If you are a tea lover, you agree that a cup of well-blended tea is a great way to welcome a new day. But have you realized that tea comes in a wide variety of flavors? The taste difference is attributed to the involved processes and ingredients.
Although the name ‘tea’ creates an impression that a so-called beverage is from a tea plant (Camellia sinensis), not every tea is derived from the plant.
Some beautiful brews like honeybush red/green rooibos referred to as tea are exotically spiced herbal beverages without even a trace of Camellia sinensis.
In this article, we are going to exclusively focus on the true teas- those made from the tea plant. They include black tea, oolong tea green tea, matcha tea, yellow tea, twig tea, Pu-erh tea and white tea. Without much ado, let’s see what each of them has to offer.
1. Black tea
Black tea is very popular and is the best with water at 80 degrees Celsius temperature when consumed without milk and a temperature of between 90 to 95 degrees Celsius 95°C, with milk.
It brings out the deepest Camellia sinensis flavors because it is made from fully oxidized leaves of the plant. When fully oxidized, the leaves of Camellia sinensis plant turn black, and that gives you an idea of where a black tea brew gets its black color from.
There are various grades of black tea, depending on the taste and components in each. A cup of a top-notch black tea has a caffeine amount of approximately 40 milligrams while its taste could be chocolaty, floral or caramel-like.
This type of black tea is the most expensive of all other black teas. The cheapest is bitter because of high caffeine amount of about 50 milligrams per cup and is one-dimensional.
Back tea goes very well as an accompaniment to a sweet dish. It also tastes great when added to spiced chai.
2. Oolong tea
Unlike black tea which is made from fully oxidized tea plant leaves, oolong tea is a product of the partially oxidized leaves.
The Camellia sinensis used to make the tea are first left to wither under the sun until they produce a fruity scent. Then, they are rolled and fired. Because of the partial oxidation, oolong tea has a lower caffeine amount (approximately 30 milligrams) per cup as compared to black tea.
This type of tea also comes in different types depending on the level of oxidation of the tea leaves used. The lighter oolong teas are green and have a fruity taste, while the dark ones have roasty and nutty notes.
If you want a tea that you can enjoy with a wide variety of foods, ranging from cheesecake to steak, you are not likely to go wrong with oolong tea.
3. Green tea
Green tea is also made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis plant. However, unlike black or oolong tea, which involves a certain level of tea leaves oxidation, the tea leaves used in green tea are not oxidized at all.
Instead, they are heated or steamed at extremely high temperatures immediately after being harvested. As such, they maintain their normal green color and that’s why the resulting tea is green, thus the name ‘green tea’.
Pure green tea can have a very strong grassy flavor, which some people don’t like. As such, it is mostly blended with flower petal flavor, peppermint flavor, or dried fruit flavor, among other flavors to improve the taste of the resulting beverage.
However, if you go for the cheapest green tea, you’ll most likely find it somehow unpleasantly bitter and with a seaweed taste. If you want some tea to take along a savory dish, green tea got you covered.
It’s also among the most preferred tea type for tea-lovers who don’t like much caffeine since has low caffeine content of around 25 milligrams per cup.
4. Matcha tea
Matcha is a non-oxidized tea, high-grade green tea made from whole but dried shade-grown green tea leaves that are ground into powder form. The tea leaves retain the green color because they’ve not been oxidized. You don’t steep green tea; instead, whisk it into hot water to get the best out of it- a frothy and great-tasting drink.
Matcha tea is available in two grades, namely, ceremonial and culinary. Between the two, ceremonial is of higher quality and is normally enjoyed as a stand-alone, without any additive or sweetener.
On the other hand, although the culinary grade is perceived as of low quality, with a duller green color, its flavor is more robust and astringent. As such, it can be paired with an additive or sweetener.
5. Yellow tea
The processing of yellow tea is similar to that of green tea, only that the leaves of yellow tea are supposed to dry slower. Due to prolonged drying, the damp leaves turn from green to yellow.
Eventually, the dry yellow leaves are brewed to produce liquor-like-color tea with moderate. Sweet, bright and floral taste. The aroma of this tea is gently fruity and floral.
6. Kukicha or twig tea
Kukicha, which is also called bocha, is most popular in Japan. It is made from the tea plant parts are not used in the majority of the rest of the teas. The tea plant parts (mostly stems, stalks and twigs) are dried and sometimes oxidized to produce a low-caffeine and sweet beverage with a well-rounded flavor.
7. Pu-erh tea
Pu-erh tea is made from fermented Camellia sinensis plant leaves and stems. Initially, the leaves and stems are prepared similarly to green tea and then fermented and stored for a long time in a humid place to ‘age’.
A pu-erh tea brew can be a great accompaniment when you are eating fatty food. It has an earthy flavor and has some medicinal property. Its proponents claim that it can improve mental alertness, enable sharp thinking and reduce cholesterol level in a person.
8. White tea
As its name suggests, a brew of white tea is light in color. It is very light, delicate and has the highest antioxidant level. When it comes to taste, the best white tea is sweet and grassy and doesn’t have any bitter note. It is best when it is taken alone.
Well, those are true tea types that you should consider trying. Don’t restrict yourself on one type; explore further to realize the great experiences you’ve been missing out on.