WHAT TYPES OF TEA ARE THERE AND HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT?
We love our coffee and tea. They help us create moments of ritual and calm—leaving us energized and ready for the rigours of the day. A good cup of tea can make all the difference.
But what goes into a good cup of tea? While we are at it, what is the difference between all those teas we've heard about while we are at it?
The six major types of tea are green, yellow, white, oolong, black, and dark. Most people really only think of green, white, and black teas when they briskly make their way through the coffee and tea aisle at the supermarket. The amazing diversity of tea is worth celebrating and digging into more.
Just with coffee or wine, drinking tea is an experience worth cultivating. Tea from different geographies, climates, and varieties of tea trees makes for a never-ending pursuit that you can enjoy for years.
Building basic knowledge of tea-making categories is enough to get you started on your own journey. A journey that Aussie Veterans Coffee Co hopes to share with you for a long time. We offer dozens of choices for your tea so that you can continuously explore this vast world.
WHAT IS TEA MADE FROM?
All true tea is made from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis trees. The main differences in the spectrum of teas are the level of oxidation the tea leaves undergo after being removed from the tree. This can roughly be equated with the controlled wilting (or drying) process of the leaf from fresh-off-the-tree all the way to browning and hardening.
This oxidation can be brought on by manual drying processes, the passing of time, and some heat treatments. There are many different steps and possibilities in getting tea to oxidize, but the final end product falls into one of our six categories.
OTHER FACTORS THAT CHANGE TEA.
Tea leaves’ taste and aroma profiles change as they go through this oxidation process. Though roughly, the kind of tea (green, black, etc.) is determined by this oxidation phase, there are other variables at play. There are numerous taste profiles and aromas that any one can have.
There are various varieties of tea trees, with subtle differences which inform the final bouquet and taste of tea. Soil contents and thus the nutrients that tea gets as it grows also change the taste. Climate also plays a huge factor as well. How much rain, average temperatures, humidity, elevation, days of sunlight, and the list goes on and on of variables that play into the final cup.
HOW IS TEA STEEPED?
Tea is steeped in hot water (not quite boiling). It is important to use the right amount of tea for the desired strength of the tea. All Aussie Veterans Coffee Co tea has steeping instructions. This includes the amount of tea, water, water temperature, and steeping duration. All these factors change with the type of tea that is being enjoyed, so it is best to follow the instructions on the packaging. Of course, you are welcome to experiment to see how variables affect the final cup but also to discover your favourite methods.
The best tea usually comes ’loose’ (as in loose leaf tea) and is steeped in a filter. The filter should allow water to freely come in and leave when you place it into your cup. The filter simply maintains the separation of the tea from the water so that there is very little residue left when you remove it. The mesh filter allows the leaves to be separable from the water but still lets them infuse in the water.
Different Types of Tea - From Green to Dark
There are many different types of tea that stem from the overall level of oxidation. Most people may have only tried two to four of these. It is very much worth trying them all. You might be surprised with what you end up enjoying the best.
Let’s look at these different types of tea in some detail.
What is Green Tea Like?
Green tea is a type of tea that is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis. It is the least oxidized of our lot. Green tea can taste mild or even grassy. The most popular types of green tea are Sencha, Jade, Jasmine, and Matcha.
The leaves used to make green tea are steamed or allowed to air dry before being heated to stop oxidation and make them turn green in colour. The flavour depends on how long the leaf is exposed to oxygen before it is heated.
What is Yellow Tea Like?
Yellow tea is a type of Chinese tea made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. It can be consumed both hot and cold and has a slightly sweet taste.
Many people have heard about the health benefits that come with drinking this type of tea. This includes lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure, boosting immunity, and more.
It is one of the most popular teas in China and can be found in many different places worldwide. It is not very common in the West, so you may have not heard of it.
What is White Tea Like?
White tea is a type of tea that is made from the buds and leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The leaves for white tea are commonly left to dry without any other manual intervention (like bruising the leaves or using heat to dehydrate). They retain much of their own flavour and sweetness through this process. This is part of the reason why white tea is so crisp.
White tea is most prevalent in China and Japan but has become more popular worldwide in recent years. Depending on the drinker's preference, it can be enjoyed hot or cold.
What is Oolong Tea Like?
Oolong tea is a type of Chinese tea that is semi-oxidized. It is processed and prepared in a way that it falls between green and black teas. The taste of oolong tea varies, but usually, it has a light and refreshing taste with hints of sweetness.
The most popular types of oolong tea are Tie Guan Yin, Ruby Oolong, and Wuyi Oolongs.
WHAT IS BLACK TEA LIKE?
Black tea is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, the same plant that produces green and white teas. The difference between black tea and other types of tea is its oxidation level. Black teas are top-rated amongst the U.K., U.S., and Australian populations. This is likely because black tea was more apt to survive the long treks to European countries on some of the earliest international trade routes (land and sea).
What is Dark Tea Like?
Dark tea, also known as red tea in some areas, is a type of tea that has high levels of oxidation. It is the most oxidised of our list of six tea types.
This tea is typically black in colour and has a strong taste. It can be made from various tea plants, including Camellia sinensis, Camellia assamica, and Camellia oleifera. The main is by far Camellia Sinensis. Dark tea is often traditionally fermented but can also be made, not fermented. This is another type of tea not known by many.
A popular variety of dark tea is Pu’er tea which is enjoyed in China, Laos, Vietnam, and other locations.
What are Herbal Teas and Their Benefits?
Herbal teas are not actually true tea. True tea is made from Camellia Sinensis, which is caffeinated. That means that herbal teas are made from other entirely caffeine-free products. This is a helpful distinction in understanding herbal teas' taste profiles since they are different from the six traditional categories of tea.
Popular herbal teas are Rooibos and Aspalathus linearis though there are quite a few others.
Tea is a beautiful drink that brings people together. It has been a part of our lives for centuries and is not going away anytime soon.
The world of tea is vast, and there are many different types to explore. We’re proud to offer you many kinds of tea and coffee to explore and enjoy.
Looking forward to diving deeper into each type of tea in the next instalment of A Guide To Tea.
Until next time, keep supporting each other.