The Different Types of Tea
By Stephanie Jarrett, Everything Arlington
Hot tea is a drink I crave this time of year for both its warmth and its medicinal properties. A warm cup of chamomile tea is very calming before bed, and a piping-hot cup of green tea with a splash of milk really perks me up after a morning run. I love a rich chai tea latte from Starbucks on a blustery afternoon (try this mix for a DIY chai tea latte at home!). My love of hot tea got me thinking: how many different types of tea are there? And what is the difference between the different types of tea?
Different Types of Tea Available
There are four different types of tea: white tea, green tea, oolong tea and black tea. Did you know that herbal teas aren’t actually teas? Herbal teas, while generally considered types of tea, are actually referred to as ‘tisanes’, or infused beverages made with anything but actual tea leaves. (Tisane is a French word meaning infusion.) So herbal tea, Rooibos, ginger tea, dandelion tea, peppermint tea, chamomile tea and so on are actually tisanes and not true teas. Who knew?
- Green tea is generally thought to be the healthiest tea. It is made by grinding tea leaves into a fine powder. Green tea is one of the least processed teas because it does not undergo oxidation. Green tea is quite popular in Japan, where it is often ground into a fine powder called Matcha.
- Black tea is the most widely consumed tea in the world. Black tea contains the highest amount of caffeine of any tea, and the leaves take on a deep black color after they’re harvested, rolled and oxidized, according to Sencha Tea Bar. Black tea is the most popular tea in India, where it is often blended with spices to make chai tea. Fun fact: the word chai simply means tea!
- Oolong tea is sort of the middle-man between black tea and green tea. It is semi-oxidized, meaning that the leaves ferment for a short amount of time. Oolong tea is quite popular in China.
- White tea is the least processed of the four main types of tea. The leaves are picked and then sun-dried as-is. For this reason, white tea is considered one of the most natural teas. White tea is also most popular in China.
Health Benefits from Drinking Different Types of Tea
Teas and tisanes are known around the globe as health elixirs. Teas have been consumed for centuries to cure a number of ailments, from fevers to insomnia and everything in-between. Drinking different types of tea offers a slew of health benefits
According to WebMD, there are several benefits to drinking a cup of tea each day.
- Green tea is rich in antioxidants that may help prevent various types of cancer, including breast and stomach cancer, and may also help prevent arteries from clogging, reducing the risk of stroke and lowering cholesterol levels.
- Black tea may protect your lungs from damage caused by cigarette smoke and may reduce the risk of stroke as well. It may also reduce the risk of death from heart disease.
- Oolong tea may help lower bad cholesterol.
- White tea may have the strongest anti-cancer properties of all teas, because it is not as processed as other teas.
Health Benefits of Herbal Tisanes
- Chamomile tisane is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also thought to help calm the mind and relax the body. It’s perfect before bedtime.
- Ginger tisane is commonly prescribed in the early days of pregnancy to help alleviate the nausea that comes with morning sickness. It is also thought to help with upset stomachs.
- Peppermint tisane is also a great remedy for nausea and indigestion. It can help boost the immune system and aid in weight loss, according to TeaMinded.
- Rooibos tisane is rich in antioxidants and offers many heart-healthy perks. It is thought to help lower bad cholesterol and aid in weight management.
How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea
To brew the perfect cup of tea, you just need to follow a few quick steps.
- Select your tea bag or loose tea and place a in tea cup or mug.
- Boil water on the stove in a pot or tea kettle.
- Once water boils, immediately pour it over the tea bag or tea leaves.
- Steep the tea. The length of time you steep your tea depends on what type of tea you are brewing. For example, according to tea brand Twinings, green tea should be steeped for two minutes; black tea should be steeped for four minutes; oolong tea should be steeped for three minutes; and white tea should be steeped for one minute. For a milder flavor, shorten the brew times above. For stronger flavor, you should increase the brew time.
- Flavor tea to your liking with milk or sugar (or leave it as is!), serve it up on a cute tray and enjoy!
The Origins of Tea
The true beginnings of tea are hard to nail down, but it is believed tea originated in China between 1500 and 1000 BC. Tea was discovered as a medicinal drink and its widespread use became common in China around 210 AD.
In the 17th Century, tea was imported and consumed in Holland (not England, contrary to popular belief). In 1657, the first shop to sell tea in England opened and sold tea imported by the Dutch. Tea became more popular in London, where coffee had been the preferred drink for some time.
Tea came to North American in the mid-1600s and was initially quite popular. However, when political tensions between the colonies and England came to a (pun intended) boiling point in 1773, and colonists dumped tea into the Boston Harbor to protest taxes, tea fell out of favor and the drink was soon considered unpatriotic. Tea came back into favor in the United States during the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, when a tea merchant from abroad introduced iced tea to Americans.
Today, tea is the world’s most popular beverage, after water. Enjoy your favorite tea and stay hydrated!