Tea is considered the most ancient beverage in the world, and it is just made by soaking dried leaves in hot or cold water. There are a lot of people who choose to drink tea instead of drinking coffee because there are certain blends that are very refreshing without having the same level of caffeine. Ranging from Matcha tea made for tea ceremonies in Japan, to that good old southern sweet tea, there are various types of tea that offer a variety of flavors and complexity.

Types of Tea

Below we will cover the most commonly found types of tea around the world. Each type of tea has various varieties and blends, and it is quite common for the other flavors to blended in with these types of tea.

You should know that there will be some types of tea are fermented and then oxidized, while there are some that are not. In order to ferment tea, the leaves will need to be bruised by hand or whither. This process lets enzymes of the leaves interact with the air and then oxidize, which changes the chemical compound, as well as the color of the leaves. The flavor of the tea can change as well depending on the temperature, air conditions, and humidity. Heat treatments such as steaming or pan frying will actually stop oxidation.

Black Tea

Also known as Red Tea in China, this type of tea is the most commonly consumed tea worldwide. It is a fully oxidized tea, with leaves coming from Camellia sinensis which are withered then get rolled, oxidized and then dried or fired for producing a full body and strong flavor. Sri Lanka, Nilgiri, Darjeeling, and Assam are only a few well-known areas that produce black tea. The flavor will actually depend on the region and type of black tea.

Chai Tea

Chai tea is basically black tea that has been paired with warm spices and ingredients such as chocolate, vanilla, and cardamom. Most tea drinkers will flavor it using sugar and milk. This is basically a blended tea instead of its own variety. However, due to the global popularity, especially in Indian culture, it needed to have a special mention.

Green Tea

When it comes to popularity, green tea is the most popular around the globe. It is unoxidized and has a lot less caffeine than black tea. The tea leaves are picked, then dried out, as well as heat-treated to keep it from oxidizing. The Chinese will pan fire the tea leaves, which will actually create a color of dull green, while Japanese culture will steam the leaves which creates a bright, green shade.

Herbal Tea

Herbal tea does not come from tea leaves such as other types of tea. It is actually made from dried fruits, herbs, and flowers, which give it a lot of variety when it comes to flavors. These types of tea are caffeine free, which is perfect for those who have dietary restrictions. Mate, herbal infusion and Rooibos teas are in fact herbal teas. The most common ingredients for herbal infusions are ginger, peppermint, hibiscus, dried fruits, rosehips, lemongrass and chamomile.

Matcha Tea

Matcha tea is actually made by grinding green tea leaves into a powder which is then whisked together with a very small amount of water. Then, you will be drinking the whole tea leaf, which makes this type of tea very healthy. Matcha is very popular in tea ceremonies in Japan.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea which is also called Wulong tea, is actually semi-oxidized and is picked a lot later in the season than green tea. The leaves are from the Camellia sinensis plant and are bruised by being shaken or tossed in baskets, which changes the whole oxidation process. They are then heat-treated to stop the oxidation, which will vary based on the area it comes from. This will create different flavors.

White Tea

This type of tea is made with Camellia sinensis from the Fujian province and it’s the least processed variety out of all the types of teas. The leaves are left to wither and dry on their own which gives it a naturally sweet, delicate, and well-rounded flavor. It also has very little caffeine.

Blends

It is very common for all types of tea to be combined with other flavors such as peach, ginger, raspberry, lemon and mint. Sometimes the flavored teas will need to use various brewing methods. You can also blend various types of tea into a single type of tea, but you need to follow the steeping method with the shortest time and lowest temperature to avoid it becoming bitter and over steeped.

Loose Leaf vs. Tea Bags

There are some tea producers that state loose leaf tea is higher quality because the whole tea leaf is used instead of just small pieces. The tea that is used in tea bags are actually smaller pieces of the leaf that have been chopped up. Tea in a tea bag may lack the full-bodied flavor like the loose leaf varieties. Bagged tea is still quite popular as it is conveniently packaged and quicker to brew.  It is also much easier to store bags of tea at merchandisers where guests can help themselves to a preferred blend. If you use loose leaf tea, then you may place it into a bag or strainer for steeping.