In the history of humankind, tea has been enjoyed for thousands of years, spanning various cultures and countries. This does not surprise us. Tea is a rather simple beverage — whipped up by soaking dried leaves in hot water to create a delicious warm beverage.
However, tea can refer to many different flavours, with over 3000 tea types. Tea typically falls into several types of teas, including green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, herbal tea, and other tea types like yerba mate.
The popularity of tea throughout the world is undeniable. After water, tea is the most popular beverage in the world. So, we wanted to create a guide for this popular little beverage and walk you through your options when it comes to a steamy mug of goodness to begin or end your day.
But before we jump into all the different tea varieties — where do all teas types originate from?
tea plant camellia sinensis: source of different types of teas
All types of teas come from one place — the Camellia Sinensis plant. The camellia sinensis is the plant from which all 'true' tea types of teas originate. It's an evergreen plant that can grow as tall as sixty feet in the wild. However, when grown with the intent of harvest, camellia sinensis bushes are typically only grown to about three feet. This plant originated thousands of years ago in southern China.
The leaves of Camellia sinensis are used to make up all of the crowd-favourites when it comes to types of teas, including black tea, green tea, oolong tea and white tea. Which tea types are made from the plant will depend upon the specific plant variety of Camellia sinensis and its growing environment and processing method. Tea types that don't contain Camellia sinensis aren't actually tea - but because most people consider them herbal teas, they tend to be thought of as different types of teas.
There are two main varieties of Camellia sinensis:
Camellia sinensis var. sinensis — This plant grows primarily in China and other East Asian countries. Tea types made from this plant tend to have a mild and mellow flavour.
Camellia sinensis var. assamica — Of the tea variety this one grows primarily in India. Types of teas made from this plant tend to have a stronger flavour.
Let's kick off our list of different types of teas with none other than green tea. Back in the day and for a good few thousand years of tea's story, it was all about the green stuff. Every cuppa was green tea with a flavour profile so diverse. Green tea offers a medley of vegetal, earthy and bright notes that've continued to grow in popularity over the period. Its light caffeine content makes it a perfect tea for any time of the day. Some of the popular green tea types are mao feng green tea and Chunmee green tea with mint.
how is green tea made?
Like actual types of tea, this one is crafted by plucking young Camellia sinensis leaves and gently withering them. Afterward, the leaves are either pan-fired or steamed to halt oxidation, preserving their vibrant green colour and natural flavours. Once cooled, the leaves are rolled, shaped and then dried. This minimal processing retains green tea's distinctive vegetal and grassy notes, setting it apart from other types of tea – the result is a refreshing cuppa.
where is green tea from?
Green tea finds its roots in ancient China, where it was first cultivated over 4,000 years ago. As its popularity grew, it spread throughout Asia, becoming a cultural emblem of Japan, Korea and other neighbouring countries. China's rich tea heritage birthed different types of tea (yes – the green tea varieties). In Japan, matcha and sencha earned their esteemed places in tea ceremonies and daily rituals while Korea boasts its signature green tea, nokcha, with a unique twist. Each region's climate, soil and cultivation methods contribute to the diverse flavours and aromas of green tea, making it a truly global treasure.
In the world of different types of teas, few tea types hold as much universal appeal as black tea. Renowned for its bold flavours and highest caffeine content among all tea types, black tea holds a special place among tea enthusiasts. Interestingly, even those who aren't avid tea drinkers are likely to be familiar with black tea. Avid tea drinkers like its taste profile that ranges from robust and malty to delicately nuanced. From classic blends like English breakfast tea bags to the aromatic Darjeeling Earl Grey tea bags, black tea's rich and diverse character has become a beloved choice for many of us.
how is black tea made?
Like all teas (traditional types of tea), black tea is derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. However, its distinctive processing method sets it apart from other types of tea. Fresh tea leaves are withered to reduce moisture, then rolled to release enzymes and initiate oxidation. This stage turns leaves from green to a red-brown shade. After oxidizing, leaves are fired to halt the process and finally, they're sorted, graded and packed.
where is black tea from?
