Know Your Tea Types From Black to Yellow and More (2022)

Tea is made from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis plant and was likely first cultivated in southeast Asia. Although it’s thought that tea has been enjoyed since 2700 BC, it wasn’t introduced to the western world until the early 17th century when the Dutch East India Company brought back its first export of Chinese tea. Since then, tea has evolved to become the second most popular drink after water, and developments in growing and processing techniques have produced a dizzying number of varieties. If you’re curious to learn about the essentials of tea and tea types, read on.

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Black Tea

Black tea is a true tea, meaning it is harvested from the Camellia sinensis plant. What makes it unique is that after the leaves are picked, they are fully oxidized, or exposed to oxygen. When the desired level of oxidation is reached, the process is halted by exposing the leaves to heat. The result is a tea that is rich, robust, and tannic in flavor. Despite its name, black tea has an amber hue when brewed, which is why in certain countries like China, it’s referred to as red tea, or hong cha. Two kinds of oxidative methods are used and each result in products with different price points. Orthodox processing requires that the leaves be first withered and then rolled before oxidation. This is a more time-intensive technique, so the resulting tea tends to be higher grade and more expensive. The cut, tear, and curl or, CTC process uses machinery to do just that—cut, tear and curl the leaves before they are oxidized, resulting in a tea that tastes strong and consistent between batches. This is the black tea you’ll most often find sold in bags, as its leaves are much too small to be steeped, loose-leaf. CTC processed black tea is best for strong brews like masala chai or for those occasions when you’d like to add some cream, too. Processing methods aside, the region your black tea was grown in is also an important feature. In fact, many popular varieties of black tea are named after the region they’re from. Take Assam, Ceylon, and Darjeeling teas, which are from India, Sri Lanka, and India, respectively. Assam tea imparts a malty flavor which is to say, both nutty and sweet and has a bright amber color when brewed. Ceylon tea is citrusy and sweet in flavor and carries a floral aroma, so it adds a lovely hint of complexity to drinks like Thai iced tea. Darjeeling tea is a more complex variety, as it’s further categorized as either first, second, or autumnal flush varieties, with first flush harvested in the spring, second flush during the summer, and autumnal during the fall. As a rule, the later Darjeeling is harvested the darker its color and more full-bodied its flavor will be.

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Green Tea

Unlike black tea, green tea is either steamed or pan-fired as quickly as possible after harvest to preserve its original qualities. Chinese green tea is most often pan-fired in large woks, while Japanese green tea is typically steamed in bamboo trays and each style yields a different taste. Pan-firing the leaves results in a lighter, almost toasted flavor while steaming the leaves creates a more vegetal, brisk brew. The leaves will then be rolled and dried after they’ve been heated, regardless of the method. In Japan, the most common green tea variety is Sencha, which is grown in direct sunlight and carries an astringent taste as well as near golden color, when brewed. By contrast, matcha is another Japanese green tea that is grown partially under the shade to intensify chlorophyll levels and thus, the umami, grassy taste that’s so characteristic of Japanese green tea. Popular Chinese green tea varieties include Long Jing, or Dragon Well, and Liu An Gua Pian, or Melon seed. Both taste mellow and sweet and have a light jade color when brewed, so they prove easier for blending into more complex beverages, like this sangria. Between the two countries, the main differences are that Chinese growing methods rely more on the natural terroir to impart both character and flavor, while Japanese methods are more controlled. One is not objectively better than the other, it’s simply about choosing which you enjoy.

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White Tea

White tea is a particularly delicate variety of tea, as it’s harvested before the plant’s leaves are fully open. This means that the season for white tea is short and in turn, it’s a bit more costly than other teas. White tea is also minimally processed, meaning that it is neither rolled nor heavily oxidized and makers take great care to balance both heat and moisture to dry the leaves. This approach, combined with the young age of the leaves means that white tea is one of the varieties highest in antioxidants, polyphenols, and flavonoids. When brewed, white tea carries a light, fresh flavor and is yellow in color. As such, white tea doesn’t get its name from its color when brewed but instead, the white hairs that cover the young leaves of its plant when it’s harvested. Apart from enjoying a cup of white tea, as is, try chilling it and tossing in a few herbs and berries for a refreshing beverage, as well as blending it into a cocktail, like this tea-tini.

