Most people know there's many different types of tea, like
black, green, oolong, and herbal. But do you know what actually makes them different? I won't go too in depth on each type (that's for other posts!) but I will tell you the main differences in the most popular types of tea!
Camelia Sinensus Teas
This is a fancy scientific term, but it’s just the name of the tea tree! Most teas you find are made from the leaves of this plant. What makes them different is how the leaves are processed!
Green tea is the most basic type of tea, and with very little processing on the leaves. That's why it tastes so earthy! The leaves get steamed, or toasted, and dried. (Speaking technically, it makes sure the leaves have the least oxidation possible!) Green tea generally has less than half the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. Matcha is an outlier, though, having the most of any tea, since it is tea leaves ground into a powder, so you get all the caffeine the leaf has!
Black & Oolong Tea
Black and oolong teas, along with other dark teas, are darker, deeper teas made from the same leaves as green tea. These teas are darker because the leaves are allowed to fully oxidize before they're heat-processed. Think about how lettuce gets darker when you let it sit out, it’s a similar process! These teas typically have more than half the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, and can sometimes have just as much if they're dark enough!
White tea is lesser known, but is also made from the tea tree, and is the least processed! It’s made from leaves that aren't fully grown yet, and still have white “hairs” on them, giving the tea its name. The buds are dried out as soon as they're picked so they don't oxidize, giving it a much lighter and slightly sweeter flavor. Because of this, it also has the least caffeine, usually having less than a fourth of that in a cup of coffee.
That was a lot of information, but there are many more types of tea that aren't made from the tea tree, and those are all considered herbal teas! The name is a bit misleading, but it's not only herbs! Tea can be made from pretty much anything, like flowers (chamomile, hibiscus, echinacea), and plants (ginger, turmeric, lemongrass). There are also teas that match the “herbal” name, like peppermint, sage, and lemon balm. These usually each have their own health benefits and are used as natural medicine. Peppermint is my favorite, helping with my constant headaches. These teas also have no caffeine, because they're not made from the tea tree!
There are many popular teas that actually blends, which use various teas as bases. Jasmine tea, for example, uses green tea as a base. Earl Grey and Breakfast teas use black tea. Many fruity teas will use green tea, while richer flavors like caramel will use black tea. There are also endless blends combining different herbal teas! Sleep teas, for example, commonly use chamomile and peppermint as bases.
I hope this explains the main difference between the many types of tea you hear about. I will go more in depth on each type at a later date, but if you want to know more about any certain type or have any questions, please let me know!
Thank you for reading ! :]