Up For A Spot Of Tea: The Origins, Flavors And Health Benefits Of The 4 Tea Types

How many times do you just feel like sitting down and wanting to sip a cup of tea in the morning, the afternoon or right after a heavy meal? But once you open your cupboard, you are suddenly bombarded with all the different variety of teas, and it’s different flavor offerings. Here is a rundown of the most popular types of teas available for consumption. Talk about steep.

There are actually four primary different types of tea available:

1) Black tea
2) Green tea
3) Oolong tea
4) White tea

What all these different types of teas have in common is they are made from the Camellia sinensis leaf, which is also known simply as the tea plant. There are other herbal infusions and variations such as: ginger tea, chamomile tea or red tea made of the rooibos leaves, but they can’t really be considered as a type of tea since the actual tea plant is not involved when making the tea. The actual differences between the four tea variations is a result in the actual process of making the tea itself. Also, each tea group has its unique flavor as well as offering various health benefits.

1) Black Tea
This strong flavored, Sienna colored hot steeped beverage is the most popular and the most well known tea in the Western world. This tea, either served with milk and sugar or with a squeeze of lemon, is also used in daily tea ceremonies that take place around the world. The black tea extract is a result of heavily oxidized Camellia sinensis leaves. When served in its plain form, this tea contains no carbohydrates, calories or fats. Black tea usually contains more caffeine than the other types of tea, but a lot less than a cup of coffee.

2) Green Tea
This lightly oxidized tea has been a popular beverage in Japan, China and Korea for hundreds of years. Recently, its beneficial health properties increased its popularity in North America as well. It’s now been proven that when drinking green tea, it can lower your cholesterol as well as prevent cancer, increase your metabolic rate and help in a variety of other conditions and illnesses including losing weight. The green tea is dried, lightly oxidized but not fermented. It’s usually served just plain and hot, without sugar or milk. As some green tea variants may taste a bit bitter, it should be served and brewed at a lower temperature than the boiling point.

3) Oolong Tea
The oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea, and the type that is served as a companion at your favorite Chinese restaurant. It is accompanied with food such as: fried rice, dim sum and stir fry in American Chinese diners. The oolong tea or better known as the black dragon tea in Chinese, got its name because of its long, darkly distinguished leaves that look similar to wild black dragons when brewed. The ultimate and unique taste of the oolong tea is after a long process which includes natural sun drying of the Camellia sinensis leaves, light oxidization, then the cooling and drying process. The result is a lighter flavor than the more popular black tea, but stronger than the delicate tasting green tea.

4) White Tea
White tea is quite rare and thus a lot more expensive than the other types of teas available. This tea originated in the Fujian Province of China. The tea is made from young Camellia sinensis leaves, which go through a lengthy process of steaming, inactivate fermenting and then drying. Since these leaves are harvested while the plants buds are still covered by its natural white hair, it is because of that, the tea is named white tea. The white tea’s taste is delicate, and naturally sweeter than the other types of tea. Also, this tea contains just a small amount of caffeine, but the largest amount of antioxidant that prevents cancer and other illnesses.

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