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The Amazing World of Different Types of Tea, A Beginner's guide

The Amazing World of Different Types of Tea, A Beginner's guide

Oct 02, 2022

Johnathan Milton

In a world full of diverse teas, it seems impossible to find a starting point to learn about different types of teas.  Some experts say that there are nearly 20,000 types of tea worldwide. The world offers you Green Teas, Black Teas, White Teas, Iced Teas, Herbal Teas, and more! So as a beginner, you might wonder if you will ever conquer this massive world of tea? Well, calm down! Tea J Tea is here to take you on this slow yet informative journey. We will teach you all about tea, or as much as we can. For us, tea is not just another beverage; it’s a whole new world full of flavors, aromas, and even cultures and art. We’ve been to almost every corner of this flavorful journey, and now it’s your turn to learn. Welcome aboard!

What is Tea? 

Each flavorful tea dream begins with two leaves and a bud. Yes, to answer the questions of ‘what is tea’ or ‘what real tea is', we need to start this story with the tea plant. The tea plant "Camellia Sinensis” is the origin point of each true or real tea. Beverages from other plants, like herbal teas or Tisane teas are not real teas in this perspective. In fact, there are many differences between pure tea vs tisane teas.  For this article, we’ll focus on real teas. If you want to learn more about tisane teas like Spearmint tea of Peppermint tea, check out our other blogs.

Does Tea Contain Caffeine?

The simple answer is yes; all the real tea types contain caffeine as a core ingredient. It is also important to know that a cup of tea contains about half the concentration of caffeine compared to a similar cup of coffee. The amount of caffeine that you consume from your cup of tea will depend on several factors. These factors include the style of tea leaf, brewing methodology, and water temperature, to name a few. 

Curious about your daily caffeine intake? Learn about the caffeine content in various types of tea with our comprehensive guide: 'How Much Caffeine Is In Tea?,' and make informed choices for a balanced and energized lifestyle

How does a single Tea plant produce different types of teas?

So how could a single plant be the foundation for the thousands of different tea types? This is the next most vital point to learn. Simply put, the magic is in the processing style. During the processing, it goes through a few essential steps, especially a process called oxidation. The level to which the tea is exposed to oxygen determines the properties and benefits of the tea. If we take a holistic perspective, the six main tea types are identified based on the level of oxidation and a few other special processes, which are explained within this article.

There's a common misunderstanding in using the term "fermentation" in place of "oxidation" in tea. These are two deferent phenomena and here's our guide on the differences between fermentation and oxidation.

From the least level of oxidation to the most, the order is as follows: White tea, Green Tea, Yellow Tea, Oolong Tea, Black Tea & Pu-erh tea. Among these different types of teas, identifying the best tea or the worse tea is difficult. Flavor preferences are subjective between people, and the flavor properties of each tea are different based on the processing style. As a beginner in tea, you can choose to consume any of these tea types per your flavor preference. 

More about six different types of teas in the world

Different tea types like Black tea, Green tea, White tea, Oolong tea, and Pu-erh teas arranged in ceramic containers 

White tea: 

This is the most delicate version of all real teas. As we explained before, White teas do not go through the oxidation phase, and the leaf’s chemical composition remains intact. If we compare White tea with the other different types of teas, the chemical composition of White tea remains almost similar to a newly harvested fresh tea leaf. Usually, tea makers harvest the tender tea buds of the tea plant for producing White teas. From there, it goes through a simple drying process after harvesting. Due to this minimal processing style, the White tea steeps into a pale white liquor. The taste is similar to water with a mellow and floral flavor profile. 

Many tea lovers associate White tea benefits with healthy skin and beauty. However, as tea lovers, we must know that all these benefits result from the rich antioxidant properties of White tea. Simply, you can enjoy many other benefits of White tea, such as better weight management and heart health, through frequent consumption of White tea.

Green tea: 

As the name signifies, Green tea is greenish in appearance. It sometimes results in a pale yellow to greenish brew when you steep it. The prevalent flavor note for this tea is a grassy & vegetal flavor profile. During the processing of Green tea, the oxidation step is eliminated to preserve its greenish appearance and grassy flavor profile. There is a common misconception that the Green tea plant is different from other tea plants. But as we explained before, it is a fundamental fact for tea consumers and enthusiasts to understand that all the different tea types originate from a single plant called "Camellia Sinensis.

