What are the main types of tea?

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As mentioned in a previous post all kinds of tea come from the same plant “camellia sinensis”. There are four main types of tea. Wether you drink black, green, white or oolong tea depends on the process the leaves have undergone. So what is the difference between every kind of tea and what makes each one of them unique?

Unprocessed tea leaves
Unprocessed tea leaves

After each flush, the top two leaves and bud are hand plucked and then processed into any of the four types of tea.

Black tea is the most popular kind of tea in the world. It can be drunk hot or iced. Black tea yields a hearty, reddish-colored  brew due to it being extensively processed in contrast to other kind of teas. After harvesting, the crushed tea leaves are spread on racks until they are fully dried and oxidized. They are then rolled and cooled, which helps the natural oils and juices to come up and leads to the darkening of the leaves. Finally, the leaves are heated to avoid further oxidation and seal in the aroma and flavor.

Green tea which makes up about 10% of world-tea production skips the oxidizing step. Also served either hot or cold it is only mildly processed which helps to the preservation of its antioxidant properties. It is simply withered and then dried or sometimes roasted. It has a more delicate taste and offers a  pale green, yellow-colored brew.

Oolong tea or wu-long, popular in China, Japan and Taiwan, carries characteristics of  black and green tea, both in color and taste. Oolong tea is withered, semi-fermented or semi-oxidized (between 30% and 70%), and dried. It has  the fresh, fruity flavor of green tea and rich aroma of black tea.  

White tea is a rather rare kind of  tea from China and the least processed of all kinds. It comes from young leaves of the camillia sinensis bush that are picked carefully before the buds have fully opened. White tea is minimally processed. It is not oxidized or rolled, but simply withered and dried by steaming. It has a delicate, fresh and sweet taste and a very light color. 

Which one is your favorite kind of tea?

A tea cup with tea on a nice table