Black tea hails from various corners of the world, with each region contributing its unique charm. Like Assam in India, boasts robust and malty black teas while the hills of Darjeeling offer muscatel notes. Sri Lanka's Ceylon region presents bright and brisk teas and Kenya delivers bold, full-bodied flavours. China, the birthplace of tea, produces Keemun with its complex profile and Taiwan's Sun Moon Lake yields a sweet, honeyed character. Each locale's climate, soil and altitude shape the flavour, aroma and appearance of the tea. This global diversity ensures that black tea lovers have a vast array of choices – each sip a journey through the world's tea-producing heartlands.
White tea may not be as well-known as the previous types of tea on our list, but it sure is a gem cherished by tea aficionados. Its unique and delicate flavour profile has attracted a dedicated following and white tea has carved a niche for itself in the tea world – gaining popularity as a sophisticated and refined option. In recent years, the interest in specialty and artisanal teas has propelled white tea into the spotlight, making it a sought-after choice among connoisseurs and those exploring the different types of tea.
how is white tea made?
White tea is a delicate delight made from Camellia sinensis plant’s young leaves and buds before they’re fully open. The process begins with plucking these buds, gently sun-drying or oven baking them over low-temperatures to preserve their natural goodness. Unlike the bolder types of tea, black and green tea, white tea undergoes minimal oxidation, resulting in a subtle and light flavour profile.
where is white tea from?
White tea finds its origin in China's Fujian province, where Camellia sinensis plant has been cultivated for centuries. Incidentally, the Fujian province is renowned for its breathtaking scenery where, in mist-shrouded mountains, tea artisans delicately pluck the youngest buds and leaves of the tea plant during early spring. These precious harvests undergo minimal processing, allowing their natural beauty to shine through in every cup. But that’s not the only region known for white tea production, other regions like Darjeeling in India and Sri Lanka also craft their own versions of this exquisite brew.
The world of words can be a bit of a linguistic adventure, and Oolong tea's journey is a prime example. Despite its true pronunciation being "woolong" the way tongues trip over sounds has led to the commonly heard "oolong." Another lesser known fun fact about oolong tea is that, unlike other types of tea, it can be infused several times and each infusion a new dimension of taste unfurls. Their semi-oxidized nature and tightly rolled form allow them to unveil new layers of flavour through several brews.
how is oolong tea made?
Among the different types of teas made by Camellia sinensis plant, oolong tea stands as one of the variations. Picked with precision, the tea leaves undergo partial oxidation. The level of oxidation is somewhere between that of green and black tea types. This intricate step defines its distinctive flavour which can be earthy, floral or fruity. The flavour also depends on the type of oolong tea and where it was produced.
where is oolong tea from?
Oolong tea boasts a rich heritage hailing primarily from China and Taiwan. The Fujian province in China is renowned for producing some of the finest traditional oolongs, celebrated for their complex flavour profiles and unique processing techniques. Taiwan, too, holds a special place in oolong history, with its mountainous regions nurturing different types of tea like Formosa Oolong – prized for their floral aromas and delightful aftertaste. The intricate craftsmanship in these regions contributes to the nuanced flavours that oolong enthusiasts enjoy. As oolong tea gains global popularity, its origins continue to paint a vivid picture of the cultural and geographical influence from which it emerges.
Say hello to matcha – it's like green tea, but with a twist. Unlike the regular types of tea, here you drink the whole leaf in powdered form (a reason for its higher caffeine content compared to standard green tea). This vibrant green powder is a real head-turner as it has turned into a health sensation lately and shows up in various recipes. Now, fair warning, matcha's a bit of an acquired taste, so try it before you experiment with an elaborate recipe. Start with a light touch and work your way up as you cosy up to its unique charm.
how is matcha tea made?
