Types of Tea

Tony Bowles

All tea, whatever the variety, comes from the same plant - the Camellia Sinensis. The different characters of the teas, along with their chemical composition and appearance, are created through the oxidisation process and the way the leaves are plucked. The other factors that affect the taste of the tea are: soil, climate, altitude and latitude of the tea plantation.

White tea

White tea is given it's name due to the silver hairs on the leaves that give it it's white appearance. The leaves are always picked by hand while the buds are in their new growth phase and before they are fully opened. In recent studies, white tea has been found to be beneficial to health, due to the high levels of antioxidants present. This is because of the gentle drying, natural withering process and lack of any real processing. White tea is best served without milk and has a deliciously light refreshing taste.

Green tea

When the cells in a tea leaf are broken, the enzymes absorb oxygen and oxidisation takes place. This causes the leaves to turn a dark colour. With green tea, the leaves are steamed so that the enzymes are disabled, this allows the tea to be free from oxidisation.

There are notable health benefits from green tea including weight loss and the boosting of the body's metabolism. The reasons behind this are that the leaves are plucked once the bud has fully opened and there is very little in the way of processing. This allows the leaves to retain high levels of antioxidants.


Most tea that is consumed is produced by steeping the leaves in water and then drinking the water that has been flavoured. Matcha is different in that the tea leaves are ground into a fine powder and the powder is consumed as well. Matcha can be brewed in different ways and since it was grown exclusively in Japan, the brewing method follows certain guidelines that are carried out in Japanese ceremonies. 

Matcha in it's traditional form is made from Gyokuro leaves. These leaves are kept shaded from sunlight for about three weeks before they are picked. The shading of the leaves produces a chlorophyll which is higher than the amount which is normally found in tea leaves. When the leaves are picked, they are steamed so that the enzymes are disabled. This disabling of the enzymes prevents the leaves from becoming oxidised. The leaves are then dried and all the veins and stems are removed. This process produces a very pure tea leaf which goes by the name of 'Tencha'. This resulting leaf is then ground into a fine powder and is called 'Matcha'. If you want information on how to prepare and brew Matcha, then please follow this link. Brewing Matcha.

Pouchong tea

Pouchong tea has a more of a smoother flavour than Oolong, but a stronger flavour than Green tea. This is achieved by exposing the leaves to a oxidisation process, where only 8 to 10% oxidisation takes place. The leaves are then exposed to withering from the sun as well as indoors, followed by rolling, panning and drying. Pouchong tea is enjoyable and has a delicate and light taste. 

Oolong tea

Oolong tea is only partially oxidised, this is achieved by placing paper or cloth on the leaves during the oxidisation process. Oolong tea differs depending on the region where the tea is grown, and it is up to the skill of the producer to maintain a consistency in the taste of the tea.

Oolong tea is sometimes referred to as Wulong, but there is no difference in the tea at all, it is simply a case of different names. Oolong tea also has health benefits in terms of weigh loss and boosting the body's metabolism.

Black tea

Black tea is the most well known of all the tea varieties in the west. The leaves are fully oxidised, meaning that the enzymes have fully absorbed oxygen, and this gives it it's dark colour and taste. The taste of the tea will vary depending on where it's grown, and it is the responsibility of the producers to maintain consistency in the taste. If there are various types of black tea blended together, then the name given to the resulting blend is called 'Breakfast tea'.