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Oolong Tea

Oolong tea also comes from the Camellia sinensis plant but it’s processed in various ways, so oolong has a wider range of flavors and colors than most other categories of tea. Unlike white or green tea, oolong varieties are harvested from mature leaves, allowing them to adopt the qualities of their terroir and complexify in flavor. That said, what really sets oolong apart is the wide range of oxidation it is exposed to, which normally runs anywhere from 8 to 80 percent. Popular oolong varieties such as Dan Chong, or Phoenix tea, are less oxidized and taste more floral and light, while a variety like Da Hong Pao, or Wuyi tea, is heavily oxidized, having a full-bodied flavor and darker hue. Another key factor in distinguishing between oolong varieties is whether their leaves have been rolled or twisted. Typically, those which are rolled will be lighter in flavor and greener in color, as less of their surface area is exposed to air. Twisted oolong varieties are less commonly found but they steep easier and faster since their leaves haven’t been as tightly wound as rolled varieties. Due to its diverse features, oolong provides the tea-lover room to explore. So try several varieties out, making a simple iced tea or tea latte and seeing which you like best.

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Pu-erh Tea

Originating in Yunnan, China, pu-erh tea comes from the large-leaf Assamica variety of the Camellia sinensis plant and its heritage and classification is protected by the government, much like champagne or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. There are two main categories of pu-erh tea, known as sheng, or raw pu-erh, and shou, or ripe pu-erh. Raw pu-erh tea is first withered and then heated in batches to slow the oxidation process as well as to reduce water. It’s then dried in the sun, pressed into cakes, and aged for anywhere from 3 months to more than 30 years. Aging the tea allows its flavor to mature and mellow, so a quality raw pu-erh should taste full-bodied but not astringent. Ripe pu-erh is a recent invention in terms of tea production, starting in the 1970s when makers developed a method to speed up processing. After the leaves are sundried they are piled and left in temperature-controlled conditions, allowing them to ferment before they are compressed. This matures the flavor of the tea in a matter of months, not years, and although ripe pu-erh is often made with lower quality leaves, it can yield a unique, earthy flavor often sought out by tea-lovers. Due to its more intense flavor, both raw and ripe pu-erh tea pairs wonderfully with savory dishes like seaweed egg drop soup or pan-fried dumplings.

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Herbal Tea

Although technically tea must come from the Camellia sinensis plant, practically speaking, many herbal infusions are also categorized as tea. Popular varieties of herbal tea include mint, chamomile, and yerba mate. Each herbal tea is as unique as the blend or ingredients used, so the category is quite broad. Herbal teas are not only enjoyed for their flavor and aroma but their medicinal qualities as well. Take sage tea, which is proclaimed to have wound healing and mood-lifting effects, or turmeric tea, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Another benefit to herbal tea is that many varieties are caffeine-free, so if you’re prone to the jitters, this category of teas is a good option.

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FAQs

What type of tea is yellow? ›

The two main types of Yellow tea are Huo Shan Huang Ya (Amber Mountain) and Jun Shan Yinzhen. The latter is more expensive and because it is produced in silly small quantities, the majority of Jun Shan Yinzhen that is sold overseas is a pale imitation of the good stuff with a hefty price tag so be careful when buying!

What are the 4 types of tea? ›

Tea 101: Your Guide to Tea

They are 4 main varieties of tea: White Tea, Green Tea, Oolong Tea, and Black Tea. Black tea is historically the most common in the western world, but green tea is rapidly gaining lost ground.

How do I know what kind of tea I have? ›

Green tea should smell grassy, light and fresh, while black tea should smell earthy, floral and sweet. When steeped, excellent tea should be deeply aromatic and amplify the unique scents of the dry tea leaves. Taste: Great tea will have a strong, recognizable taste and mouthfeel.

What tea is pink? ›

Sheer chai, also called Noon Chai, gulabi chai, Kashmiri tea or pink tea, is a traditional tea beverage, originating in Kashmir. It is made with gunpowder tea (green tea leaves rolled into small balls), milk and baking soda.

How many colors of tea are there? ›

While there are literally thousands of teas in the world, as a subject of classification tea can be broken down into six main types: black, green, oolong, white, pu-erh and yellow.

Which type of tea is best? ›

The Best Teas to Drink for Your Health
  • Best for Overall Health: Green Tea.
  • Best for Gut Health: Ginger Tea.
  • Best for Lung Health: Herbal Tea.
  • Best for Sickness: Peppermint Tea.
  • Best at Bedtime: Chamomile Tea.
  • What about black teas?
13 Aug 2021

What is the most common tea? ›

Black TEA. Black teas are perhaps the most common on the market.