When it comes to the benefits of Green tea, the most popular highlight is that it has fat-burning properties. Apart from that, similar to every other real tea plant, Green tea’s benefits include antioxidant properties, anti-aging properties, anti-cancer properties, and better brain function.  

Explore further secrets of green tea and its caffeine content with our insightful guide: 'How Much Caffeine is in Green Tea?' Discover the perfect balance of alertness and tranquility with this popular beverage. 

Yellow tea: 

This is the rarest and most exclusive tea out of all the tea types! The tea is made in small volumes and is often expensive. The Yellow tea processing style is quite similar to Green tea. It doesn’t go through oxidation or experience very little of it. However, Yellow tea has a unique process called “sweltering” or “yellowing” that helps to develop its color and delicate flavor. (Refer to our tea manufacturing processes article for more information) Sipping a Yellow tea is like sipping a very mellow Green tea. It comes with a more refined and less vegetal flavor profile. Yellow tea is also considered  rich in antioxidants. The popular tea benefits for it include properties such as better heart health, better digestion, and better regulation of diabetes.

Oolong tea: 

Oolong tea is a partially oxidized tea and bears interim characteristics to Black and Green tea. Oolong tea can be oxidized from 15% to 85%. This makes it the most diverse type of tea available in the market for both liquor and flavor profiles, in our humble opinion. This tea’s liquor displays a pale yellow to brownish liquor with mild to intense flavor notes. Creamy, fruity, floral, smokey, or toasty are some terms used for describing the different flavors of Oolong tea. The tea contains intermediary characteristics to Black tea and Green tea. Therefore, tea experts say that the Oolong tea benefits include similar attributes to both Black tea and Green tea. Among all tea benefits, fat-burning properties mark the top of the list. 

Black tea:

Black tea is the most common and popular tea type among many tea drinkers. The leaves are black, while the brew showcases a deep reddish hue as a result of the oxidation processing. Black tea is fully oxidized, and you can experience the full flavor spectrum of a rich tea. Tea connoisseurs use terms such as full-bodied, earthy, & brisk to explain the Black tea flavor. 

Among many different types of tea, Black tea is regarded as the most popular tea type. It contributes to nearly 75% of global tea production. If we compare Green tea vs Black tea, the prominent differences are the flavor, aroma, and color of the brew. According to scientific findings, Black tea is good for you both physically and mentally.  It could improve physical wellness, mental focus, and alertness. Furthermore, other benefits of Black tea include rich antioxidant properties, better heart health & energy, and better control of diabetes.

Pu-erh tea:

Pu-erh or post-fermented tea is another exclusive type of tea, and unlike other teas, Pu-erh tea gets better with time. Similar to the wine industry, Pu’erh is considered to be the ‘best tea’ as it continues to age. The special aspect of this tea lies in its processing style. To produce Pu-erh the fully oxidized Black tea undergoes another phase for microbial fermentation. This phase causes the aging in the tea. Within the class of Pu-erh teas, there are two main types. These types include Raw Pu-erh (Sheng) and Ripe Pu-erh (Shou/Shu), and we will discuss more in other articles. The original Pu-erh flavors are more refined and earthy, similar to aged fine wine. 

Over the years, the post-fermentation process has been applied to white tea and green teas. The process created the White Pu'erh and Green Pu’erh variations. However, the original Pu’erh is created using a black tea base. When it comes to the benefits of Pu-erh tea, it is considered best for improved energy, heart health, and detoxing.

Final Thoughts 

The world of tea is so diverse. The different types of tea that we explained above are only a few basic categories of tea around the globe. Even within these core tea types, there are hundreds of sub-types, which makes it nearly impossible for one to claim that they completely know about all these teas. Moreover, new processes on how to make tea are constantly being developed. But as a beginner in tea, you don’t need to worry too much about mastering every tea category or type. You can take a slow and steady starting point towards learning about tea with informative articles such as this. In the meantime, don’t forget to enjoy a delicious cup of tea from Tea J tea!

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