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A Beginners Guide: The Six Types of Teas

March 23, 2022

All teas come from the same plant called Camillea Sinensis. What makes these teas different from one another is the processing of the tea leaves. There are six mains types of teas: Black Tea, White Tea, Green Tea, Oolong, Dark and Yellow Tea. You may be reading this thinking, “Well what about Rooibos and Chamomile? These are actually considered Tisanes. Lets jump into all six of these teas and their qualities!

White Tea

White tea is known to be one of the most delicate tea varieties because it is so minimally processed. White tea is harvested before the tea plant’s leaves open fully, when the young buds are still covered by fine white hairs, hence the name “white” tea. White tea is typically only harvested in spring.

White tea has a very light, refreshing taste to it. You can expect sweet honey notes and lightly vegetal flavors, from a delicate Silver Needle to a more full-bodied White Peony.

White tea has many benefits to it as well! Thanks to minimal processing, white tea has the most antioxidants of all. These help protect the body from free radicals, fight disease and keep you and your immune system healthy. White teas have also been shown to help reverse skin damage caused by stress, diet and sun, and can even help the skin to rebuild resistance to stress.

Black Tea

Black tea is one of the most popular tea selections out there. It has a bold flavor and long shelf life. There are many types of black tea ranging from Earl Grey to English breakfast. Black tea leaves are allowed to fully oxidize before being processed and dried, which makes the leaves dark brown and gives the tea its signature flavor profile. Black teas tend to be bold and brisk, and they are often described as astringent.

After the leaves are picked, they are gently bruised and allowed to fully oxidise. During this process the leaves will turn from the green you see on the bush to the brown we recognize as tea, before finally being dried.

Black tea is loaded with health benefits. Thanks to their high caffeine content, black teas will give you that kick to get you out of bed in the morning. Unlike coffee, the caffeine in black tea is slow-release and therefore leaves you feeling energised for longer. Black tea is also naturally high in flavonoids, powerful antioxidants known to help lower cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

Green Tea

Green tea is another extremely popular tea among tea drinkers. The taste of green tea varies. Green teas can range from the sweet, floral character of a Chinese green, such as Jade Tips, to an intense vegetal Japanese Sencha, the flavor depending on where the leaves are grown and how the leaves are heated. Green tea is widely believed to be bitter in taste. However, this is usually due to burning the leaves with boiling water. When brewed at lower temperatures the resulting flavor should be smooth, clean and even sweet. The leaves are plucked, slightly withered, then immediately cooked to preserve the green quality and prevent oxidization. As a result of these methods, green teas have a much higher concentration of chlorophyll, polyphenols, and antioxidants than other tea types. 

Green tea has been shown to have positive effects on parts of the brain used for memory, increasing cognitive functions. Green tea is also a favorite for many nutritionists thanks to its effect on the metabolism. Matcha, in particular, is often included in smoothies, energy balls and pre-workout snacks.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea is often overlooked despite having some of the most varied and exciting flavor profiles. From lighter ‘green’ oolongs to the darker, more heavily oxidised oolongs, it is this varying level of oxidation that makes this tea type so exciting, offering a huge spectrum of flavour. Expect everything from a light and floral to a dark and aromatic.

After the leaves are picked (usually whole shoots), they are gently withered to remove some of the moisture from the leaf, before being tumbled in a bamboo drum. This process bruises the leaves and provokes oxidation. Oolongs are semi-oxidised which means that unlike black teas which are allowed to oxidise fully, for oolongs the process is halted after a certain time. The period of oxidation varies depending on the type of oolong being produced and can vary from 10% oxidation for a ‘green’ oolong, to over 60% for a darker Oolong. The leaves are then pan fired at high temperatures before being rolled and dried.

Oolong has been shown to help so many areas of your skin! From anti-aging to eczema to a healthy radiant glow, oolong is the way to go!

Dark Tea

Many people assume dark teas and black teas are the same. They are not! Dark teas are actually closer to green teas in they way that they are processed in the beginning. They then go through a fermentation process. The most common dark tea is Pu’er tea. It is one of the oldest types of tea, with a history dating back more than 2,000 years. Pu-erh teas are often described as having a subtle mushroom-like taste. This ancient tea originates in Yunnan province on China’s southwestern frontier, where a temperate climate and lush landscapes, teeming with biodiversity, provide ideal growing conditions for tea. 

In China, pu-erh tea has long been sipped to achieve a variety of health benefits, such as improvements in heart health and reductions in cholesterol levels. It’s also said that pu-erh tea can help promote weight loss, enhance eyesight, stimulate circulation, and soothe hangovers.

Yellow Tea

Yellow tea is produced similarly to white tea and green tea though an additional step is added. This extra step produces a tea that brews into a golden hue and features a mellow flavor without grassy notes. Yellow tea is a Chinese tea that is difficult to find outside of China. That’s because the process to produce this tea is time intensity, requires additional labor, and proves to be difficult when it comes to large-scale quality control. As a result, there are only three main types of yellow tea available on the market today!

Yellow tea undergoes a production process that is similar to green tea but includes one extra, time-consuming step. The leaves are harvested in early spring and immediately dried using direct sunlight or gentle pan-firing. Once dry, the leaves are wrapped in wet paper or cloth to induce a mild oxidation process through steaming. The yellow tea leaves are oxidized for up to three days and may undergo additional firing or drying rounds. This tea processing method produces a yellowing effect on the tea leaves.

Yellow tea is packed with antioxidants including polyphenols and catechins that are beneficial to overall health. These antioxidants work to prevent damage known as oxidative stress, which is caused by the presence of free radicals. This type of stress is known to breakdown healthy cellular processes and can contribute to premature aging as well as mental decline. The tea is naturally calorie-free, making it a good choice for people on weight loss plans that are looking to replace sugary sodas with healthier alternatives.