What type of tea is chai? ›

Summary: Chai tea is traditional Indian milky tea made from a blend of black tea, ginger and other spices. It can be consumed in various forms and may provide a variety of health benefits.

What is the most popular hot tea? ›

Green Tea

Green tea is the most popular tea globally. It's unoxidized and has less caffeine than black tea. Camellia sinensis leaves are picked, dried, and heat-treated to prevent oxidation. In China, people often pan-fire leaves, which creates a duller green color.

What is true tea? ›

True tea refers to the steepings of the leaves of the plant Camellia Sinensis. Whenever the leaves of Camellia Sinensis is present you can think of them as teas.

What is tea and its types? ›

All tea comes from only one plant called Camellia sinensis. However, based on the type of tea leaves picked and the level of oxidation or processing, tea is classified into five main types: Black, Green, Oolong, White, and Pu-erh.

What type of tea is Lipton? ›

Lipton uses the finest quality orange pekoe and pekoe cut black teas. Each tea leaf is picked at the peak of flavor and carefully blended by Lipton tea experts. Some are selected for their rich flavor, some for their bright, sparkling color, and others to provide full body and consistency.

What teas are not black tea? ›

Black tea, green tea, white tea, oolong tea, pu-erh tea, and purple tea are all made from the camellia sinensis tea plant. Each of these teas develops their unique characteristics through different harvesting and processing methods. Some teas are steamed, some are pan-fired.

What type of tea is Earl GREY? ›

Earl Grey tea is one of the best-known tea blends on the market. Traditionally, it's a simple blend of black tea and oil of bergamot. Other tea bases are also used, including green tea, oolong, and rooibos. Bergamot oil is derived from the rind of a fruit called the bergamot orange, commonly grown in Italy.

What is purple tea? ›

Purple tea is a rare type of tea made from purple leaves sourced from Kenya. It has a brilliant purple hue that also contains great health benefits that go beyond even the healthy properties of green or black tea. These benefits include anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-aging, and antioxidant properties.

Which state is famous for chai? ›

Even today, Assam reigns as a supreme producer in tea cultivation in India. Assam produces more than 50 percent of the total tea production of the country, making it the largest producer of tea in India. Looking for a chai masala?

What is Kashmiri chai good for? ›

As per Kashmiri folklore, noon chai is refreshing in the heat and resists cold during winters. It is known to prevent heartburn and bloating because of the cardamom and baking soda content. It is also known to reduce stress and anxiety as it contains L-theanine, an amino acid component, according to reports.

Which Colour tea is best? ›

White tea is the purest and least processed of all teas. White tea has a light colour and flavour and is appreciated by tea connoisseurs for its unmatched subtlety, natural sweetness and delicacy .

What is color of tea called? ›

They are called 'blue-green', and 'yellow', and 'violet', and 'turquoise' (turquoise being the most common name nowadays). But let us not make up the most suitable color-name for these teas and continue calling them the name the Chinese gave them — oolongs. Li Shan. Oolong Tea.

What is the color of milk tea? ›

Milk tea hair is a combination of brown and blonde. These two hues are expertly mixed together to create a chic, creamy color that's neither too warm nor too cool. It's actually perfect for Filipinas because it can bring out the golden undertones of their complexions.

Which tea is healthiest? ›

Green Tea. Green tea is often touted as the healthiest tea. It is chock full of polyphenols and antioxidants that help to boost brain and heart health. Green tea is considered one of the least processed true teas as it does not undergo oxidation.

What tea is good for liver and kidneys? ›

Green tea and green tea extract have been linked to powerful liver-protective effects.

What are the five true teas? ›

There are 5 main types of tea: White, Green, Blue-green (Oolong), Black (Red) and Pu-erh. There is also a sixth type of tea, Yellow tea. But this type is so rare nowadays that it is considered a disappearing type of tea.

Which tea is famous in USA? ›

America's favorite kind is black tea, which accounts for more than half of all tea consumed in the country. Fruit and herbal tea, which accounts for just over a quarter of U.S. tea consumption, is second on the list.