Matcha tea's creation is a unique process. Tea bushes are shaded for weeks, building the level of chlorophyll (the compound that creates the green pigment in many plants and algae). After handpicking, leaves are steamed, dried and masterfully ground into a vibrant green powder. This potent powder is then whisked with hot water to create the mesmerizing matcha tea. The journey from leaf to cup captures nature's essence in each sip, making matcha a unique and cherished experience.
where is matcha tea from?
Like several other types of tea, the roots of matcha trace back to China, where powdered green tea made its debut during the Tang Dynasty. It was the 12th century when matcha got introduced to Japan. This amazing drink got deeply intertwined with Japanese culture and spirituality. Today, matcha plays a starring role in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, embodying harmony, respect and tranquillity. Kicking off after a hearty Japanese meal, this ritual can stretch from three to five hours – talk about savouring the moment! Matcha’s cultural significance is as profound as its flavour, making matcha a cherished emblem of Japan's tea heritage and a sought-after gem worldwide.
Chai tea is a unique blend and not one of the conventional types of tea. It’s a beloved and captivating blend that has carved a special place in the hearts of tea enthusiasts worldwide. The enchanting fusion of spices and rich tea leaves creates a delicious balance, inducing a warm and comforting experience. The versatility of chai tea bags makes it equally enjoyable hot or iced, and its flavourful essence extends beyond a simple beverage. Undoubtedly, Chai tea has earned a well-deserved spot among the finest and most distinctive tea varieties.
how is chai tea made?
Chai tea is crafted by infusing a blend of robust black tea leaves with a medley of aromatic spices, typically including cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves and black pepper. This flavourful mixture is steeped in water and often simmered with milk for a creamy touch. Sweeteners like sugar or honey may be added to enhance the taste. The result is an amazing concoction that combines the boldness of tea with the inviting warmth of spices.
where is chai tea from?
Chai tea, with its origins deeply intertwined with the rich culture of South Asia, is believed to have originated in the Indian subcontinent. Its birthplace can be traced to the diverse regions of India, where local variations of spiced tea emerged as an integral part of daily life. While the exact historical genesis remains elusive, chai's popularity surged across the subcontinent, each locale imbuing it with its unique blend of spices. The name itself, "chai" is the Hindi word for "tea", originating from "cha", which is the Chinese word for tea. This flavourful drink transcended borders, and today chai tea symbolizes more than just a beverage – it’s a cultural heritage.
Yellow tea stands as the most elusive among the other types of tea – like an unassuming friend who doesn't readily open up. Renowned for its scarcity and distinctive processing methods, yellow tea is a captivating beverage with a rich history – offering a unique and nuanced experience for tea enthusiasts. If you like a delicate flavour profile, you’ll enjoy this tea and its vibrant golden hues. You can try the three yellow tea types and decide which one of the exquisite tea varieties you like more. Yellow tea has three primary types of tea including Junshan Yinzhen, Meng Ding Huang Ya and Huoshan Huangya. Each presents a distinctive flavour profile, colour and origin, enriching the world of tea.
how is yellow tea made?
Like all true types of tea yellow tea is made from Camellia sinensis plant, however, yellow tea undergoes a specialized step in the crafting process that’s not required in other types of tea. After withering and heat fixation, a unique "sealing yellow" step follows, where the tea is gently wrapped in cloth or paper for a slow oxidation. This imparts the characteristic golden hue and refines the flavour.
where is yellow tea from?
Yellow tea finds its origins rooted in China, where it holds a significant place in the nation's rich tea culture. Primarily cultivated in regions like Hunan, Sichuan and Anhui, each area contributes its unique touch to the production of this rare brew. Junshan Yinzhen hails from Hunan's Junshan Island, Meng Ding Huang Ya emerges from Sichuan's Meng Ding Mountain and Huoshan Huangya is crafted in Anhui's Huoshan County. These distinct locales and their meticulous cultivation methods play an instrumental role in shaping the different types of tea flavours, aromas and appearances that characterize yellow tea, making it a true embodiment of China's tea heritage.
