Tea is one of the most popular after-food drinks in the world, but still very few people are aware that there are four inherently different flavors and types of tea one can find in every supermarket. Each tea is made out of different ingredients and each tea has its advantages and disadvantages. I will explain.
What you should always remember is that there are only four types of tea.
- Black tea
- Green tea
- White tea
- Oolong tea
All these are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis, also known as the tea plant. Other herbal infusions such as chamomile tea, ginger tea, or red tea made of rooibos leaves are disqualified as types of tea since the tea plant is not involved in their making. The difference between the four tea variations lies in the process of making them. In addition, each type of tea has another flavor and various health benefits.
The strong-flavored burnt Sienna-colored hot beverage is the most popular type of tea in the West. Either served with a squeeze of lemon or added milk and a cube of sugar, the cup of black tea is part of daily tea ceremonies that take place worldwide. Black tea is made of heavily oxidized Camellia sinensis leaves. When served plain, it contains no calories, carbohydrates, or fats. A cup of black tea contains more caffeine than any other type of tea but less than in any cup of coffee.
The lightly oxidized tea has been popular in China, Japan, and Korea for centuries. Recently, rumors about its health benefits increased its popularity in the West as well. It has been proven that drinking green tea can lower cholesterol, prevent cancer, increase metabolic rates and be helpful in a variety of other conditions and illnesses. The green tea is lightly oxidized, and dried, but not fermented. It is usually served plain, without sugar or milk. Since some of the green tea variants taste a bit bitter, they should be brewed at a lower temperature than the boiling point.
White tea is rarer and more expensive than the other types of teas mentioned above. Originating in the Fujian province of china, the white tea is made of young Camellia sinensis leaves, which go through a long process of steaming or frying, inactivating fermenting, and drying. Since the leaves are harvested while the buds are still covered by white hair, it is called white tea. White tea has the most delicate, sweet taste of the other types of tea. Moreover, it contains the smallest amount of caffeine and the largest amount of antioxidants that help prevent cancer.
Traditional Chinese tea is the common companion of Chinese foods such as dim sum and chop suey in American Chinese restaurants. The oolong tea, black dragon in Chinese, got its name after its long, dark distinguished leaves that look like wild black dragons when brewed. The unique taste of the oolong tea is achieved by a long process that includes sun drying of the Camellia sinensis leaves, light oxidization, and cooling and drying processes. The result is a lighter flavor than the popular black tea and stronger than the delicate green tea.