"While I'm very obstinate about drinking coffee rather than tea, I've discovered that I actually love English Breakfast and Earl Grey!" she says. There's a whole universe of tea out there outside those two mixes! In fact, here's something you might not have known: Every authentic tea originates from the same plant, much like all champagne comes from the same place. Though there is now a world of non-tea teas available, "genuine" teas are all made from the leaves of an evergreen plant called Camellia sinensis, which is native to areas of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.
These real teas evolve into black, green, oolong, white, fermented, and even purple teas, with distinct tastes determined by growth circumstances and harvesting procedures. (As a consequence, some of our favourite beverages are sun tea, sweet tea, and chai tea!) Herbal teas and speciality teas, such as barley or yellow tea, are derived from a variety of various plants, flowers, grains, and maybe others.
A tea subscription package contains a variety of teas for sampling (which happens to make a great gift for tea lovers, by the way). If anything can be steeped in hot water and produce a tasty infusion, you've got yourself a tea! Try these primary sorts of tea and you're bound to find your new favourite combination!
If you like iced tea, you're no stranger to the enormous universe of black teas. Many famous teas, such as Earl Grey or English Breakfast, are prepared from a combination of black teas, which are essentially fully oxidised and dried tea leaves. They are dark in appearance and have a strong taste. Unblended black teas are called for the place where they are cultivated; for example, Darjeeling is grown in the same-named Indian West Bengal district, while Ceylon is grown in the same-named Sri Lankan province. Black teas were popular on past trade routes because they are strong, resilient teas that retain flavour and freshness for far longer than more delicate teas.
Green tea is on the other end of the spectrum from black tea. Unlike black tea, which is allowed to fully oxidise, the purpose of collecting and processing green tea is to halt the oxidation process in order to retain the leaf's green colour and fresh, vegetal flavour. Green tea has a lighter tint than black tea, frequently a pale green or golden tone, and is more delicate on the taste. Matcha tea is comprised of finely crushed green tea leaves that are whisked into hot water rather than steeped and has surged in popularity, with worldwide sales exceeding $2 billion in 2020! Another popular form of green tea is jasmine tea, which is created from a combination of green and white tea.
Oolong tea, maybe the most flavorful of the "real" teas, falls somewhere in the middle of the aforementioned spectrum, between green and black teas. Semi-oxidized tea leaves are left to rest for a period of time before being cooked to stop oxidation. A cup of steeped Oolong tea is light brown in colour and has a diverse flavour profile that varies on factors such as whether the tea leaves have been strongly roasted or barely oxidised.
White tea is the most delicate of the "genuine" teas, minimally oxidised and regarded the least processed of all teas—only young leaves or the most fragile tips of leaves are used, wilted and naturally dried to maintain their natural, delicate flavour.
While certain teas are best consumed fresh, such as green tea, others, such as classic black, white, and oolong teas, can be stored for months, years, or even decades to enable them to ferment. These fermented teas' maturing process allows new levels of taste to develop. Pu-erh tea is one of the most well-known fermented teas, manufactured from tea leaves harvested from wild tea bushes in China's Yunnan province rather than cultivated shrubs. The flavour of the tea leaves changes from early green notes to a coveted, rich earthiness as they mature and ferment.
The five varieties of tea listed above encompass the majority of the "legitimate" teas available, however there are certain teas that do not fit well into any of these categories. Yellow tea is grown in both China and Korea, with the Chinese type treated similarly to green tea and the Korean variety more oxidised or processed to resemble black tea. Purple tea is the newest beverage to reach the market! Purple tea got its name from the colour of its leaves, which translates into high quantities of anthocyanins, which give foods like blueberries and purple grapes their trademark hue. It was discovered in the wilds of India's Assam area. What connects the variety of these speciality teas available with the five basic categories is that they all derive from the tea tree mother plant, Camillia sinensis.
Herbal teas, which most tea consumers are familiar with, are essentially infusions produced from herbs, flowers, fruit, roots, barks, seeds, and so on. They're just not brewed from genuine tea leaves, and hence have their own official name: tisane, which is effectively a herbal infusion that isn't tea.
Grain teas, which are popular in East Asian cultures, are brewed from roasted grains and make rich, delicious teas that may be sipped hot or cold. Barley tea is probably the most well-known grain tea, although other grains used for tea include buckwheat, maize, and brown rice.