“If you are cold, tea will warm you;
if you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are excited, it will calm you.”
― William Ewart Gladstone
Well, it is indeed true. A cup of tea is a panacea for your everyday problem, calms your storm of emotions, soothes your senses and brings normality. The great variety and wide range of benefits the tea provides, there’s no doubt if it is considered the second most consumed drink in the world after water.
All types of tea belong to the same plant and produced from the same plant species called camellia sinensis. With over 3,000 varieties the native plant camellia Sinensis of Asia, is now cultivated around the world in tropical and subtropical areas. Despite it being from the same plant, the tea tastes different for there exist thousands of varieties of camellia sinensis across the world and are categorised according to their own individual appearance, taste, and aroma.
Tea is categorised into different varieties on the following basis-
- The climate, rainfall, and other seasonal conditions of the region, it is grown.
- The cultivation and processing method it follows.
- The time period or the season of the year it is cultivated and harvested and the term for this is called ‘Tea Flush’.
Three major flushes of Darjeeling Tea are as follows:
- First Flush- from mid-March to May-has lively light flavor and clear bright color.
- Second Flush- from June to mid-August-has dark color and strong flavor.
- Third Flush (Autumn Flush)- from October to November-has coppery dark color and a lighter flavor.
In this article we are going to provide you the full guide to tea types including their benefits and brew time. As we have already mentioned above that there exist a thousands of varieties of tea around the world, but after doing all the calculation, sorting, categorising and sub-categorising we present you the list of top 7 tea types.
Here are the most popular and the best top seven types of tea-
1. White Tea
White tea is traditionally cultivated in China and its varieties are least oxidised(oxidation prevented) and unprocessed. It is picked only at a specific time period of the year, when the white tip known as bai hao appears on the tender shoots. The leaves and tender shoots of white tea are never rolled or shaped and simply plucked and allowed to wither dry to prevent oxidisation. Sometimes when weather doesn’t cooperate some oxidation may occur resulting in color varition of the leaves while processing. Therefore, white tea leaves may differ in shade and have white, green and brown color. Its regular consumption is very beneficial in weight loss and helps maintain healthy and youthful skin.
Flavor: Has a delicate flavor and aroma.
Color: Yellow liquor or Pale green
Brew Time: 4-5 min at 175 F
2. Green Tea
Green tea is the most popular and preferred worldwide. It is less oxidised and has low ratio of caffeine than black tea. The benefits are green tea are endless as it contains catechins 80-90% and flavonoids 10% .
Green tea is picked, withered and rolled with heat application to prevent oxidation. There is some variation in the processing of green tea from region to region but still taste great with equal amount of health benefits. The Chinese people pan-fire leaves to achieve dull green color while the Japanese steam the leaves which creates a higher shade of green.The health benefits of green tea include its beneficial impact on atherosclerosis and risk of heart disease, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, help prevent cancer, reduces inflammation in arthritis cases and improve bone density and memory.
Flavor: ‘Pan-fired’ green tea has toasty and grassy flavor & ‘Steamed’ green tea has fresh steamed green with mild vegetal aroma
Color: Mild, pale green or lemon-yellow
Brew Time: 45 sec – 1 min at 175 F
3. Black Tea
Black tea is one of the most common tea types produced and is known as ‘red tea’ in China. The leaves of black tea are completely oxidised and contains 20–30% catechin, 10% flavonoidand and 50–60% thearubigins. The processing of black tea leaves follows all the basic steps i.e, pluck, wither, roll, oxidise and fire(heated) and it can be made within a single day. The most popular, expensive and high-quality varieties of black tea come from the Indian regions of Assam, Nilgiri and Darjeeling, including Sri Lanka.
The health benefits of black tea include its good impact on digestive problems, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, low-concentration levels, diarrhea, poor blood circulation, asthma and tooth decay.
