What’s in a name? A lot of beverages are called tea. But not every cup you drink that you think is called that, is actually tea. So what are the main types of tea? Well, basically it can be subdivided into four main types that all derive from the same plant. All other flavors, blends, infusions and extracts are tisanes or tea beverages. In this articles Brewertea explains the difference between the different types of tea.
- Black tea is the most common sort of tea, especially in the UK, Europe and the USA. It is a type of tea that is more oxidized than oolong, green and white teas. Black tea is generally the strongest in flavor. Most of the Assam tea is also considered black tea. The difference is in the variation of the tea plant.
- Oolong is a traditional Chinese tea produced through a unique process including withering the plant under strong sun and oxidation (although not as much oxidation as black tea) before curling and twisting.
- Green Tea is a type of tea that is made from Camellia sinensis leaves that have not undergone the same withering and oxidation process used to make oolong and black tea. Both Japan and China are famous for their green tea. Matcha is powdered green tea. Assam green tea is also available.
- White Tea comes from new growth buds and young leaves of the plant. They are steamed or fried to inactivate oxidation, and then dried. White tea therefore retains the high concentrations of phenolic content and antioxidants. which are present in fresh tea leaves, and is considered the purest form of tea.
So, all “proper” teas belong to one of these four classifications.
There are of course subdivisions of each of these, and other types of “tea drink”, better known as “tisanes”. These are made from alternative ingredients. There are also combinations of different kind of teas and tisanes mixed into one teabag of loose tea container, called blends. A black tea, with spices and a fruit extract blended together for example. Many tea producers are famous for their careful selected tea blends. For a list of tea blends of Twinings, Pickwick of Yogi tea, take a look at the brands section of this website.
Herbal teas are beverages made of extract of herbs or a combination of herbs. Most famous are chamomile tea, ginger tea, nettle tea
Spice teas are beverages made of the extract of spices, for example cinnamon tea.
Fruit teas are beverages made of fruit extracts, for example blueberry tea or lemon tea. This is also very popular with iced teas.
Rooibos or Red bush teas are beverages made from the South African bush that bares the name Aspalathus linearis. The fresh leaves contains a high dose of vitamin C and the tea does not contain caffeine. The needle like bushes and leaves are processed the same as black or green tea. Green rooibos tea is also produced, although not widely known. Rooibos became popular in the ’40ties of the 20th century. During World War II, virtually all supplies of Japanese and Chinese teas suddenly became unavailable. The tea-addicted Western culture scoured the world for an alternative, finally discovering caffeine-free rooibos, which grows only in South Africa.
Yerba mate is a beverage that comes from the South American rainforest holly tree (Ilex paraguariensis). The leaves of that tree contains caffeine, theophylline and theobromine. These well-known stimulants are also found in tea, coffee and chocolate. It is therefor said that Yerba Mate has the health benefits of tea, the strength of coffee and the euphoria of chocolate.
Other tea like beverages:
Masala Chai is a flavored tea beverage that is made by mixing black tea with Indian spices and herbs. Originaly the popular drink is black tea leaves mixed with cardemom pods, cinnamon sticks, black peppercorn and ground ginger and cloves. But the demand for the drink is so high that it made into infusions and grounded substances. This drink gained popularity by coffee houses and teabars and is often served with milk, making it a Chai latte.
Bubble tea, also named boba milk tea, boba tea, pearl milk tea or tapioca tea origins in Taiwan. In the eighties this beverage was invented and gained popularity worldwide. It is often milk flavored or fruit flavored and sugared with syrups, sometimes with stevia, honey or agave. Famous flavors are the Jasmine infused green tea, coconut cream blend with tapioca pears and honneydew boba tea.
Iced tea is a beverage that is made from hot tea served over ice cubes. All tea and tealike beverages can be consumed cold as well. Often sugar is added for additional taste. In the Netherlands and other European countries, Ice Tea is a soda made by the brand Lipton. This drink is the number one non-alcoholic beverage that is served on terraces, bars and restaurants as well as found in many frigdes at home.