All “true” teas come from the Camellia sinensis plant. And while there are over 3,000 varieties of teas, each with its own specific characteristics, they have been classified into six main types.
Tea experts explain that the differences between the types of teas are primarily due to where the tea is grown, the climate, soil conditions and how the leaves are processed after they are picked. Altogether, these factors determine the flavor characteristics of tea.
Numerous studies have shown that many tea varieties can boost your immune system and fight inflammation, cancer and heart disease. While some brews provide more healthful advantages than others, evidence suggest that regularly drinking a cup of tea can have a lasting impact on your overall health and wellness.
Green tea production endeavors to avoid the oxidation of tea leaves to retain their natural green color and fresh flavor. Oxidation is a natural chemical process that turns fresh tea leaves into black.
Once picked, the green tea leaves and buds are allowed to dry slightly in the cool shade for a few hours. After the leaves have cooled and dried slightly, they are quickly steamed or roasted for a couple of minutes. Once steamed, the leaves are quickly dried and stored.
Standard green tea uses regular tea leaves that are first heated by steaming or roasting. The leaves are then cooled and repeatedly rolled and dried to give them a light color and fresh, grassy flavor.
Studies, including one published in the journal Chinese Medicine, have touted green tea as one of the healthiest beverages on the planet, and the tea with the highest concentration of antioxidants and the greatest number of healthful benefits when compared to other types of tea. Because it is the least processed, green tea retains more of the tea’s natural antioxidants.
Green tea can help boost brain and heart health and fight different types of cancer and liver diseases. Long-term consumption of green tea is also beneficial against obesity and Type-2 diabetes. (Related: 6 scientifically proven benefits of green tea.)
Up to the mid-17th century, all Chinese tea was green tea. But as foreign trade increased, the Chinese tea growers discovered that they could preserve the tea leaves with a fermentation process – resulting in black tea.
Black tea is made from young leaves and leaf buds. Once picked, the tea leaves are rolled until they start to darken and turn red. The darkened leaves are spread out in a cool location and allowed to ferment in contact with air for two to three days. Once fermented, the leaves are quickly dried, fully withered and fully oxidized. Finished black teas are transferred to airtight containers for storage.
A study published in the International Journal of Health Sciences established that drinking black tea on a regular basis improves the antioxidant potential of the body – helping reduce the risk of chronic disorders and improve overall health.
Black tea commonly yields a hearty, amber-colored brew. Some of the most popular types of black teas are bold breakfast teas: Assam, Darjeeling, English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, Keemun, Lapsang and Souchong.
Produced mainly in China and Taiwan, oolong tea is made from young tea leaves and leaf buds. Tea leaves for oolong tea are allowed to ferment for about 45 minutes in the sun, turned frequently to allow air to reach all parts of the leaves. After the sun time, the leaves are moved and allowed to sit in the shade for a few hours at room temperature. As the leaves dry, their edges begin to turn red. Once the leaves have changed color, they are quickly dried and stored.
Depending on how long it’s aged, oolong tea can range from green to a dark brown color. Its flavor is light and floral but way less perfumy than green tea.
Health benefits of oolong tea include healthy cognitive function, healthy blood sugar level, fat-burning boost, bone strength, cancer prevention, healthy cholesterol level, stress relief, oral health, skin health and a healthy gut. Oolong tea has all been found to have great antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
Coming exclusively from Yunnan, China, pu-erh tea is famous for its distinctively earthy flavor. It has been fermented, often stored underground for several years and traditionally compressed into bricks or round cakes.
Drinking pu-erh tea comes with its own perks.
A study published in the journal Nutrition Research showed that taking high doses of pu-erh tea extract is tied to weight loss, reduced body mass index and less abdominal fat, thanks to its gallic acid content.
Pu-erh tea has been shown to stabilize blood sugar, keep cholesterol in check, support liver health. It may have an anti-cancer effect as well, which is a good starting point for research on future treatments, according to researchers.
White tea is simply withered and dried, causing very light oxidation. Its flavor is similar to that of green tea, but is usually more creamy, soft and sweet.
Like pretty much all other types of teas, white tea also comes with a number of health benefits. It has antioxidant properties and can boost heart health and brain health. According to an article published in Nonvitamin and Nonmineral Nutritional Supplements, white tea can also make your teeth, bones, skin and hair healthier.
Said to be the rarest type of tea, yellow tea (called huangcha in Chinese) is processed like green tea but is more slowly dried to make the leaves take on a yellow color. Yellow tea has a mild and silky taste and was once treated as a drink only meant for the royals and elite. It is an expensive and luxurious tea with a unique aroma.
The polyphenols derived from yellow tea have been found to combat oxidative stress and protect your skin from the signs of photoaging and protect you from heart disease and cancer. Specific polyphenols in yellow tea can also help improve blood sugar control and benefit people with diabetes.
Visit FoodIsMedicine.com for more stories about the health benefits of drinking tea.
Watch the video below discussing the benefits of green tea.
This video is from the Frozen in Time channel at Brighteon.com.