Have you ever wondered what oolong tea is? Or pu'erh? There are several different types of tea and it can get a bit confusing.
All tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant. The buds and leaves are meticulously transformed into one of five types of tea:
You’ll notice that herbal tea did not make that list. That is because it is technically not tea (but we’ll discuss that more in a bit).
Black tea is the most common tea in North America. It is produced when withered tea leaves are rolled and allowed to oxidize and dry. This process develops natural flavor, color, and body in the leaf. Black tea contains about half the caffeine of coffee.
Green tea leaves are heated or steamed right after harvest, which preserves all of the natural flavor. This super tea is packed with antioxidants. It helps to calm anxiety by increasing the level of dopamine in the brain. It has about half the caffeine of black tea.
Pu'erh tea leaves are processed like green tea, then heaped into piles or formed into bricks. Moisture is then introduced to encourage natural bacterial fermentation. Traditional societies know this as a weight loss tea, which is currently helping it gain popularity in the west.
Oolong tea is produced when tea leaves are oxidized in direst sunlight until they give off a precise and pleasant fragrance reminiscent of apples, orchids, and peaches. Also considered a weight loss tea, oolong has many health benefits. It has a caffeine content midway between black tea and green tea.
White tea is the rarest variety of tea. This low-caffeine delicacy is the most minimally -processed of all tea varietals. The buds are neither rolled nor oxidized and must be carefully monitored as they are dried. This precise technique produces a cup with subtle sweet notes.
Herbal tea is made by infusing herbs, spices, or other plant material in hot water. It does not contain any form of Camellia sinensis. It therefore cannot rightfully be categorized as "tea." Nonetheless, herbal teas offer significant health benefits and are a wonderful caffeine free alternative to tea.
Hope that helped you understand the differences between the types of tea!