4 Types of Tea

Hey there, Chris here!  I thought I’d do a quick blog about the 4 main types of tea.

4 Types of Tea

Believe it or not, all teas come from a single plant called Camellia sinensis! Where the plants grow and how their leaves are processed are what determines the type of tea. All true teas really only fall into one of four types of tea: White tea, Green tea, Oolong tea and Black tea.

These categories are determined by how the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant are processed and oxidized. So many popular herbal infusions such as chamomile and rooibos that we call “tea” aren’t true teas, but rather fall into a broader category we call herbal teas.

White teas are the least processed of the tea types. They’re named after the fine white hairs that still cover the young buds or leaves of the tea plant that they are plucked from. The buds and leaves are quickly processed and dried to minimize oxidation. The result is a delicate, fragrant tea. Some examples of white tea include our Silver Needle and White Peony teas.

Green teas are very minimally oxidized. After picking, leaves are processed and heated—either by pan roasting or steaming-- to allow the leaves to retain their green color.  Pan roasted green teas are usually smooth and aromatic, while steamed teas maintain a fresh almost grassy taste—something that is very desirable in Japanese Teas. Some quality green teas that we carry are our Imperial Jasmine Pearl (a favorite of mine) and Sencha.

Oolong teas are semi-oxidized teas. Mature leaves are picked at their peak then processed and oxidized. Wide variations in oxidation times are what allow oolong teas to vary greatly in color, aroma, and of course, flavor. Flavors can range from sweet and fruity like found in our Tie Guan Yin to smoky like our Wuyi Da Hong Pao.

Black teas are heavily oxidized teas, and probably what you think of when you think of tea.  Oxidation changes the leaf's properties and accounts for the dark, rich amber or brown colors and strong, brisk flavors that are characteristic of black teas. Flavors of black teas can range from sweet to bitter, or can be earthy, spicy or nutty depending on how long it has been oxidized and how it has been processed. Try our Imperial Golden Monkey for a sweet and nutty brew, or go for the familiar with our Earl Grey.

Chris Warco