Black Tea is the most common tea in the United States. It is produced when withered tea leaves are rolled and allowed to oxidize (sometimes called fermentation). This process is similar to how an apple changes color when the white flesh is exposed to air. The water evaporates from the leaf allowing the leaf to take in more oxygen from the air. This darkens the leaves and develops flavor, color and body in the leaf. When the time is right, the tea is dried to stop the oxidation process and lock in these characteristics. When black tea is brewed you should have a robust cup with bright or lively notes that are perfect for breakfast teas, with about 50% of the caffeine as a similarly sized cup of coffee.
Green Tea is the least processed of all the teas. The leaves are pruned and then undergo a short oxidation process. Green tea is grown in both the sun and the shade. It can go through many different forms of processing such as: steaming, sun drying, oven drying or firing. Each of these processes will produce different tastes and types of green tea. The taste of green tea is often described as a fresh, earthy, plant-like taste with a touch of bitterness. Most green tea is mild and light tasting. Green tea contains a high level of antioxidants and polyphenols. Antioxidants reduce the amount of oxidation in your body, protecting your cells from damaging free radicals. This has been shown to possibly reduce cancer risks, heart disease risk, and reduce toxicity in the body. The polyphenols and phytochemicals in green tea promote a wide range of anti-aging, weight loss, and general health benefits. Green tea has become one of the most popular types of tea in America over the past 10 years.
White Tea comes from the buds of the tea plant and is picked very early in the tea harvests. White tea is very similar to green tea in preparation. It is usually withered by sun drying then lightly processed to avoid oxidation. White tea is a very light and clean tasting tea. There will be a hint of sweetness, but you will notice that it is close to tasteless. If you prefer strong drinks you might consider a different type of tea, as this will likely be disappointing. White tea contains more antioxidants than green or black teas and has many of the same health benefits of green tea, as they are prepared in a similar fashion.
Oolong Tea is different from other teas because of the unique technique by which it is processed. After the tea leaves are harvested, they are withered under the sun and then only partially oxidized. The amount of oxidation in an Oolong tea is less than that of a black tea. After oxidation, the tea is put through a rolling or twisting process that gives it its distinctive look. The flavor of Oolong tea is somewhere in-between green and black tea. It is not as weak as green tea, and not as strong as black. It has a slightly earthy taste with small hints of bitterness. There are many different kinds of oolong teas so the taste can vary. Oolong has many of the same health benefits as the other types of tea described above because it comes from the same plant. This type of tea is very commonly served in Chinese restaurants.
Rooibos Tea (Rooibos means “red bush”) comes from the Western Cape in South Africa. The Rooibos bush is much different than the traditional tea bush because it has needle-like leaves. This tea has been around for centuries but is fairly new to America. Rooibos comes in both oxidized and un-oxidized varieties. Green Rooibos is mild, earthy and delicate with a taste somewhat similar to green tea. Red Rooibos has a taste that is smooth, rich tasting very sweet. You can almost detect somewhat of a nutty flavor in it. Rooibos is a popular choice for iced teas and is very rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. Much like green tea, Rooibos has cancer-fighting qualities and many other health benefits. In South Africa, Rooibos has been used to treat allergies, asthma and skin problems for centuries. Rooibos is a caffeine-free tea.
Herbal Tea (and Fruit & Herbal) is technically not a true tea unless some Camellia sinensis leaves are incorporated into the blend itself. It is a mix of herbs, spices and various other creative materials, all infused together to create a blend. It is generally considered and labeled as a “tea” because of the brewing process. Herbal teas have a vast number of varieties available. The combination of herbs used to make herbal teas is virtually unlimited. Herbal teas can be designed for taste or to target specific health ailments. Due to the nature of herbal tea, it is impossible to give a general description of the health benefits. The health qualities of any herbal teas are completely dependent upon the herbs in the blend. Herbal teas have been designed to help with a wide variety of things such as heart health, colds, depression, detox, joint health, allergies, general wellness and many more.