With the taste buds still tingling from the earlier tastings, let's now turn our attention to this rare tea. In a world of colourful types of tea, there's a brew that invites you to a palette of purples – it’s the one that transforms into a masterpiece of amethyst and plum. Purple tea is one of the distinctive tea varieties that owes its enchanting hue to anthocyanin pigments, the same compounds found in blueberries and grapes. This newfound botanical wonder has only recently graced our senses and doesn’t carry the weight of centuries of cultivation or tradition. But therein lies its intrigue – a blank canvas awaiting exploration.
how is purple tea made?
Purple tea cultivation begins with specialized Camellia sinensis variant. However, unlike the variety from which other types of tea are made, this one has leaves with a purple tint due to anthocyanin pigments. These plants thrive in specific high-altitude regions, typically in Kenya. After careful plucking, the leaves undergo controlled oxidation and withering to bring out their unique flavour and purple hue. The result is a tea that stands apart visually and taste-wise from traditional types of tea. The combination of cultivation techniques and processing methods crafts this exquisite and extraordinary brew.
where is purple tea from?
Originating from the lush landscapes of Kenya, purple tea emerges as a unique gem among different types of teas. Nestled amid the rolling hills of this East African nation, purple tea finds its home in the high-altitude regions, where the combination of climate and soil composition imparts its distinctive characteristics. The tea bushes, known as "Purple leaf tea" plants, boast leaves with a remarkable purple hue due to the presence of pigments, a trait seldom found in other tea varieties. The story of purple tea's origin is intertwined with the dedication of Kenyan farmers who have harnessed their expertise to bring one of the extraordinary types of tea to the forefront, offering tea aficionados a remarkable taste of Kenya's unique terroir.
Pu-erh tea is one of the unusual types of tea that's slowly garnering a global following. Unlike other types of tea, the distinct identity of this one defies easy classification and relies solely on its geographic origin for identification. But that doesn’t hinder its value. In fact, the meticulously crafted pu-erh gains value and reputation as it ages – often regarded as a wise investment choice. Rightly so as it fetches impressive sums at auctions. Additionally, pu-erh is a cultural cornerstone in China – it’s served to guests, gifted during weddings and even collected like vintage wines. Beyond Asia, however, pu-erh is not very popular but it’s a growing niche.
how is pu-erh tea name made?
Crafted from the very same Camellia sinensis plant that gives rise to all other types of tea varieties, Pu-erh tea takes shape through a process of deliberate fermentation and aging. This transformative fermentation grants Pu-erh its unique flavour profile, often likened to earthiness or even mushroom notes, setting it apart from other tea types.
where is pu-erh tea from?
Pu-erh tea hails from the verdant landscapes of Yunnan Province, China, a region renowned for its centuries-old tea culture. Nestled in the southwestern part of the country, Yunnan's diverse climate and fertile soil create an ideal environment for tea cultivation. The ancient tea trees, some over a thousand years old, yield leaves that are meticulously harvested and then processed. What sets pu-erh tea apart is its distinctive post-production fermentation process, allowing it to age and mature like fine wine. This process takes place in the town of Pu'er itself, from which the tea derives its name. The resulting brew offers an intriguing complexity of flavours and textures – a true reflection of Yunnan's tea-making heritage.
We've made the call to add this tea to our list of different types of teas even though, it might not be your traditional "tea". But hey, why let technicalities get in the way of a lip-smacking mug? And we reckon you shouldn't either. Besides, herbal teas have been a vital part of our lives for centuries. Before modern medicine, herbs were our go-to for treating a variety of ailments. While some benefits still await scientific confirmation, these herbal teas also provide comfort and delightful flavours. From the tranquillity of chamomile to the zing of peppermint, each one of the herbal tea types is worth exploring.
how is herbal tea made?
Herbal tea is made by infusing dried herbs, flowers, fruits or plant parts in hot water. This infusion process allows the natural flavours and beneficial compounds to meld with the water, creating a soothing and flavourful beverage similar to tea. Unlike traditional types of tea, herbal teas are caffeine-free and offer a variety of tastes and potential health benefits, making them a popular choice for relaxation and well-being.
where is herbal tea from?