What tea goes well with milk? ›

Which teas go well with milk?
  • Dark roasted oolong teas. Dark roasted oolong go well with milk. ...
  • Ripe Pu'erh tea. Although Pu'erh belongs to dark and not black teas, it can be made with milk. ...
  • Hojicha tea. ...
  • Rooibos tea. ...
  • Chamomile tea. ...
  • Yellow tea.
3 Apr 2019

What is a dirty chai? ›

A Dirty Chai is a regular cup of chai latte with a shot of espresso. Double the espresso shot, and you have a Filthy Chai Latte. Make with non-dairy milk, and you have a Dirty Hippie Chai Latte.

Is chai tea good for liver? ›

It has anti-bacterial properties and is excellent for indigestion. CLOVES: Cloves disinfects the liver while strengthening the immune system and detoxifying the body. They have anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties and are beneficial for digestion.

Is chai tea high in sugar? ›

First, brewed chai tea contains a lot of sugar. If you are making or drinking the traditional one, make sure to reduce the sugar or use an alternative sweetener. Even better, avoid sweeteners completely, and treat yourself to a sweetened tea only for special occasions. Next, spices may cause heartburn in some people.

Is there any yellow tea? ›

Yellow tea is one of the six types of tea produced from the Camellia Sinensis tea plant. In the United States, very few specialty tea stores offer yellow tea as it's a rare tea primarily available in China. The term "yellow tea" comes from the liquor-like hue of this tea.

Is yellow tea black tea? ›

It's made from the same tea plant as other real teas – Camellia sinensis and different tea varietals. Yellow tea is more processed than white and green tea, but less processed than black tea. It's the most similar to green tea, but with a more mellow flavor. Yellow tea is lightly fermented.

What is yellow tea made of? ›

Yellow tea comes from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The leaves from this tea plant are also used to make white tea, green tea, oolong tea, pu-erh tea, and black tea. Yellow tea is produced almost exclusively in China.

Why is yellow tea rare? ›

Sadly due to the popularity of green teas, the time-consuming processing, and slow loss of the knowledge on how to produce the tea, Yellow tea is slowly going extinct. Many growers are only briefly yellowing the teas or skipping the Men Huang step entirely.

Can yellow tea burn fat? ›

An extract prepared from yellow tea is believed to contain elements which can stimulate your metabolism and burn fat. So, if you want to lose weight, consuming yellow tea is the way to go.

Is yellow tea good for heart? ›

Polyphenols in yellow teas are known to promote digestive health and a healthy heart. Polyphenols also improve blood sugar levels, aid diabetes treatment, weight loss and prevent cancer.

Does yellow tea help lose weight? ›

Yes, Lipton Yellow tea does help with weight loss. It has a high level of antioxidants that detox the body and increase metabolism. It also reduces appetite, hence contributing to weight loss.

What type of tea is Lipton? ›

Lipton uses the finest quality orange pekoe and pekoe cut black teas. Each tea leaf is picked at the peak of flavor and carefully blended by Lipton tea experts. Some are selected for their rich flavor, some for their bright, sparkling color, and others to provide full body and consistency.

What is black tea called? ›

Black tea, also known as “red tea” in China for its rich, reddish infusion, is unique in that it is comprised of two different forms of the camellia sinensis plant: camellia sinensis sinensis and camellia sinensis assamica.

Is Five Roses black tea? ›

Five Roses has the widest range of tea products, offering black teabags, rooibos and speciality Infusion teas to name a few – along with tea caddie organisers for ease of use and display.

What tea is the healthiest to drink? ›

When it comes to tea, green tea gets the gold. “Green tea is the champ when it comes to offering health benefits,” says Czerwony.

What tea is red? ›

Rooibos tea is also known as red tea or red bush tea. It is made using leaves from a shrub called Aspalathus linearis, usually grown on the western coast of South Africa (1). Rooibos is a herbal tea and is not related to green or black tea.

What is purple tea good for? ›

Purple Tea leaves have more antioxidants than any other tea leaf! The leaves have anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer properties and reduce cholesterol, boost cognitive function and prevent colds and flus. And because of how this tea is produced, it has half the caffeine of green tea.

Does yellow tea have caffeine? ›

Yellow Tea contains 7.88 mg of caffeine per fl oz (26.63 mg per 100 ml). A 8 fl oz cup has a total of 63 mg of caffeine.

Who invented yellow tea? ›

Yellow tea (Huang Cha – 黄茶) is one of the six main types of tea that originated in China. It is mentioned as early as the Tang dynasty. By then, this kind of tea from Anhui and Sichuan provinces had become a tribute tea.

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