The world of tea holds countless wonders, both for purists and beginners alike! Can you believe that all the different types of tea come from the same mother plant! Be it the splendor of Black Teas or a sprightly Turmeric Tea, there's something for everyone. Read the best guide there is to knowing the varieties of Tea and what do they taste like.
Tea is the second most consumed beverage on earth, after water. Tea has been around for thousands of years where one can trace back its history and origin to ancient cultures in Asia. It has made its way, evolved alongside the human civilization and now there are so many types of tea, all with their unique set of incredible health benefits, and a world of lively, sumptuous flavors.
Thanks to several research publications that prove the many health benefits of tea, tea is a preferred choice of caffeine for many. While Black teas, green teas, and Matcha have lesser caffeine than coffee, there are several teas which are caffeine-free, low-calorie and full of beneficial antioxidants. But one interesting fact, that all of these teas come from the same mother plant - Camellia Sinensis.
So in this blog, we shall take a look at the types of tea, their origin, tea health benefits, and the motley of wonderful flavors that each tea has to offer.
The Varieties of Tea
There are several tea varieties found across the globe, but we are going to take a look at the most common tea varieties that are more widely consumed. Although all tea comes from the same mother plant, Camellia Sinensis, different varieties of the tea are made using a careful play of the process of Oxidation. Read more about the process of oxidation and how it is done in detail in our ‘Black Tea Vs Green Tea’ blog.
Now let us learn about different kinds of tea available. All the varieties of teas mentioned below share their origins in China, but differ in the way they are harvested, processed and also have some unique health benefits.
Harvested from the leaves and buds of the mother plant- Camellia Sinensis, Black Teas are fully oxidized teas, in which the tea leaves have been oxidized, which turns the green color to a dark copper color. These oxidized leaves are then fired/baked to reduce the moisture content to 3% - 4%, which also contributes to its black color. Black teas are primarily grown in China and India, in addition to some other countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Kenya and Vietnam.
Indian black teas are usually bolder and have a nuanced flavor profile, as compared to Chinese black teas. The two most popular kinds of Indian black teas are Assam Black Teas and Darjeeling Black Teas. Read detailed guides about our Assam teas here and Darjeeling Teas here to choose your cup of tea.
Black teas contain flavonoids which are polyphenolic compounds, powerful antioxidants, that reduce the risk of cardiac diseases and help improve the functions of the heart. Drinking black teas can also help strengthen your immunity and helps reduce the risk of Type-2 Diabetes. It also boosts our energy levels and improves alertness.
Flavor profile : Black teas have a nuanced flavor profile and can have malty or smoky notes. They can flavors that earthy, nutty, caramel-like, fruity and nutty as well.
Green Teas are made using the leaves of the tea plant - Camellia Sinensis and they offer a liquor that ranges between pale yellow to pale green in color. They have a rich vegetal taste and have wonderful herbaceous flavors with a milder caffeine content that black teas. As opposed to black teas, green teas are not oxidized and hence retain the natural green color. They straight go for a quick heat treatment in which the tea enzyme is destroyed, before being processed further.
It contains natural antioxidants and a special class of them called ‘Catechins’ is what makes green teas incredibly beneficial for you. EGCG, a type of catechin, has powerful antioxidant properties that reduce cell damage and can cut down the risk of chronic diseases. In addition to caffeine, green teas also contain L-theanine which helps in increasing the alpha activity of the brain, improving the functions of the brain. Green Tea boosts metabolism, helps improve physical performance and aids weight loss. Find out which are the 5 Best Green teas of the season for you to try!
Flavor profile : Green Tea has a flavor profile that can vary from being grassy and pan-fired, to being sweet, vegetal and reminiscent of steamed greens. If you follow the brewing instructions well, green tea will have very minimal astringency and a light colored liquor.
White teas are one of the least processed teas in the world of teas. One of the rarest teas in the world, they are are actually harvested from fresh, tender buds that appear when the tea leaves have not even opened fully. The young tender buds are covered with white hairs which are responsible for the characteristic white color of these teas and the name as well. They are steamed or fried to prevent the oxidation process.
White teas have a lower caffeine content than Black and Green teas. It boasts of a higher amount of antioxidants as compared to Black and Green teas, that gives white tea its’ unique health benefits. White teas have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, can reduce cell damage and offer anti-ageing benefits. Drinking white tea regularly can help reduce the levels of bad cholesterol and helps cut down risks of cardiac diseases. White teas can improve dental health, help reduce insulin resistance, and also help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Read this dedicated guide to White Teas.
Flavor Profile : White teas boast of floral, grassy or honey-like notes. The aromatic flavor notes of white teas can be reminiscent of apricot, vanilla, herbs and are usually very delicate.
Oolong teas are made by partially oxidizing the leaves and buds of Camellia Sinensis. The oxidation levels can range anywhere between 10-80%. Oolong teas fall in between black and green teas in terms of being oxidized, and can offer a pale yellow to a rich amber-like liquor. Some rare Oolong teas are then hand-rolled which also helps in unlocking nuanced flavors and aromas of these ambrosian teas.
Oolong teas can have powerful health benefits like reducing the risk of Type-2 diabetes, help improve your heart health, helps increase the number of calories one burns and aids weight loss too. Great for improving brain functions and in uplifting overall mood, Oolong teas are truly a delight.
Flavor Profile : Oolong teas can have a variety of flavors, depending on how much the tea has been oxidized. The flavor notes can range from floral to grassy, and subtly sweet to toasty.
Herbal Teas or Herbal Tisanes
Herbal Teas are a concoction of one or more herbs, spices, florals, or other botanicals that are brewed in hot water. The term ‘teas’ attached here is actually a misnomer as herbal teas don’t contain any tea at all, but are only made of botanical ingredients.
Herbal tisanes are caffeine-free as they do not contain any tea and are a great way to cut down on caffeine intake. Loaded with beneficial antioxidants and several nutrients, herbal teas are great holistic solutions to cure common ailments like cold and flu, cough, headaches, upset stomach or indigestion, bloating, improving immunity, sleep etc.
Flavor Profile : It totally depends on what herbs, florals or spices are being used in the blend. Turmeric Teas, for instance, will have earthy and spiced flavors. Ginger teas have a sweet and spicy flavors. Some tisanes like Chamomile Tea and Hibiscus Tea have a sweet or tangy flavor notes.
Whatever be your need or preference, the world of teas has so much to offer. Head to our dedicated blog section on tea guides and read the most interesting, well-researched articles on the various types of teas and what they can offer! We sincerely hope you enjoy reading this guide and come back for more. Tell us what your favorite type of tea is and why, in the comments below.
Until next time,
Editor-in-Chief | Vahdam India
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