What warms you up on a chilly day? What wakes you up in the morning? What helps you relax after a long day? What soothes your stomach during a tummy ache? Tea, tea, tea and tea! It definitely gives you a dose of relaxation in every cup.
Legend has it that the Chinese emperor and herbalist, Shennong, discovered tea by accident in 2737 BC. He liked to drink his water boiled, and one day the dried leaves of a nearby plant fell into his cup. However, the drink was still considered purely medicinal until around 300 BC. It wasn’t until many years later that tea became a booming business around the world.
Have you ever wondered why there is a variety of tea when in fact tea came from the same plant? The answer is simple: the way it was planted, grown, and brewed contributes to a good tasting tea.
Here are different types of Teas in the world!
Green Tea lovers raise your hands!
The origination of green tea began in China tracing all the way back to 2737 B.C. The discovery occurred by accident when the Chinese Emperor Shennong mistakenly drank water that had a dead tea leaf boiled in it. Emperor Shennong found the flavor incredibly refreshing and thus, a new beverage was created.
It is a “true” tea, meaning it comes from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. Along with the many different strains of the tea plant, varieties of green tea differ on the basis of growing conditions, cultivation methods, time of harvest, and processing.
The primary tasting notes of tea are savory, spicy, fruity, floral, and vegetal. Specific strains of tea can range from sweet, floral, and fruity, to vegetal and smoky, earthy or nutty. It manages to retain maximum antioxidants and polyphenols that are responsible for boosting immunity and protecting us against cough and flu. Green tea has also been linked to promoting healthy heart by checking the LDL or bad cholesterol levels. Its consumption is also known to facilitate healthy hair and clear skin.
Here are different types of Green Tea:
Matcha: Literally translated to “powdered tea,” this is a specially grown and processed type of green tea that is finely ground into a powder.
Sencha: Super popular in Japan, the leaves are steamed before drying to give it its signature grassy flavor. The tea is prepared by infusing processed whole green tea leaves in hot water.
Bancha: Though it’s processed the same way as sencha, it is harvested later in the season, delivering its sweet yet earthy taste.
Chun mee: Veering on the sour side, it has a strong aftertaste.
Hojicha: This is as close to coffee as tea gets. Its hue is more red and brown than green, and it has a nutty flavor with hints of caramel. It is said that the tea was born from humble beginnings; tea merchants in Kyoto were looking for a way to make use of old green tea leaves and one thought to roast them over charcoal, which resulted in a toasty, mellow tea that pairs exceptionally with both savory and sweet dishes.
Jasmine: As one of the most famous scented green teas in China, Jasmine green tea is a true tea, but unlike sencha and matcha, it’s a type of flavored green tea. It is prepared by infusing processed whole green tea leaves in hot water and flavored with jasmine petals for the tea’s slightly sweet taste.
Longjing: Also known as Dragon Well tea, it is the most famous, highest-quality hand-produced green tea from China. This tea has a mellow, sweet, nutty flavor that contrasts pleasantly with its vegetal undertones and full body. You may notice hints of chestnut and sweet pea as you sip Longjing.
Green tea is a beverage like no other. Whether you prefer light and sweet (like sencha), full-bodied and vegetal (like matcha) or bold and smoky (like gunpowder tea), the perfect tea for you awaits your discovery.
For many years it was believed that white tea was discovered during the Song Dynasty (920-1269), however, even earlier references to white tea have been traced as far back as the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Only royals were allowed to consume white tea and it is rumored that it could only be served as a “tribute” to the emperor by virgins with white gloves as a symbol of honor and respect. It wasn’t until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), that the Ming court ruled that only loose leaf white tea could be served as a tribute to the emperor, thus changing our understanding of white tea processing and its preparation forever. And by the late 1800s, during the reign of Emperor Guangxu, the tea gained popularity and was being exported to tea loving western nations.
White tea invites your taste buds to go beyond bold and potent flavors to discover the joy of subtlety. It is is a sweet, gentle brew that delights the senses. Here are different types of White Tea:
Silver Needle: The finest white tea, made only of silvery white buds. Beautiful to behold and delightful to drink. It is the most famous white tea, with a delicate, light, and slightly sweet flavor.
White Peony: Next highest in quality, White Peony consists of buds and leaves covered in silvery white hair. It is more pale green in color and produces a slightly nutty aroma and aftertaste.
Tribute Eyebrow: This tea is classified as the third highest grade of white tea. Also known as Gong Mei, it is harvested later than Silver Needle teas and boasts a bolder flavor. This white tea has a strong, fruity flavor that is similar to oolong tea.
Long Life Eyebrow: This white tea is made using the lower quality leaves left over after the Silver Needle and White Peony harvests. The result is a stronger white tea that is also darker in color. This white tea is typically golden yellow in color and is classified as the fourth grade of white teas.
Fujian New Craft: It is one of the newest members of the white tea family, with harvesting only occurring as soon as the late 1960’s. The flavor and liquor are probably the most robust of all the aforementioned white teas, yet the fragrance is extremely mild.
Legend has it that black tea was actually created out of accident when some tea became oxidized as it was left unattended a little too long. The result was an astonishing deep coloured drink, very strong indeed and higher in caffeine content.
Most popular tea in the Western world, Black Tea also comes from the same tea plant, Camellia Sinensis. But, it looks and tastes different due to the process of fermentation. The fermentation or oxidation process creates a strong beverage, with more flavour and deeper colour.
It is deep brown or black when brewed and has strong earthy flavors. It is often malty and has hints of chocolate and vanilla.