Herbal tea finds its origins across the globe, each region contributing its botanical wonders to this flavourful tradition. Chamomile tea, celebrated for its calming qualities, hails from ancient Egypt and the Mediterranean while peppermint tea springs from Europe – offering a refreshing zing. Lemon and ginger tea – a dynamic duo – originates from Asia, celebrated for its zesty kick and immune-boosting properties. Liquorice and mint tea traces back to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, offering a sweet and invigorating blend. Apple and cinnamon tea, reminiscent of cosy kitchens, comes from various cultures, delivering warmth and comfort. Rhubarb and ginger tea, a tangy delight, brings together Asia's zest and Europe's spice. Some herbal tea types from teapigs are – chocolate and mint tea bags, sweet ginger tea bags, super fruit tea bags and lemongrass tea bags.
yerba mate tea
Continuing down the list of various types of tea, the next one boasts the flavour profile of tea while delivering a wallop of energy like coffee. Yet, technically, it doesn’t fall into either category. The trio of stimulants – caffeine, theophylline and theobromine – in the tea collectively contributes to the invigorating qualities of yerba mate. They create an experience that resonates with the energizing effects of coffee and taste of tea, while embodying yerba mate’s own unique character. With its strong, bitter and vegetal profile, yerba mate boasts a highly distinctive taste that may necessitate some getting used to.
how is yerba mate tea name made?
Making yerba mate – the leaves are handpicked, sorted, dried and toasted to reduce their moisture by about 80%. Then they're coarsely cut for efficient storage in chambers with regulated conditions just like wine maturation. Finally, the leaves are ground, sorted or combined with dried stems and herbs.
Yerba mate tea is made in a vessel known as a "mate" or gourd. Originally, these gourds were small hollowed-out squash bowls but now they come in various materials.
where is yerba mate from?
Yerba mate, a cherished herbal beverage, originates from the heartland of South America. It finds its roots in the cultures of indigenous Guarani people, primarily in regions encompassing modern-day Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay and southern Brazil.
The Guarani discovered the invigorating qualities of the plant's (scientifically known as Ilex Paraguariensis) leaves and as the Spanish colonized South America, they witnessed its benefits too. But seed germination seemed tricky and was only unravelled as they observed native birds aiding growth through digestion. This led to taming birds to boost cultivation, but over time, they succeeded in emulating growth conditions through specific seed treatments. Nonetheless, its primary production hub remains in South America, with Brazil taking the lead as the largest herb producer, trailed by Argentina and Paraguay.
So, there we have it, a complete guide to all of the types of teas AKA the most delicious beverages in the world (no bias here). There are so many tea types out there, and while we covered most of the popular types of teas, there are so many more for you to discover. Both "true" tea and herbal teas are stacked with flavour and health advantages, so don't worry; we won't judge if you can't go past a cup of herbal tea at the end of the day.
faqs on different types of teas
Q. what are the six types of teas?
A. There are endless types of teas available. But there are six main types of teas. The six types of teas are as follows: Black tea, Green tea, White tea, Oolong tea, Pu-erh tea (dark tea), Yellow tea.
Q. what kind of different teas are there?
A. Among the classic types of tea, there are black, green, white, oolong, pu-erh and purple teas along with a whole world of herbal teas. Blending different types of teas creates more varieties – Earl Grey is a blend of black tea and bergamot oil while green tea and peppermint teabags showcase herbal tea blends.
Q. what type of tea is oolong?
A. Oolong, like all true tea types, is made from the Camellia sinensis plant. Oolong tea has a flavour and caffeine level that falls between black tea and green tea. It is partially oxidised, giving it a unique taste and aroma.
Q. what type of tea is chai?
A. Chai tea traditionally contains black tea, milk, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves. Technically it is not unique among the types of teas discussed because it is black tea at the end of the day. But, because of its unique cultural impact and origin, it’s worth a mention. Some modern variations forgo the black tea base and instead use herbal tea.