a guide to the many varieties of tea
Whether you’re hosting a refined brunch or simply curling up with a good book, there’s nothing like a refreshing cup of tea.
Are you intimidated by the many varieties of tea that are on the grocery store shelves? Do you find yourself buying the same teas every time because you aren’t sure what other flavors taste like (or how to brew them)? With more than 3,000 varieties of tea worldwide, including all sorts of trendy, exotic-sounding loose-leaf teas, serving tea has suddenly become much more complicated than steeping a teabag in hot water. Have no fear! We have some tips to help guide you through the various tea varieties.
varieties of tea
Teas are divided into 7 categories: black, white, green, oolong, pu-erh, flavored and blends. However, all teas are actually derived from the same tree, the Camellia sinensis, which is native to China. Note that this does not include tea-like herbal infusions or Tisanes, which are made with various herbs, spices and flowers, but do not contain actual tea. Below are descriptions for each of the 7 types of tea. So take note and try one of these varieties of tea next time you have tea on your shopping list!
1. Black tea
By far the most popular variety of tea, it has a distinctively hearty taste thanks to the fact that the leaves are fully fermented in order to boost both the flavor and caffeine levels.
2. White tea
The rarest of all teas, it’s made from just the unfermented buds of the plant, which impart a delicate, smooth and slightly sweet flavor.
3. Green tea
This unfermented tea is similar to white tea, but uses a higher proportion of leaves to buds to create a uniquely crisp, grassy taste.
4. Oolong tea
This partially-fermented (and pricey) tea boasts a delicate, slightly floral flavor, which is why it’s best served without any cream or sugar.
5. Pu-erh tea
Also known as Puer, this medicinal tea is double-fermented and matured until it forms a thin layer of mold, which imparts a potent earthy taste, as well as serves as an all-natural digestive.
6. Flavored tea
Tea drinking cultures around the world have long used flowers, herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of their teas, but more recently tea producers have started experimenting with everything from banana to toffee pudding flavors, according to StarChefs.com.
Popular blends like Earl Grey and English Breakfast combine a variety of tea in order to achieve a consistent flavor from season to season.