Different Kinds of Tea
Types of Tea
It may surprise you to learn that all types of tea come from the same bush, Camellia Sinensis. There are two different varieties of tea bush. The first, Camellia Sinensis Sinensis, thrives in China, and the second, Camellia Sinensis Assamica thrives in India. Different tea types are produced using different processing methods that oxidise the leaves to different levels.
Black tea (known as red tea in China) is the tea that most British people are familiar with. It’s made using tea leaves that have been fully oxidised, hence its dark colour. Black teas are robust, strong tasting teas that are particularly good served with lemon or milk. Assam and Darjeeling are well known examples of black teas.
Green tea is not oxidised at all, giving it its characteristic green colour. Green teas tend to be lighter in flavour, and are best drunk without milk. To get the best flavour from your green tea it’s vital that you don’t brew with boiling water. Gunpowder and Jasmine Pearls are examples of green teas.
Oolong (known as blue tea in China) is a less well-known type of tea originally from Taiwan and China. It is halfway between a green and a black tea. It is only partially oxidised to levels between 20 and 80%. This broad oxidation ranges gives rise to very different tasting teas within the oolong category. There are two types of oolong – dark open leafed and greener balled oolong. The former tends to be more oxidised, with the latter less so.
White tea is made from tender tea buds that are covered in a soft white fur. This type of tea is the least processed. Slight oxidation (8-15%) takes place giving rise to a delicately flavoured tea that is high in antioxidants. This tea is light and clean tasting, and is a particularly good option if you don’t like a strong tea flavour. Silver Needle is a well known example of a white tea.
Pu-erh (known as black tea in China) is a fermented tea that is left to mature for years. It is often sold in “cake” form. There are said to be huge health benefits from drinking this tea. It has a very strong flavour that could be considered an acquired taste.
These aren’t technically tea as they’re not made from the tea bush. There are many different types of tisanes, with different flavours and health benefits. Well known examples include Peppermint and Chamomile.