Types of Tea

Tea can be broadly categorized into two main types:

True Teas: These are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and processed in different ways to produce distinct varieties.

  • Black Tea: Black tea is a fully oxidized tea, giving it a strong flavor and dark color. Popular varieties include:
    • Assam Tea: A strong, malty black tea from India.
    • Earl Grey Tea: A black tea flavored with bergamot oil, known for its floral aroma and citrusy bergamot flavor.
    • Darjeeling Tea: A delicate black tea from India known for its musky aroma and slight astringency.
    • English Breakfast Tea: A blend of black teas, typically Assam, Ceylon, and Kenyan, creating a strong and full-bodied tea.
  • White Tea: Minimally processed, white tea is made from young, unopened leaves and buds, resulting in a light and delicate flavor. Popular varieties include:
    • Silver Needle (Baihao Yinzhen): Considered the most prized white tea, Silver Needle consists of young unopened buds covered in fine white hairs, giving it a silvery appearance. It brews a light-colored tea with a delicate sweetness and floral notes.
    • White Peony (Bai Mudan): This type of white tea includes young unopened leaves along with the buds. The resulting tea is slightly fuller-bodied than Silver Needle with a more vegetal flavor profile.
  • Green Tea: Green tea is unoxidized, preserving its green color and grassy flavor. Popular varieties include:
    • Matcha: Matcha is a finely powdered green tea with a vibrant color and intense flavor. It is traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies.
    • Dragonwell Green Tea: A flat green tea from China, known for its sweet, nutty flavor.
    • Sencha: The most popular green tea in Japan, Sencha is known for its bright green color and refreshing taste.
    • Gunpowder Green Tea: A green tea from China with tightly rolled leaves that resemble gunpowder. Gunpowder tea steeps quickly and has a strong vegetal flavor.
  • Oolong Tea: Oolong tea undergoes partial oxidation, creating a unique range of flavors and aromas between green tea and black tea. Popular varieties include:
    • Ti Kuan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy): A light oolong tea from China known for its floral aroma and sweet taste.
    • Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe): A highly prized oolong tea from China known for its complex flavor profile with notes of rock, fruit, and orchid.
    • Dan Cong (Phoenix Tea): A type of oolong tea from Guangdong Province, China. Dan Cong teas come in a variety of styles with floral, fruity, or toasty aromas.

Herbal Tea: Unlike true teas, herbal teas are not made from the Camellia sinensis plant. Instead, they are infusions of various parts of plants like dried fruits, flowers, herbs, or spices in hot water.

  • Popular varieties of herbal tea include:
    • Hibiscus Tea: An herbal tea made from the dried calyces of the hibiscus plant. Hibiscus tea has a tart, cranberry-like flavor and a beautiful red color.
    • Peppermint Tea: An herbal tea made from dried peppermint leaves. Peppermint tea is known for its refreshing flavor and soothing properties for digestion.
    • Chamomile Tea: An herbal tea made from dried chamomile flowers. Chamomile tea is known for its calming and relaxing properties.
    • Yerba Maté: A South American herbal tea made from the leaves of the yerba maté plant. Yerba maté contains caffeine and has a stimulating effect.

Rooibos Tea: Rooibos (pronounced roy-bos) is a South African herb that is not related to the tea plant. Rooibos tea can be enjoyed red (oxidized) or green (unoxidized).

  • Popular varieties include:
    • Red Rooibos: The most common type of rooibos tea. Red rooibos is a naturally sweet and slightly nutty tea.
    • Green Rooibos: A less common type of rooibos tea that is unfermented and has a grassy flavor.