The world of tea flavors can be confusing. You’ve got different types, varieties, and flavors, and it can be hard to decide what you should drink. Well, I’m here to guide you through the wilderness.
All pure teas comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The different types are created based on how the plant is processed and how much it is oxidized, which is a way to release tannins and break down chlorophyll.
Don’t worry about those concepts, though. There are six main types of tea: black, green, white, yellow, oolong, and pu-erh. I will focus on the four you’re most likely to find in North America.
1. Black Tea. Love deep, bold flavors? Looking for tea with a caffeine kick? Then, go to the store now and buy yourself some Darjeeling, assam, or ceylon. Black teas have the deepest flavors and are the most common type in America, with the vast majority of tea being black. The reason for its deep flavor is because it is more oxidized than other types.
Many of the most popular black teas are actually tea blends, which have other teas and ingredients added. Chai, Early Grey, and English Breakfast are all tea blends. Earl Grey, for example, blends black tea and bergamot oil.
2. Green Tea. Black tea may be most common in North America, but green tea’s popularity is growing each year. For the health conscious, green tea is for you. This type is most often associated with health benefits, especially related to heart health and cholesterol. It has an earthier, lighter taste because it is not oxidized after being plucked. Green tea is actually the most popular tea in the world because it is ubiquitous in Asia.
A great way to bring green tea into your life is to substitute it for regular iced tea. Although my parents aren’t heavy tea drinkers, my family and I have been drinking cold green tea with our dinners for years.
3. White Tea. “White” tea is a bit of a misnomer; it’s actually a pale yellow. Like green tea, white tea is either lightly oxidized or not oxidized. I like to think of white tea as a lighter, more fruitier green tea, although it can taste very different based on how it’s processed. Both white and oolong tea are not as common in America, so you will have to do some hunting to find them.
4. Oolong Tea. This type is semi-oxidized and has a fascinating creation process if you’re interested in reading more about it. This tea is good for someone looking for a happy medium between green and black tea. It has the richer black-tea flavor but is still lighter like green tea.
What is your favorite type of tea to drink?