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Tea Varieties

5 Basic Varieties of Tea:
White, Green, Oolong,
Black, and Pu-Erh

Tea Varieties

There are five basic varieties of tea: white, green, oolong, black, and pu-erh. Don’t forget, all types of tea begin with a tea leaf from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. How the tea leaf is processed after it is picked determines if it becomes white, green, oolong, black, or pu-erh tea. After a tea is processed into one of the five basic types it can also be blended, flavored or scented.

Mixtures of tea and other botanical ingredients and flavorings have increased the selection of tea available in the marketplace exponentially. Earl Grey is a popular example of a flavored black tea. The basic categories of tea, and their more common variations, are described below. Popular herbal infusions (or tisanes), have been included as well.

Tea Varieties
  • organic makaibari estate darjeeling 1st flush black tea
  • BlackTeaFully oxidized during manufacture, black tea has dark brown/black leaves. Notable types of Indian black tea include: Darjeeling, Assam, and Nilgiri. Varieties such as Yunnan and Keemun come to us from China. Ceylon (Sri Lanka) is also known for excellent black teas.
  • organic dragonwell lung ching green tea
  • Green TeaUnoxidized, green tea maintains the leaves' green color through processing. Brew made from these delicate leaves is often vegetative. Most green teas are produced in China and Japan, both of which are known for excellent, yet very distinct, green tea manufacture. Japan uses steam to halt oxidation of its green tea during manufacture, while China uses pan- or kiln-firing.
  • organic ti kuan yin oolong tea
  • Oolong TeaOolong tea is only partially oxidized in the manufacturing process. Because of this, the color, flavor and aroma of oolongs range widely between that of green and black teas. Formosa (Taiwan) is renowned for the quality of its oolongs.
  • organic makaibari estate silver tips white tea
  • White Tea After harvesting, white tea is simply withered and dried (similar to an herb). As a result, white teas offer the most exquisitely subtle tea drinking experience. These teas originated in China's Fujian province, and continue to be produced in limited quantities in only a few parts of the world to this day.
  • organic wild tree mini tuo cha pu erh tea
  • Pu-erh Tea Produced only in China, pu-erh processing is a closely guarded secret. Properly cared for, pu-erh tea is actually alive as enzymes in the tea are allowed to ferment and age, greatly enhancing the tea’s flavor over time. Pu-erh is the only “aged” tea, and can be fully-oxidized like black tea or unoxidized like green tea. Qing Cha (sometimes referred to as “raw” or “green” pu-erh) is the oldest and most famous version of pu-erh processing. Shu Cha (“ripe” or “cooked” pu-erh) is an accelerated version of Qing Cha that was developed in 1972 to help meet consumer demand. Both methods can produce an excellent tea that improves in value and taste with time, and can be finished as loose leaf tea or pressed into shapes.
  • organic-masala-chai-black-tea
  • Masala Chai Hailing from India, masala chai is an increasingly popular blend of tea and spices. Traditionally, black tea serves as the foundation for this flavorful beverage, however chai using green tea, rooibos and yerba mate are becoming popular. Exotic spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and pepper give chai its enticing flavor. Chai is usually served with warmed milk and honey.
  • organic chamomile mint
  • Tisanes (herbal infusions) Tisanes are brews made using botanical ingredients other than tea, such as herbs, fruit, and flowers. Peppermint and chamomile are common examples of tisanes.
  • organic rooibos
  • Rooibos A tisane of particular note these days is the South African herb rooibos (pronounced ROY-bus), native to the beautiful Cedarberg region. Often mistakenly referred to as "red tea," rooibos isn’t actually a tea plant in the technical sense, meaning that it’s not derived from the Camellia sinensis like black tea, green tea, etc. It’s actually a legume (a bean plant called Aspalathus linearis) and is naturally caffeine-free, offers a whole host of medicinal benefits, and is now blended with flavorings in much the same way tea is.
  • organic yerba mate
  • Yerba Mate Yerba Mate (pronounced YUR-ba MAH-tay) is a small tree related to the holly plant, native to the subtropical highlands of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. A vegetative brew with distinct roasty and minty notes that contains its own variety of caffeine (called matteine), Yerba mate is a healthful brew that is considered "the drink of the gods" by many indigenous peoples in South America. It is a staple in the diets of many South American cattlemen, or "gauchos," being a food product that can stand up to the rigors of life on the range. So prevalent is the consumption of yerba mate in South America, that mate bars are as widespread as coffee shops in the US.