, although it contains less caffeine than black tea or coffee. It can be enjoyed hot or iced and has a variety of different health benefits.
Matcha is a type of green tea that is made from stone-ground green tea leaves. It is the most popular form of green tea in Japan and is often used in ceremonies. Matcha contains high levels of antioxidants and is thought to be good for weight loss, brain health, and skin health. It has a very earthy taste and can sometimes be bitter.
Matcha is made from the same plant as green tea, but it is grown in a different way. The leaves are shaded from the sun for about 20 days before they are harvested. This process increases the chlorophyll content in the leaves, which gives matcha its bright green color. The leaves are then ground into a fine powder using a stone grinder. The powder is mixed with water to create a frothy beverage. Matcha is typically drunk without milk or sugar, but it can also be used to make lattes and other flavored drinks.
Yellow tea is a type of Chinese green tea where the leaves are allowed to partially oxidize before they are dried. It is made from the same plant as black, white, and green teas, camellia sinensis. However, the leaves are not oxidized as long as other teas, resulting in a light yellow color and a milder flavor.
Like other teas, yellow tea is high in antioxidants to help protect the body against disease and has been shown to offer a number of health benefits, including improved mental focus and decreased fatigue. Yellow tea is also thought to boost immunity, aid in digestion, and reduce stress levels.
While it is not as well known as other teas, yellow tea is a delicious and healthy option that is worth trying.
Oolong tea has a complex smooth, mellow fruity, or floral flavor landing somewhere between black and green tea and contains moderate levels of caffeine. Oolong tea is made from partially oxidized leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, meaning the leaves are partially oxidized before being dried and packaged. Oolong tea is thought to be good for digestion and weight loss.
Pu-erh tea is made from the aged leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The leaves are aged and then fermented, which gives the tea its black color and strong earthy flavor described as musty or similar to mushrooms. It is high in caffeine with moderate levels of antioxidants.
Pu-erh tea is often consumed after a meal to help with digestion and promote weight loss by boosting your metabolism. Others may consume it to promote heart health. Pu-erh tea is available in many forms, including loose-leaf, tea bags, and capsules.
Herbal teas are not made from the plant Camellia Sinensis, and are not true tea but rather tisanes. Herbal tea can be made by infusing hot water with edible flowers, roots, leaves, or fruits. Common herbal teas include chamomile, lavender, and mint. Herbal teas can have a variety of different benefits depending on the ingredients used.
As herbal teas are not made from Camellia sinensis leaves it does not contain caffeine. However, some herbal teas contain caffeine, like yerba mate and guayusa tea. Whether you’re looking for a tea to relax or one to invigorate, there’s an herbal tea out there for you.
Yerba Mate and Guayusa Tea
Both of these tantalizing teas are classified under herbal tea. Yerba mate is a type of tea that is made from the leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis plant. It is native to South America and is often consumed as a beverage in countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
Guayusa is another type of tea that is made from the leaves of the Ilex guayusa plant. It is native to Ecuador and is often consumed as a beverage in that country. Guayusa also contains caffeine and other antioxidants, and has been shown to offer health benefits like improved mental focus and decreased fatigue. Both yerba mate and guayusa are good sources of caffeine, so if you’re looking for a tea that will help you stay awake and alert, these are two good options to try!
While not among the main 6 types of tea, Purple tea is a relatively new type of tea that is made from purple Camellia sinensis leaves. Purple tea contains high levels of antioxidants and is thought to be good for heart health.
Some of the most popular tea is flavored. Types of tea like jasmine green tea is green tea flavored or infused with jasmine flowers during processing to add a delicate floral flavor and scent to the tea. Another extremely well-known and popular flavored tea is Earl Grey. Earl Grey tea is made from black teas and flavored with bergamot.
Tea is native to Asia and grows well across the continent. Most tea is grown in tea estates or tea gardens but some are grown in small family gardens. Oftentimes, tea is grown in high elevations and often on the sides of large hills.
To make tea, the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant are withered, rolled, and then oxidized. The oxidation process can take several hours depending upon the type of tea being made. Once the leaves are oxidized, they are dried and ready to enjoy!
