6 Main Types of Tea

Although tea is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, not all teas are created equal. There are six distinct categories of tea, namely white, green, yellow, oolong/blue, black/red, and dark/fermented.

Green tea

Green tea is a type of tea that is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. It is made by lightly steaming or pan-frying the fresh leaves, which helps to preserve their green color and fresh taste. Unlike black tea, which is fully oxidized, green tea is only partially oxidized, which gives it a milder flavor and lighter color. Green tea is a popular beverage around the world and is known for its many health benefits, including its high levels of antioxidants and its potential to improve brain function, increase fat burning, and lower the risk of certain diseases.

Read more: Green Tea Processing: Methods and Their Impact on Flavor and Appearance

White tea

White tea is a lightly oxidized tea that originated in the Fuding prefecture of the Fujian Province in southeast China. It is believed that white teas have only been processed for the past two hundred years. Unlike its name suggests, white tea is not named after its color, but after the silvery pekoe that grows on the unopened buds of tea leaves. Due to its young age, there are fewer varieties of white tea available in the market as compared to green or oolong tea, making it a more accessible and comprehensible type of tea. White tea is also known for its delicate flavor and subtle sweetness, with notes of honey, hay, and floral undertones.

Read more: An Overview of White Tea: Types, Processing, and Grades

Black tea

Black tea is a type of tea that is more oxidized than other tea varieties like green, white, and oolong tea. The leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant are withered, rolled, and left to fully oxidize before they are dried and packaged. This process gives black tea its distinctive dark color and bold flavor. The level of oxidation can vary depending on the specific variety and production method, resulting in different flavor profiles and aroma. Some popular types of black tea include Assam, Darjeeling, Ceylon, and Keemun. Black tea is commonly consumed with milk and sugar, and is a popular beverage in many cultures around the world.

Read more: Oxidation and Factors Affecting Black Tea Taste

Oolong tea

Oolong tea, also known as blue tea, is a type of tea that is semi-oxidized, which means that it is processed somewhere between green tea (which is unoxidized) and black tea (which is fully oxidized). Oolong tea is believed to have originated in China’s Fujian province, but it is also produced in Taiwan and other regions. Oolong teas can vary widely in terms of oxidation level, flavor, and aroma, depending on the specific cultivar, processing method, and terroir. Oolong tea is often described as having a complex, nuanced flavor that combines the fresh, grassy notes of green tea with the rich, roasted flavors of black tea. It is a popular tea in many parts of the world, and is often enjoyed with food or as a standalone beverage.

Read more: Oolong Tea: From Harvesting to Processing to Brewing

Yellow tea

Yellow tea is a type of tea that is very rare and is primarily produced in China. It is a slightly fermented tea that is processed in a way that is similar to green tea, but with an additional step of “smothering” the leaves with a damp cloth or paper for a period of time. This process causes the leaves to turn yellow and gives the tea a unique flavor profile that is delicate, smooth, and slightly sweet. Yellow tea is typically more expensive and less widely available than other types of tea due to the labor-intensive nature of its production process. It is considered to be a specialty tea and is often enjoyed for its subtle and nuanced flavors.

Read more: Yellow Tea: A Unique and High-Quality Tea

Dark tea

Dark tea (often misunderstood as being synonymous with Pu’erh tea, is actually a broader category of tea that undergoes a fermentation process), also known as fermented tea or hei cha, is a type of tea that undergoes a fermentation process after it is picked and processed. This process gives the tea a distinct earthy and mellow flavor. Dark tea is primarily produced in China, with the most famous varieties coming from the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. It is often compressed into bricks or cakes for storage and transportation, and is known for improving in flavor with age, much like wine. Dark tea has been consumed in China for centuries, and is believed to have medicinal properties such as aiding digestion and reducing inflammation.

Read more: The Uniqueness of Dark Tea

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