Tea is a beloved drink all throughout the world. Whether you are new to drinking tea, are looking for a new favorite, or just want to learn more, we’ll cover some of the best healthy types of tea to drink below.
What to Know About the Different Types of Tea
Although there are many different forms of tea drinks, all tea actually comes from the leaves of one plant: the Camellia sinensis. It’s how the leaves are changed or processed that produce different types of tea.
There are four key steps in the production of tea that determine what type of tea you’ll get:
- Withering: After being plucked, the leaves are spread onto screens or trays to lose their moisture.
- Rolling/breaking: The leaves are twisted to release their juices, then broken into smaller pieces.
- Oxidizing: The tea leaves are spread out to sit long enough to release a lot of their remaining moisture and absorb O2 from the air. This process is what separates black tea from other types of tea.
- Firing: Heat is applied, through blowing hot air or going through heat tunnels, to the leaves to stop their oxidizing. Firing also kills enzymes that can cause the leaves to break down or get moldy.
Now that you understand the process, let’s talk about the different types of teas that you can enjoy—and how they are beneficial to you!
1. Black Tea
Black teas typically go through full oxidation, leading to black or dark brown leaves and a stronger flavor and aroma than other teas. Black teas also have the highest caffeine content compared to the other varieties we’ll cover here. However, black tea still has significantly less caffeine than brewed coffee.
There is some evidence that black tea can help promote healthy blood pressure and cholesterol. Plus, it’s a fair option for those who love coffee but want to slightly cut down on their caffeine intake.
Common types of black tea include:
2. Oolong Tea
Oolong teas go through partial oxidation. They provide a little less caffeine than black teas but more than green teas (which we’ll cover next). Oolongs are also somewhere in the middle of black and green teas when it comes to flavor. They are fragrant (often compared to the aroma of flowers) and not as robust as black teas, but more so than greens.
Oolong tea has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine. Its benefits have not been researched as much as other types of teas. However, the links between drinking tea and increased insulin sensitivity, better blood sugar control, and less risk of developing type 2 diabetes may be significant for oolong teas as well. One study out of Japan found diabetic patients who drank oolong tea had lower plasma glucose concentrations than the control group who drank water.
Common types of oolong tea include:
- Wuyi Oolong
- Iron Goddess of Mercy
- Milk Oolong
- High Mountain Oolong
3. Green Tea
Green tea has become incredibly popular in America in recent years, and for good reason. The health benefits of green tea include a high volume of antioxidants, blood pressure support, the amino acid theanine (which may have a calming effect), and catechin compounds that have shown potential brain-protective effects in animal studies and test tubes.
For the reasons above, green tea is probably the best tea to drink daily to support your health. It also has a characteristic green color and unique flavor. When brewed correctly, it should never be bitter but rather provide grassy, herbaceous, or even nutty tastes.
Common types of green tea include:
4. Yellow Tea
Yellow teas undergo more oxidation than green teas, although they have a similar flavor minus any grassiness. Yellow teas are actually often classified as a subsection of green teas. They are also cultivated almost exclusively in China.
Yellow tea contains a large portion of tea leaf buds, which gives it a higher caffeine content. As far as the taste experience goes, yellow teas are delicate in aroma and flavor.
Yellow tea has three types based on where they are geographically grown:
- Jun Shan Yin Zhen
- Mo Gan Huang Ya
- Meng Ding Huang Ya
5. White Tea
Unlike the teas we’ve discussed so far, white teas don’t go through any oxidation. They are hand-processed and loved for their subtle, sweet flavors and complex aromas. White teas, on average, do not have high caffeine amounts. Sometimes, special ingredients are added to the leaves or buds to create different flavor options.
The four main types of white tea include:
6. Pu'erh Tea
Pu-erh tea is a fermented tea made from aged leaves to create mature and smooth flavors. It has been utilized to support issues like joint pain, mental fatigue, digestive concerns, and more. It’s sometimes sold as a weight loss tea.
Well-produced pu-erh tea has a clean and assertive taste, while poor processing or aging can create sour or fishy tastes. Trusted brands will ensure that you’re getting a good product, and many will combine pu-erh with different flavors, such as cocoa or orange peel.
The four main types of pu-erh tea are categorized by their production process:
- Aged raw
7. Herbal Tea
Herbal tea is actually not a true tea, but it is beloved by many. Herbal teas contain no plant leaves and are made from herbs, spices, and other plant compounds. There is absolutely no caffeine in herbal teas.
Although herbal teas are not true teas, they may provide benefits for everything from digestion to menstrual cramps and sleep issues.
Common types of herbal tea include:
If you are new to tea drinking, start with one type and try different varieties until you find your favorite. Having some tea in the evening before bed is a popular practice for many people, and it can be a welcome addition to your health routine. To shop the different teas mentioned above (and more), check out our Tea section here at Nature’s Ideal!