Here are different types of Black Tea:
Assam Tea: Assam Tea is one of the most loved black teas in the west, usually the base for English and Irish Breakfast Tea and well known for its malty characteristic. A bit of sugar and a splash of milk are commonly added to Assamese teas.
Darjeeling Tea: It comes from West of Bengal and is a combination of fruity and floral. It tastes delicate, fruity, floral, and light, and are best served without any milk or sugar added.
Ceylon Tea: A beautiful afternoon blend, comes from Sri Lanka. It is a medium to strong black tea that manages to maintain a light and refreshing taste. It is generally bold, strong and rich, sometimes with notes of chocolate or spice.
Earl Grey: It is the West’s most famous flavored tea. The tea base can be made with most black tea leaves and is traditionally a blend of Indian tea and Ceylon. Added to this is bergamot – a citrus fruit like a blend of orange, lemon, and grapefruit.
Nilgiri Tea: It is a fragrant, floral tea from the mountains of South India. It is exceptional when served iced with a little sugar or honey and a wedge of lemon.
Lapsang Souchong: It is a smoked black tea that varies in flavor from delicately smoky to a taste akin to that of an ashtray. It appeals people who prefer strong flavours
Keemun Tea: Keemun is considered a delicacy in China, and in addition to its pleasant taste and aroma, it has an attractive reddish hue. The tea is light and mild, but at the same time very flavorful, and it has a sweet, flowery aroma and fragrance.
Dianhong cha: Directly translates to “Yunnan red tea”, this form of black tea simply goes by the name “Yunnan” in the West. It is very flavorful and aromatic, and it has a smooth and slightly sweet taste.
Whether it is flowery fragrant Darjeeling, spicy Assam or tangy-citrus-fruity Ceylon, black tea enchants us with its aromatic diversity cup by cup.
Confused between black and green tea? Maybe the answer is oolong!
A partially fermented tea boasting the best of its black and green cousins, oolong is often referred as the “desert island” tea. It is made from the same plant as black and green tea – Camellia sinensis. It lies in between black and green tea in terms of its depth of flavor, thanks to differences in how these teas are processed and where they’re grown.
Popular folklore, however, attributes the oolong tea origin and history of oolong tea to a humble tea grower from the China’s Qing dynasty. Legends proclaim that one late evening, after a day of plucking, the tea grower, on his way back, was distracted by a deer. He forgot to process the leaves that day, as a result of which, they began to wilt and naturally oxidize. Instead of letting these leaves go to waste, he decided to process them anyway, but given they had already started turning brown, subjected them to only a bit more of oxidation. The resultant tea was similar to a black tea but without the bitterness, and lacked tannic strength. It was smoother, sweeter and fragrant. He named this tea after himself, the Wu Long.
Here are different types of Oolong Tea:
Phoenix Tea: This tea is named for its origin – the Phoenix mountains of Guangdong province of China. It has a rich, full-bodied feel. Some Phoenix oolongs offer a floral flavour that is similar to orange blossoms or orchids. Other Phoenix oolongs are fruity or spicy with flavors similar to ginger and grapefruit.
Iron Goddess of Mercy: This oolong tea is light and airy and features hints of flowers and honey. The taste is floral, with hints of orchid, but it can also be dark and nutty if it’s undergone a longer roast.
Wuyi Oolong Te: Grown in the Wuyi mountains, this Chinese tea is also known as “rock tea” thanks to the mineral-rich sediment it’s rooted in. With a lighter roast, Wuyi teas are floral in taste and aroma, but the minerality and earthiness come out with a darker roast.
High Mountain Oolong Tea: High Mountain oolong teas consist of a variety of different oolongs grown at the highest elevations in Taiwan. It more lightly oxidized and roasted, making it closer to a green tea than a black tea. Its skews more floral and don’t typically have the dark and roasty notes that some oolongs carry.
Milk Oolong Tea: This tea is also commonly known as Golden Daylily tea or Nai Xiang tea and is named for its creamy flavor that is light and flowery.
The history of herbs and spices is far more ancient than that of tea. Herbal Infusions are not tea, per se, as they do not come from the Camellia sinensis plant. They are popular after’dinner beverages and naturally 100% caffeine–free. They are composed of dried flowers, leaves, seeds and roots and can be sweetened or not. Here are different types of Herbal Tea:
Chamomile Tea: Chamomile tea is most commonly known for its calming effects and is frequently used as a sleep aid. It is a herb that’s extracted from daisy flowers and has been consumed from centuries.
Peppermint Tea: Peppermint Tea is the most common type of herbal tea used to support digestive tract health, it also has antioxidant, anticancer, antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Ginger Tea: This healthy drink is a spicy flavoured drink that has disease-fighting antioxidants. Ginger tea also fights inflammation and strengthens your immune system.
Hibiscus Tea: Hibiscus tea is made from the colorful flowers of the hibiscus plant. It has a pink-red color and refreshing, tart flavor and can be enjoyed hot or iced.
Native to the Yunnan province in China, it is a fermented tea that was traditionally used as a medicine in Asia. Also known as pu‘er, its flavor profile is earthy and rich. It is often aged to further develop flavor and aroma
Popular pu-erh teas include:
Pu-erh green: The uncooked tea is only processed lightly before fermentation, giving it a raw, earthy flavor.
Pu-erh black: Expect to sip a smoky and smooth tea.
The world of tea is exquisitely varied to offer something for everyone. Finding the best teas means trying new flavors and experimenting with blends. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and try something new. You never know when you’re going to discover your next new favorite.
Have you read Neeraj Narayanan’s book – This Guy’s On His Own Trip yet? It’s right now #1 bestseller in the travel books category on Amazon. Click here to buy your copy!