Types of Tea

How many different types of tea are there? It’s a great question and not one that can be answered with any degree of accuracy. The number of plants from which tea is derived is easier to count. It’s one – Camellia sinensis (though there are several varieties).From this humble plant we get five main types of tea – black, green, oolong, white, puerh. The difference between types of tea primarily derives from how the leaves are processed.

  • Black Tea – Black tea (which the Chinese refer to as red tea) undergoes the most oxidization, which allows leaves to take on oxygen and makes for a more robust flavor. The bulk of the world’s black tea is produced in India, Africa and Ceylon.

Black Tea

  • Green Tea – Green tea leaves, however, are not oxidized. The leaves are simply withered and dried, which imparts a flavor often described as vegetal or grassy and which is thought to retain more health-giving properties. The world’s most notable green teas are produced in China and Japan.

Dragon Pearls

  • Oolong Tea – Oolong tea is grown mostly in Taiwan and China. Oolong tea typically falls somewhere between black and green when it comes to processing. Some oolong teas are lightly processed and have a taste that’s closer to green, though often with floral notes. Others are much closer to black tea, with smoky or earthy notes.

Oolong Tea

  • White Tea – The best, rarest, and most expensive white teas are produced in China, most notably in Fujian province. Quality white tea is made from only the finest leaves of the tea plant. Leaves are subjected to even less processing than green tea, resulting in a very delicate flavor.

White Tea

  • Puerh – Puerh (a word with a bewildering variety of alternate spellings) is beloved by tea connoisseurs and collectors and has become more popular in recent years outside of China, where it originates in Yunnan province. With a strong, earthy flavor, it can be an acquired taste for some tea drinkers. The complexities of puerh don’t lend themselves to summarization, so for more information, start here:  http://www.pu-erh.net/


17 thoughts on “Types of Tea

  1. Pingback: The Best of the English Tea Store Tea Blog in 2013 | Tea Blog

  2. Linky635

    what kind of tea is served in most chinese restaurants? I have tried 2 different oolongs and both taste like reg lipton black tea! help.

    1. A.C. Cargill

      There is no one tea served most often, but you may be thinking of a special blend called Dynasty Blend that is oolong, jasmine, and green teas. If you tried an oolong and found that it tastes like regular black tea, it was not the best oolong. There are hundreds, each varying in flavor and quality.

    1. A.C. Cargill

      Lots of options here. You could go for a sampler, which has small amounts of several teas. That way, you can try them and find out which ones you like. Or you can start with basics such as a breakfast tea blend, a green tea blend, a Darjeeling tea blend, or a black Ceylon. I strongly recommend The English Tea Store as a place to start, since they have all of these, but you can also find things like this locally. Flavored teas are not good to start with, since you often can’t taste the tea. You might try some here and there as you learn more about tea. Hope this helps!

  3. New to the world of variety of tea. Visited store recently and they were serving a blend his mother send him. It was wonderful. Now, this web site is found due to the interedt and I mus say it is wonderful and informative. Keep it up. Marilyn from Texas

  4. Sue

    I used to enjoy McGRath’s Irish Breakfast teabags – can you tell me what currently available tea would most closely resemble that?

  5. Hattie Thompson

    Twinings of London sold an Herb Tea Caffeine Free titled SUNSET ROSE a couple years ago. I absolutely loved this tea and saved the box so that I could buy more. However, no matter where I look, no store seems to sell Twinings Sunset Rose Herb Tea. Do you still produce this tea? How may I get some of it?

    Hattie Thompson

    1. Tim

      Hi, Hattie,
      I don’t know whether or not Twinings of London continues to make that particular tea, but in any case ETS does not carry it. I’m very sorry, Hattie! If there’s anything else I can help you with, please let me know.

      Hattie is a wonderful name, by the way!

      Take care,


  6. I grew up with the wonderful smell of sassafras aroma in my grandma’s home it is still one of my very favorite teas. My aunt would dig and bring to our house a root and grandmother would clean it up and put it in a big ole pot, that smelled so so good.Today I have found it in one market only bottled.
    I also find liptons decafe very pleasant tasting, most any tea with orange peko is not as bitter as the black.
    I am happy to have come accross your site. I love the store things, like the tea pots.

  7. mary mosley

    I am doing a program at our Athena Club in Januart. I am giving a program on Tisanes teas. I will order on of you pots and assorts of teas. Any ideas.
    Mary Mosely

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