A cup of tea a day can help you stay healthy and feel happy. Tea is an intricate beverage that has different varieties and flavors which is based on production methods and cultivation regions. In fact, there are several kinds of teas ranging from the classic pure tea varieties to spiced teas and herbal tisanes. With that much variety, it is quite challenging to determine the types of tea, especially if you’re new to tea or you’re trying out new flavors. That’s why we are going to give you a guide to help you understand the different kinds of tea. We are also going to highlight their differences in compositions and flavors to help you distinguish each type.
Determining True Teas from Herbal Teas
Before we list down the different types of teas, let’s start by determining the difference of true teas from herbal teas. Beginner tea drinkers may not notice the difference between the two, but herbal teas are not actually real teas. Herbal teas are infusions, and they are either made from roots, herbs, and steeping spices that are soaked in hot water. Sometimes, the ingredients of herbal tea are combined with true teas, and that’s when they are known as flavored teas.
True teas are made from leaves from a tea plant called Camellia sinensis. When you read or hear the term true tea, it means that teas made from the Camellia Sinensis plant. The only true teas are oolong tea, white tea, black tea, and green tea. The leaves of the tea plant natural have caffeine that has higher concentration compared to coffee beans. The reason why coffee is stronger than tea is because it is more concentrated when it is brewed. The caffeine content of a cup of tea depends on how it is produced. Matcha green tea and black tea have the highest concentrations of caffeine, while white tea has the lowest caffeine content. Either way, the different caffeine levels of these teas can give you energy and relaxation. Teas are also the best choice if you’re planning to reduce your caffeine intake.
Types of Tea
- Green Tea – Green tea leaves do not go through an oxidation process, but they do undergo a multi-step production process. They are harvested, and the leaves are steamed or pan-fried in high temperatures in order to reduce its moisture content. Some popular varieties of green tea are genmaicha, matcha, and sencha green tea. Matcha tea is made by crushing the tea leaves until they turn into a fine powder.
Aroma and Flavor – Most green teas have a light green or yellowish color. Sencha green tea has a light green color and a fruity flavor that gives you a riper and fuller taste. Matcha green tea has a vibrant lime green color and has a more vegetal flavor that some may say that it tastes a little bit grassy with a sweet after taste. While Genmaicha tea has a roasted flavor compared to matcha and sencha.
- Black Tea – The black tea is the most processed tea compared to other tea varieties. Black tea goes through oxidation, rolling, and drying, which results in its dark brown or reddish amber color when mixed in water. Black teas are typically produced in the Indian continent and China. Assam and Darjeeling are popular regions that produce black tea in India. While the third-largest black tea growing region is in Nilgiri, Sri Lanka which is formerly known as Ceylon. Typically, black teas are named after the regions they are grown into because it characterizes the black tea’s different flavor profiles.
Aroma and Flavor – Assam black teas have a dark brown color with an earthy aroma. And the Darjeeling black teas have a light tan to green color that has a fruity and floral flavor. Ceylon black teas have a full-bodied and bold flavor with a brisk finish.
- White Tea – Compared to other teas, white tea is the least processed of all the true teas. This type of tea goes through a simple production process; they are harvested and immediately dried under natural sunlight. Only new or baby tea leaves are used to produce white tea. The white tea has two popular varieties, namely White Peony and Silver Needle. White Peony is made with both buds and leaves of the tea while the Silver Needle is strictly made from the buds of the tea plant.
Aroma and Flavor – Generally, white tea has a light yellow color, but some of its varieties can be a little bit green. It has a fruity, floral, and rounded flavor with a natural sweetness.
- Oolong Tea – Also called as Wulong tea, this type of tea undergoes a process of rolling, withering, and short-term oxidation. Oolong teas are uniquely produced in Taiwan and China, and its types are often named after the region where they are cultivated. In Taiwan, Oolong varieties are often named after the mountains where the plants are grown.
Aroma and Flavor – Oolong tea has a light green or deep amber color. It has a smooth finish and floral flavor that gives you a medium-bodied taste.
- Pu-Erh Tea – This type of tea is popular in Asia because of its health benefits. There are two types of Pu-erh tea, and these are the raw and aged types. The raw Pu-erh tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant, and it is immediately dried to high temperatures. On the other hand, the aged Pu-erh tea is post-fermented and aged just like fine wines to produce a full-bodied flavor. This type of Pu-erh tea are aged from 10 to 15 years.
Aroma and Flavor – Aged Pu-erh teas tend to have a reddish color and has a flavor that is very similar to the black tea. Raw Pu-erh tea has a light reddish color, and it has a flavor and aroma that is like the green tea.