Varieties of Tea | Oh, How Civilized

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A Tea Sommelier’s fast and simple information to the various kinds of tea. See what makes black tea completely different from inexperienced tea and why yellow tea is so uncommon and arduous to seek out.

Different teapots and small plates of loose tea.

6 Varieties of Tea

All actual tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is a bush with small leaves which might be plucked, then processed to make the 6 various kinds of tea:

  • Black tea
  • Oolong tea
  • Inexperienced tea
  • Yellow tea
  • White tea
  • Puerh tea

If all tea comes from the identical plant, what makes them completely different? It’s all in how the tea leaves are oxidized and processed.

Oxidation is the method by which tea leaves are uncovered to air after they’ve been picked from the plant. Lighter teas, like inexperienced or white, are much less oxidized however black teas are absolutely oxidized.

Other than oxidation, what makes inexperienced tea completely different from a black tea is how it’s processed. After oxidation, tea processing can embrace drying, roasting, fermenting, and steaming. Every sort of tea goes by means of a special course of.

All actual tea accommodates caffeine since it’s naturally occurring in Camellia sinensis. Which means herbal teas like peppermint usually are not actual teas.

RELATED: Where to Buy Tea Online, Tea Sommelier’s Guide to Getting Into Tea, and Difference Between Loose Tea, Sachets, and Tea Bags

Black Tea

Two photo collage with loose black tea on the left and brewed tea in a small cup on the right.
  • Black tea is absolutely oxidized (left uncovered to air), which leads to tea leaves which might be darkish purple, brown, or black.
  • The method concerned in making black tea embrace withering, rolling, oxidizing, and drying.
  • In China, the place tea originated, black tea is named purple tea due to its reddish coloration.
  • It’s produced largely in China, India, Kenya, and Sri Lanka.
  • Black tea is understood to be full-bodied and strong, with hints of malt, relying on the processing.
  • Black tea is used to make Milk Tea, Bubble Tea, and Chai Lattes.
  • Standard black teas: Assam, Ceylon, English breakfast (a mix of black teas), and Earl Grey (bergamot flavored black tea)
  • Caffeine: 60-90 mg per cup

Oolong Tea

Two photo collage with loose oolong tea on the left and brewed tea in a small cup on the right.
  • Oolong tea is partially oxidized, wherever from 10-80% oxidized. Oolong is between black tea (absolutely oxidized) and inexperienced tea (not oxidized).
  • The method concerned in making oolong tea embrace withering, bruising/rolling, oxidizing, shaping, and drying.
  • It’s largely produced in Fujian, China or Taiwan.
  • Chinese language oolongs are usually woodsy whereas Taiwanese types are normally lighter and extra floral.
  • There’s a variety in terms of oolongs and other than oxidation ranges, the roasts go from gentle, medium, and darkish.
  • Standard oolong teas: Tie Guan Yin, Bao Zhong, and Oriental Beauty
  • Caffeine: 50-70 mg per cup

RELATED: Want to Get Into Oolong Tea? Start Here.

Inexperienced Tea

Two photo collage with loose green tea on the left and brewed tea in a small cup on the right.
  • Inexperienced tea is totally unoxidized, which is why inexperienced tea leaves are inexperienced in coloration.
  • The method concerned in making inexperienced tea embrace steaming or pan-firing, rolling, and drying.
  • Matcha is a inexperienced tea that goes by means of an extended course of and is finely milled right into a powder.
  • It’s largely produced in China, Japan, and South Korea.
  • Inexperienced tea is normally vivid, vegetal, and may get astringent or bitter if oversteeped.
  • Standard inexperienced teas: Matcha, Jasmine tea, Genmaicha, Sencha, and Hojicha
  • Caffeine: 30-50 mg per cup

RELATED: Want to Get Into Green Tea? Start Here.

Yellow Tea

  • Yellow tea is uncommon outdoors of China and it’s so uncommon that I don’t have images of it.
  • Yellow tea is partially oxidized (10-20%).
  • The processing is just like inexperienced tea however with the additional step of slowly oxidizing the tea over a number of days, which leads to the leaves turning yellow in coloration.
  • It’s largely produced in Hunan and Sichuan provinces of China and little or no of it’s exported to the US.
  • It takes a number of additional work to make yellow tea and with fewer tea masters specializing on this labor-intensive course of, there may be much less yellow tea produced.
  • Yellow teas have a gentle, clean style, someplace between white and inexperienced tea and with none bitterness chances are you’ll discover in inexperienced tea. The particular gradual oxidation course of removes the grassy, bitter notes.
  • Standard yellow teas: There aren’t any standard ones within the US. It’s not a straightforward tea to seek out.
  • Caffeine: 30-35 mg per cup.

White Tea

Two photo collage with loose white tea on the left and brewed tea in a small cup on the right.
  • White tea is gently oxidized, letting the tea leaves gently dry after they’re picked, which might take 2-3 days.
  • White tea is the least processed out of all 6 varieties of tea and the method concerned embrace simply withering and drying. Little or no is finished to the tea after it has been picked.
  • It’s largely produced in Fujian, China.
  • White teas are likely to have a fragile, delicate taste that’s floral or fruity.
  • Standard white teas: Silver Needle and White Peony tea
  • Caffeine: 30-55 mg per cup, about the identical quantity as inexperienced tea

Puerh Tea

Two photo collage with loose puerh tea on the left and brewed tea in a small cup on the right.
  • Puerh tea is a novel sort of tea that has been fermented and aged. Puerh will be extraordinarily costly, as it’s usually collected and aged by connoisseurs like wine.
  • Puerh just isn’t oxidized, like inexperienced tea.
  • The method concerned in making puerh is just like inexperienced tea (frying, rolling, drying) however with the fermentation and getting older course of added after the tea has dried. Puerh is pressed into truffles, which it’s a must to chip items from with a puerh decide. 
  • There are two varieties of puerh: uncooked (additionally known as sheng), which is aged slowly, and cooked (additionally known as shu) by which the fermentation course of is expedited.
  • Puerh tea is produced completely in Yunnan province.
  • The flavour of puerh adjustments over time and turns into extra complicated, however usually it has a strong style with notes of wooden and chocolate. 
  • Standard puerh teas: It’s arduous to say which puerh is the preferred since there are such a lot of completely different sorts. It’s the trickiest to purchase since there are fakes on the market. Go to a trusted tea source to buy.
  • Caffeine in uncooked puerh: 30-45 mg per cup
    Caffeine in cooked puerh: 60-70 mg per cup

Questions You Might Have

The place can I purchase yellow tea?

In Pursuit of Tea sells a yellow tea known as Anhui Yellow. It’s not a straightforward tea to seek out.

What about natural tea?

Natural tea isn’t an actual tea the identical method black tea and inexperienced tea are. Herbals don’t come from the Camellia sinensis plant, also referred to as the tea plant. Herbals like lavender come from the lavender plant and chamomile comes from the chamomile plant, with neither coming from the tea plant.

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