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What kind of tea varieties exist?

14 October 2017

Did you think the only tea variaties out there were green tea and black tea? Think again! In general, there are six different kinds of tea. In those six teas, herbal teas are not included. Officially they are not considered as tea, because these infusions do not contain tea leaves, only herbs and spices.

5 Kinds of tea

White tea
This is the lightest variety in tea. White tea leaves are only dried, not burnt, fermented or oxidated. That means the leaves are used in their purest form, which gives a very light and delicate tea. Only the tea buds are used for white tea, and they’re usually hand picked. This makes white tea a very rare and special tea.
-> Ideal water temperature: 85* Celsius
-> Caffeine per cup: about 15 mg
-> Brew time: 3 minutes

Green tea
Just like white tea, green exists of tea leaves that are not fermented. However, the tea leaves do get a bit of heat to get them to oxidate and color slightly. This oxidation process is relatively short for green teas. For some green teas, like gunpowder tea, the green tea leaves are then rolled into little balls. Usually, they are simply dried. Similar to white tea, green tea has a light and subtle flavor. Because the tea leaves are relatively unharmed, they still contain a lot of their anti-oxidants, but less caffeine (theine) than for example black tea.
-> Ideal water temperature: 80* Celsius
-> Caffeine per cup: about 20 mg
-> Brew time: 3 minutes

Black tea
Black tea is fully oxidized, which means that the tea leaves have a dark color and release a lot of tannines. This gives the tea a dark color and a strong taste. Consider it a ‘power’ in the tea, that makes the flavor more intense than white and green tea. Black tea also contains more caffeine (theine) than green tea.
-> Ideal water temperature: 100* Celsius
-> Caffeine per cup: about 40 mg
-> Brew time: 2 minutes

Oolong tea
Because Oolong tea consists of partly oxidized tea leaves, this tea variation lies somewhere in between green and black tea. in China, oolong tea is also called ‘blue’ tea. Oolong can exist in different grades: the higher the percentage of oxidated tea, the darker the oolong. Heavily oxidized oolongs are spicy and heavy, lightly oxidized oolong are lighter and floral.
-> Ideal water temperature: 90* Celsius
-> Caffeine per cup: about 30 mg
-> Brew time: 3 minutes

Pu Ehr tea
An extra tea variation is Pu Ehr thee (in China known as ‘red’ tea), that ‘ripes’ for a while after the complete production process. This ripe process takes place in a moist environment and can last for a few months up to a few years. This makes Pu Ehr a post-fermented tea, also called ‘vintage’ tea. The tea has a deep and dark aroma, and is especially known for its medicinal characteristics (helps to burn fat, cholesterol, etc).
-> Ideal water temperature: 90* Celsius
-> Caffeine per cup: about 40 mg
-> Brew time: 2 minutes

Rooibos (& herbal tea)
As tasty as it is, rooibos is officially not a tea. A drink can only be called tea if it is made with leaves of the tea plant. Rooibos is made with needles of the rooibos plant, that get their red color when they are dried.
Herbal tea is made of dried herbs, but does not contain tea leaves either. This is the reason herbal tea usually has a light color and contains little to no theine.
-> Ideal water temperature: 100* Celsius
-> Caffeine per cup: none
-> Brew time: 4 minutes