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A Brief introduction to Tea Types

Chinese Legend tells us that the Chinese Emperor Shen-Nong discovered Tea in 2737 BC.

" The emperor enjoyed his drinking water boiled before he consumed it. One day, a dead leaf from a wild tea bush fell into the water while being boiled and the first cup of tea was enjoyed."

Today tea refers to anything that can be steeped in hot or cold water and consumed as a beverage.

Historically tea only referred to two types of plant:

  1. Camellia Sinensis Sinensis plant located in Southern and Eastern China

  2. Camellia Sinensis Assamica from North-Eastern India and South-Eastern Asia

Tea plants are small ever green shrubs but they often grow larger in the wilderness.

Today, over 60 countries worldwide grow and harvest tea (including Canada).

There are 6 main types of tea:

  • White Tea

  • Green Tea

  • Black Tea

  • Oolong Tea

  • Yellow Tea

  • Puur’eh

The tea we drink tends to come from the youngest 2-3 leaves as they have the most flavour, and sometimes the buds that are harvested from each shoot of the tea plant.

All tea is made from the same leaf - it is the vast variation of processing that creates the large variety of tea available.

Oxidation is what determines the type of tea the leaf becomes.

Oxidation is similar to what happens when a Banana or an Apple is left exposed to air and starts to turn colours due to the chemical reaction happening with Oxygen.

White Tea

White is one of the purest forms of tea with least processing. It is often young leaves and buds that are plucked before they have a chance to oxidize.

White tea tends to be smooth, light bodied, delicate and have subtle flavours of peach, apricot, and honey.

Because it is processed less than the other tea's white tea has extremely high levels of antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavonoids, and tannins.

Green Tea

Green tea also has little to no processing. Green tea is not oxidized but heat is applied to the young leaf to stop oxidation from happening.

Some places will fire the tea leaves in a large pan while other places apply short bursts of super heated steam.

Green tea tends to contain more mature leaves than white and has a slight to medium bodied flavour with sweet fruity notes. Of course due to location some areas may have more grassy, roasted or smoky notes.

Green Tea is also very high in Antioxidants called Catechins, which help prevent cell damage and reduce free radicals in the body.

Black Tea

Black Tea is the most popular tea in North America. Black tea is fully oxidized which gives it a more robust and stronger character.

Black tea flavours differ greatly depending on origin but black tea tends to be full bodied, and rich with hints of malt, dried fruit and honied sweetness.

Black tea also includes Antioxidants such as catechins, theaflavins, and thearubigins which help to promote overall health.


There are over 3000 types of oolong made in China.

Oolong is more oxidized than green tea or white tea but is not fully oxidized. The labor is complicated and intensive, so Oolong comes in a variety of colours and flavours.

Oolong looks similar to other teas but some may have a ball shape leaf.

Oolong varies largely in flavour, aroma and body. Lighter Oolongs which are also known as Jade Oolong are more medium bodied and floral, the darker Oolongs known as Amber, are medium to full bodied, with fewer floral notes and more fruity ones with a more toasty and warming sensation.

According to research nutrients in oolong tea have stronger antioxidant and anti-mutagenic effects and Oolong is also shown to lower blood sugar levels.

Yellow tea remains difficult to find outside of China.

Yellow tea is the rarest category of tea in the world.

Yellow Tea is similar to a Green Tea taste profile but usually more mellow.

The tea is left to ferment a little before being completely dried and the enzymes "killed."


Pu'reeh is a special tea because it only grows in Yuannan province and nowhere else.

It is a large category yet we only encounter the ripe product in North America.

Pu'reeh is fully oxidized like black tea and can be darker when steeped.

Tends to be full bodied flavour with earthy and woody notes and very smooth.

It is known to help digestion, fermentation probably has something to do with it.

It is the only fully fermented tea and it is said the flavour gets better and more valuable with age.

Herbal brews are now classified as a sub-branch of tea called ‘Tisanes’.

Tisanes include herbs, fruit and plants that can also be infused but are not Camellia Sinensis.

This category includes but is not limited to:


Meaning red bush - Rooibos is a small shrub native to only a few corners of South Africa.

Rooibos has had thin needle like leaves that are oxidized during harvest to bring out the nutty, fruity flavour with woody undertones.

Rooibos is an exceptional source of antioxidants and has a smooth taste with NO caffeine.

You can steep Rooibos a longtime without resulting bitterness, but 4-5 minutes is recommended.


Yerba Mate shrub is native to South America.

During harvest Mate leaves are plucked and roasted over fire to bring out the sweet toasty character.

Mate has lots of nutrients and antioxidants but also a lot of caffeine.

It is recommended to steep Mate for about 5-6min, AND you can re-steep your tea up to 3 times!


Some herbs can be consumed on their own but due to the nature of flavour most herbs are blended into mixes to taste better.

Many of the blends stem from traditional healing methods, and are blends that healers have been using for ages.

Herbal tea is recommended to steep no longer than 5 minutes as the flavour can become very strong.


Fruit tea is a very large category of tea, but they all taste delicious, have a wide range of benefits and are an amazing alternative to gross sugary beverages.

Fruit tea is recommended to 4-5 minutes as like herbal tea the flavour can become very strong quickly.

Fruit tea is also great for:

  • Popsicles

  • Drink Mixes/Sangria

  • Dying Clothes

  • Keeping littles hydrated

Disclaimer: These are notes with a bit of personal notes added in from a training course I attended. If you are interested in learning more on how to get free tea - DM Tea to @wickedandwell on Instagram.

Looking forward to sharing the amazing health benefits of Tea with you, and it can be used to improve mental and physical health.

Share with your friends who you know could use a big cup of tea.

Cheers for now, Xxo Samantha

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