Tea leaves come in a variety of different flavours, all of which originate from the Camellia Sinensis plant.
Today, there are hundreds of different types of tea, all of which offer unique characteristics, taste and aromas.
Just like coffee and wine, tea is harvested at different times of the year, in different locations and climates – this is the reason for the many different flavours, aromas and tastes.
The most common types of tea comprise of white, green, oolong, black, herbal and rooibos, as we’ve detailed here.
White tea is said to be the least oxidised and processed of all teas. It’s only picked at certain times of the year and originates from China.
Those who harvest this type of tea only pick it when a white down, called a bai hao, appears on the shoot of the plant.
The entire process is extremely delicate – one of the reasons for this tea’s delicate flavour and fragrance.
It boasts a variety of aromas, including asparagus, almonds, bamboo and rose.
Green tea boasts a beautiful pale to dark green colour, with the vivid shade down to a lack of oxidation and due to the fact the leaves are heat processed.
In China and Japan, roaring, steaming or pan-firing the leaves traditionally completes this process.
Chinese green teas tend to offer bolder flavours complete with citrus elements. Japanese green teas on the other hand offer more delicate tasting notes.
Oolong teas, native to Taiwan and China, are semi-oxidised and are created using larger, more mature leaves.
Once picked, these leaves are withered, then rolled, oxidised, and then fired.
This unique process gives oolong teas their many fragrances and flavours. These flavours can be intensified by the steep times.
This particular type of tea is of one of the most celebrated varieties of tea the West has to offer. It’s traditionally known as “red tea” in China.
The leaves, which often come in the shape of younger leaves, are fully oxidised. They also tend to be separated into broken leaf and full leaf categories. Broken leaf is when the leaves are broken into small pieces during processing.
This process makes the flavours more brisk and higher in caffeine. Full leaf teas on the other hand tend to be a little gentler on the palette with more refined flavours.
This particular blend of tea is naturally caffeine-free. It is a herbal tea native to South Africa, and boasts a beautiful sweet flavour.
Known as red bush tea, it boasts bitter tannins, which makes it a great option for the entire family. It’s created using needle-like leaves, which are harvested during the summer months.
The leaves begin a shade of green before the oxidation process enhances both the flavour and the colour, transforming the leaves into a pretty shade of red.
These particular tea leaves don’t come from the Camellia Sinensis plant, but are instead created using a variety of herbs, including roots, mint, botanicals and flowers.
These floral and plant infusions boast a range of moreish aromas and tastes.
Some of the more popular herbal teas in existence today include Alfalfa, Angelica Root, Star Anise, Black Cohosh, Boneset, Burdock, Caraway Seeds, Calendula, Chickweed, Chamomile, Chickweed, Cinnamon, Elderberry and Fennel, although there are plenty more!
All of these herbs claim a different benefit. If you’re looking for something to brighten the eyes, the skin or the mind, there’s guaranteed to be a tea to suit all!
Benefits of tea
Asides from being enjoyed as a warming (or sometimes ice cold) beverage, tea has many health benefits.
These benefits include providing the body with an abundance of antioxidants, which are said to keep us young, while protecting the immune system. Some studies even suggest certain teas reduce the risk of ailments such as heart attacks and strokes.
The likes of green and white teas are associated with weight loss and also, they’re said to be able to prevent bone loss, including tooth loss.
Japanese researchers have discovered drinking herbal teas can change the pH in your mouth, which helps to inhibit cavities, without eroding the teeth.
One of the biggest health benefits that different types of tea have is the fact it may help to battle cancer.
More research is still being conducted in this area, but studies that have been completed so far are extremely positive.
Just another reason to increase our tea consumption!