Flavor: Has sweet aroma and strong flavor
Color: Deep red to dark brown
Brew Time: 2-3 min at 195-205 F
4. Oolong Tea‘Oolong’ or ‘Wulong’ tea is semi-oxidised and the leaves are picked later than green tea in that particular season. Oolong tea comes in the complex category and is the most time consuming to make. It is oxidised between 10% to 80% and this is the reason it has the widest range of flavors and aromas. Oolong Tea is generally considered as a bridge between green tea and black tea. The rolling and oxidising process is repeated several times until we get the perfect blend of beautiful layers of aroma and flavor.
Flavor: Has smooth and rich floral-fruity flavor
Color: Less oxidised oolong tea gives lighter, more golden color and more oxidised oolong tea teas gives a darker, orange or brown color.
Brew Time: 3 min at 195 F
5. Pu-erhPu’erh is well aged black tea also known as ‘fermented tea’ (unlike alcohol that tastes totally different and has different fermentation process).
It is a beautiful aromatic creation of China, prized for the health beneficial medicinal properties it contains and has a rich earthy flavor.
Pu’er tea follows the same process as green tea but before the loose leaves are dried and aged, they are compressed into dense cakes of various decorative shapes and sizes. The best pu’erhs great in taste are the one which are stored and aged well and considered the living teas just like wine.
Flavor: Has earthy, woodsy or musty aroma and rich, smooth smokey taste almost peaty flavor.
Color: Dark brown to black
Matcha is the purest form of tea prepared from specially grown and processed green tea leaves of camillia sinensis plant. Matcha is very popular in Japanese tea-ceremonies. It is made by grinding leaves of camillia sinensis into fine ground powder. Unlike other tea varieties matcha has more potency as you take it without straining thus consuming the whole leaves. Traditionally it is brewed and whisked together with appropriate amount for water; the frothy green tea, full of antioxidants is consumed hot but now the matcha powder is also used in recipes like smoothies or baking. The vivid green color and fine powder texture of matcha tea makes it special because of the following reasons-
Farming: it is grown in shade for the time period of three weeks before harvesting.
Processing: The stems and others parts of the green tea plants are removed in processing leaving just the entire leaves for grinding.
Flavor: Has a rich grassy taste & is full of vegetal flavour.
Color: Bright green
7. Tisane/Herbal TeaTisane tea is popularly called Herbal teas. Herb teas and tisanes is less common name among the people. These fruit teas contain no caffeine. The aromatic and healthy beverages are made from the herbal infusion. The herbal teas are prepared by the infusion and decoction of herbs, flowers, fruits, spices, or any other plant material(that blends well to create the aromatic infusion) in hot water. E.g. Ginger tea, chamomile tea, cinnamon tea, lemongrass tea, basil tea, etc.
Tisane or Herbal tea is the only tea that is prepared without camellia sinensis plant family. Tisane tea is further classified into three types-
a) Rooibos tea b) Mate tea c) Blooming tea
ROOIBOS TEARooibos tea is also called ‘Red Tea‘ as it gives a lovely red color when prepared for drinking. These herbal-infusion teas are prepared from a South African bush. Rooibos is popularly known for its delicious taste and comes in wide range of flavours. It can be consumed either ice-cold or hot.
MATE TEAMate tea is especially enjoyed by the coffee lovers and considered their favourite for it has a taste similar to coffee. Mate is a wild shrub, which has a flavourful and amazing taste. It is also known as Yerba mate, which is a native to Northern Argentina & Southern Brazil. These herbal teas are rich of bold flavours and consumed, shared among friends, offered to the guests in a gourd with a filtered straw.
Blooming tea is also called artisan or flowering tea. These beautiful colorful teas actually do `bloom’ as they steep. Flowering teas are especially created by the tea artists who hand tie them into bundles of dried flowers completely wrapped with dried tea leaves in beautiful shapes and have an exquisite flavour and aroma. The artisan tea laden with love are the romantic teas and often gifted and presented to the loved ones, as they are breathtaking and look beautiful.