Caffeine in Tea
All tea coming from the plant Camellia sinensis contains caffeine. Those teas include black, green, matcha, white, oolong, yellow, and purple tea. Herbal teas however do not contain any caffeine with only one exception, Yerba Mate and Guayusa Tea.
Grades and Ratings of Tea
The grade of tea affects the flavor and color of the final product. The higher the quality of the tea, the more expensive it will be. However, common consensus suggests that higher-quality teas offer a better flavor and taste. To make things a bit more complicated, there is apparently no cohesive system by which teas are rated and there are differences between geographies (e.g. Taiwan, Korea, China, Japan, India, U.K., etc.)
However, Tea can be graded in a number of ways, but in broad terms, think of the grading system as based on the size of the leaves and the flush.
Think of flushes as harvest or picking times of the tea. For example, a tea’s first flush could be spring, followed by a second flush in the summer, and so on. In general, the first flush is more light in flavor, delicate, and more costly. The earlier flushes also tend to contain higher nutritional content and levels of caffeine. Use this information when considering how you like your tea. As an example, if you like to add milk and sugar, perhaps a later flush in the hotter months with a stronger flavor would serve you better. The first flush tea is ideal for people who enjoy the light and delicate crispness of tea. This is one of the things I love about tea: there is so much to try, learn about, and taste!
Regarding leaf size, the following descriptions are typically used: whole leaf, broken leaf, fannings, and dust. Methods of preparation will vary depending on the leaf size, and I think the flavor tends to fall off the further you get down this list:
- Whole leaf teas are made from the largest leaves and generally offer the best flavor.
- Broken leaf teas are made from smaller leaves that have been broken down into smaller pieces.
- Fannings are made from the small leaves that are left over after the broken leaf tea has been processed.
- Dust is made from the smallest leaves that are left over after all other grades of tea have been processed. This grade of tea is the least expensive and has a weaker flavor than other grades of tea.
Health Benefits of Tea
In general, tea offers a number of health benefits. It is thought to be good for skin health and immune system function. Teas with high amounts of antioxidants are said to aid in the prevention of free radicals (unstable molecules that can harm cells and cause inflammation).
Some say tea may also help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Tea has been shown to improve heart health, weight loss, brain health, skin health, and immune system function.
Different types of tea offer different flavors and health benefits, so there is a type of tea for everyone to enjoy.
- Black Tea: is said to improve heart health, weight loss, brain health, skin health, and immune system function.
- White Tea: is thought to be good for skin health and immune system function.
- Green Tea: Some of the health benefits associated with green tea include improved heart health, weight loss, brain health, skin health, and immune system function.
- Yellow Tea: is said to boost immunity, aid in digestion, and reduce stress levels.
- Matcha Tea: It is high in antioxidants and has been shown to offer a number of health benefits, including improved mental focus and decreased fatigue.
- Oolong Tea: is thought to be good for digestion.
- Pu-erh tea: is thought to be good for digestion and weight loss.
- Herbal Teas: Herbal tea can have a variety of different benefits depending on the ingredients used. Chamomile tea is thought to be good for relaxation, ginger tea is thought to be good for nausea, and lavender tea is thought to be good for anxiety.
- Yerba Mate and Guayusa Tea: An herbal tea, both contain caffeine and other antioxidants, these teas have been shown to offer health benefits like improved mental focus and decreased fatigue.
- Purple Tea: Purple tea is thought to be good for heart health.
Types of Tea in Conclusion
There are many different types of tea, each with its own unique flavor, antioxidants, and health benefits. Some of the most common types of tea are black, white, green, oolong, pu-erh, and herbal. True tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and herbal teas are a broad variety of leaves, berries, and roots. Different types of tea offer different flavors and health benefits so there is a type for everyone to enjoy!
There are many different methods of preparation that will vary depending on the desired outcome and robustness of flavor. In general, tea offers a number of health benefits including improved heart health, weight loss, brain health, skin health, and immune system function.
What are some of your favorite teas? I’d love to hear from you in the comments, below.