While it may seem like a lot of tea is different, all traditional tea varieties come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The differences are all about the growing region and finishing techniques.
Black teas are heavily oxidized and brew up bold, full-bodied cups with rich flavors. Green teas are delicate and range from light and herbaceous (Silver Needles) to fruity and floral (Bai Mu Dan). And white teas are minimally processed, making them soft, sweet and smooth.
Black tea is a bold, full-bodied version of the tea plant known as Camellia sinensis. It is highly oxidized, resulting in a hearty flavor and moderate caffeine content. It can be flavored and spiced with herbs, flowers or fruits for added complexity. Some flavors that are commonly used in black tea include malty, brisk, earthy, nutty and metallic.
Typically, this beverage is stronger than green tea and can stand up to sugar or cream, though it can be enjoyed plain as well. Black tea has been found to support weight loss and may help lower cholesterol levels. It can also aid in the control of diabetes by improving insulin use and reducing blood sugar levels, as well as protect against heart disease by slowing artery-clogging plaque formation.
It is a great source of antioxidants, including flavonoids, which can boost your immune system and prevent cancer. Black tea also contains the amino acid theanine, which has been shown to promote relaxation and improve mental alertness.
When it comes to selecting a black tea, look for options with high-quality ingredients and a fair trade certification to ensure the tea has been produced ethically. Keep in mind that high-caffeine beverages should be consumed sparingly, especially late in the day, as they can interfere with sleep patterns. Drinking herbal tea in the evening is an excellent option to promote healthy sleep.
Green tea is made from unfermented leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. It has long been considered a healthful drink, particularly for preventing heart disease. In fact, studies show that drinking green tea can help lower cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. It also provides a good source of the amino acid L-theanine and has antioxidant properties.
The flavor of green tea is largely determined by how the leaves are processed. Some green teas are pan-fired (roasted), while others are steamed. Green teas can have a range of flavors, from grassy and seaweedy to citrusy and floral to nutty and woody. Green tea is enjoyed before, during or after meals and can aid digestion.
Most green teas are high in EGCG and flavonoids, which may promote weight loss and boost cardiovascular health by inhibiting fat accumulation and decreasing triglycerides. Green tea also contains L-theanine, a calming and mood stabilizing amino acid that has been shown to reduce stress and improve sleep quality. Other health benefits of green tea include antibacterial and antiviral properties and immune system support.
Depending on the variety, oolong can taste dark and rich or light and crisp. It can also have floral notes, a hint of butter, or savory flavors like nuts. This is the kind of tea that can be steeped a few times, with each brew revealing different layers of flavor. Oolong tea is popular in China and Taiwan, but it can be grown today in India, Sri Lanka, Japan, and even New Zealand.
Known as wulong in Chinese, oolong tea sits somewhere between Green Tea (which isn’t oxidized at all) and Black Tea (which is fully oxidized). The leaves are withered, then rolled and crushed before being partially oxidized. Some oolongs are roasted for long periods of time, and this is what gives them that green tea taste. Others are only roasted a short amount of time, and this is what makes them darker.
The health benefits of oolong are pretty impressive. It’s a great tea to drink when you want to boost your immune system because it contains antioxidants that help reduce cell damage and prevent the onset of cancer and other diseases. It can also help with digestive issues because it helps to promote good bacteria in the gut. And it can help fight against atherosclerosis, which is a condition that leads to heart disease and strokes.
White tea is a delicate and light type of tea that is made from leaves or buds of the Camellia Sinensis plant. It is one of the least processed types of tea and because of this, it generally has a softer and sweeter flavor than its green or black cousins.
As with other true teas, white tea does contain caffeine and if you are sensitive to this stimulant you may want to try a decaffeinated option. However, it is also important to remember that any type of tea (even herbal and rooibos) contains antioxidants which are good for the body. It is thought that these antioxidants fight free radicals which are unstable molecules that cause many chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Because white tea is so minimally processed, very little oxidation takes place during its production process. This is because the buds and leaves are harvested before they have fully opened, meaning that the leaves or buds are still covered in tiny white hairs. Depending on the tea, some leaves are steamed or lightly fired after they have been plucked to prevent too much oxidation from occurring during the processing of the tea.
Despite the fact that there is very little international agreement on what defines a white tea, most sources tend to agree that it is made from unopened buds or immature leaves of the Camellia Sinensis. It is a bud-only tea which means that the leaves used are very young and do not have any of the robust qualities of green or black tea.