3 Tea Types & Their Benefits
Tea is the second most popular and consumed beverage in the world, after water. In the United States alone, close to 80 percent of households have a stash of tea handy while over 159 million people in America consume tea every single day.
Black tea is by far the most popular brew in the United States. While the black tea has many merits, it is definitely not the only tasty tea that offers numerous health benefits. In reality, there are many different varieties of tea.
What Are the Different Types of Tea?
All tea comes from the plant known as Camellia sinensis, with the exception of herbal tea, which technically isn’t actually tea. The 3 main types of tea are white, green, and black. The differences in tea can be attributed to the differences in processing time and processing techniques.
How is Tea Processing Done?
Tea processing is done in 5 basic steps. Some of the teas don’t utilize all of the steps while other types of tea repeat them several times. Here is a breakdown of the steps involved in tea processing:
- Tea Plucking
- Withering i.e. Allowing Tea Leaves to Wilt and Soften
- Rolling the Tea Leaves to Shape them and Wring Out the Juices
- Firing (Drying)
Oxidizing is the most crucial part of tea processing. It occurs when the enzymes in the tea leaves interact with oxygen once the cell walls are broken apart. This may happen quickly through cutting, rolling, crushing, or at a much slower pace through the leaf’s natural decomposition.
3 Popular Tea Types
1. White Tea
White tea is uncured and unfermented, which makes it the least processed of all types of tea. The tea leaves are picked early before the opening of the bud and when the small whitish hairs are still present. The leaves are then sun dried.
Due to the minimal processing, white tea is believed to contain the highest levels of antioxidants, with studies showing that white tea might actually have a strong cancer fighting capability. White tea is also the mildest when it comes to flavor.
Popular Types of White Tea
- Silver Needle (Bai Hao Yin Zhen): Sweet flavor, floral scent, rare since it is only made from buds
- White Peony (Bai Mu Dan): Slightly stronger flavor due to the inclusion of buds and young leaves
- Tribute Eyebrow (Gong Mei): Richer, earthier flavor compared to other types of white tea
- Long-Life Eyebrow (Shou Mai)
- Darjeeling White Tea: Grown in India and cheaper than white teas grown in Yunnan
Benefits of White Tea
White tea is minimally processed, which is why it is believed to contain particularly high levels of catechins, which are good for health. It also offers plenty of other health benefits, which include the following:
- It is rich in antioxidants, which means it can potentially protect against oxidative stress
- It can help support the body’s response to inflammation
- It may help promote brain health
- It can help support dental health since it contains catechins, fluorides, and tannins. Catechins and tannins help support the management of plaque bacteria in the mouth while fluoride has been known to support teeth health.
2. Green Tea
Green tea is the second least processed tea, coming in right after white tea. While the tea leaves go through some form of processing, it is not as substantial as that of other tea varieties. The tea leaves are steamed to create the green tea.
Green tea is one of the least processed varieties, which means that it retains more of the good components, which include a powerful antioxidant called EGCG, which has possible health benefits. It is due to this reason that many studies related to the health benefits of tea focus on green tea.
Popular Types of Green Tea
- Genmaicha: Japanese green tea
- Biluochun: Chinese-style green tea with a vegetal, sometimes fruity taste and has a strong aroma
- Dragon Well (Longjing): hand roasted Chinese tea with a fresh, slightly sweet flavor profile
- Laoshan: Makes for a creamy, smooth brew
- Matcha Tea: Japanese style tea and one of the most popular options around
- Sencha: Incredibly popular type of Japanese tea with a savory, grassy, and slightly bitter
Benefits of Green Tea
Green tea is perhaps the most heavily studied tea and research into this brew is so far overwhelmingly positively. Research suggests that green tea may:
- Support brain health
- Support heart health
- Promote mental alertness and acuity
- Supports the body’s natural protection against oxidative stress
- Supports fasting
3. Black Tea
Black tea is the variety that undergoes the most processing, which includes fermentation of the tea leaves, which causes the green leaves to turn black. Black varieties of tea contain the highest caffeine levels and are believed to help protect lungs from cigarette smoke and lowering your risk of stroke.
Popular Types of Black Tea:
- Earl Grey: Black tea flavored with citrus and/or bergamot
- Ceylon Black Tea: Features bold flavors with hints of spices or chocolates
- Irish Breakfast: Reddish color, malty flavor
- Kenyan Black Tea: Dark, slightly astringent profile
- Yunnan Black Tea: Chocolatey, malty, and perhaps even spicy
- Masala Chai Tea: Blended with a variety of spices such as cloves, cardamom, and peppercorns
- Lapsang Souchong: Distinguished by its smoky flavor
- Keemum Black Tea: Fruity, Wine-Like Flavoring
- English Breakfast: Full bodied and may resemble Ceylon Black in flavor
- Darjeeling: Delicate form of black tea that features floral or fruity elements
Benefits of Black Tea
Black tea is slowly but surely getting more attention from researchers. Research might still be undergoing, but the research so far suggests that black tea may:
- Support the body’s protection against oxidative stress
- Support heart health
Tea is not only one of the healthiest beverages but it is also one of the most popular ones. However, how you prepare your tea can affect its overall health and quality. Use the right tools to prepare your tea and enjoy the flavor and health benefits of tea without the unexpected additives. When it comes to choosing the right tea, much of it will depend on your personal preferences. Happy sipping!