8 Different Types of Tea - The Ultimate Guide

Updated on: October 20, 2023
Author: Nick
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The Different Types of Tea

This guide will introduce you to the many different types of tea the world has to offer!   

Teas are all made from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. Teas made from this plant are known as true teas. The main six true teas are black, green, oolong, pu-erh, white and yellow tea. 

But how are these teas so different, when they’re made from the same plant?

The versality of the tea plant and its take by different cultures around the world is truly fascinating to us!  

There are literally hundreds of different varieties tea, all coming from the same plant! 

The different growing conditions, harvesting, processing used by different cultures and peoples mean this plant can produce a plethora of teas that have unique flavors and properties.  

The process for creating tea is: 

  • Harvesting 
    Different types of tea are harvested at different times. Green tea has smaller young leaves and leaf buds. Black and Oolong tea have older larger leaves, and buds are used for white tea. 

  • Withering 
    The leaves are laid on cloths and left to sun dry to wither. The leaves are moved regularly for an even process. It can take 12 to 18 hours to soften the leaves. Other methods include oven drying. 

  • Oxidation or fermentation 
    Black tea is the most processed with white being the least processed. 

  • Rolling 
    The tea is moved in circular movements to curl the leaves.  

  • Drying or fixing 
    This process prevents further oxidation and takes out any remaining moisture.  

  • Grading 
    The leaves are sorted into different grades. 

 Teas which don’t come from the Camellia Sinensis plant aren’t classed as true teas. This include Mate and herbal teas.  

Herbal teas are really infusions. They are made from flowers, roots, and leaves, and can have other ingredients added, like blends of herbs.

The Origins of Tea

Teas have been cultivated for almost 5,000 years, dating back to 2,737 BC in China.  

Tea has had a tumultuous history from its introduction to Japan in the early 9th century to becoming a Status Symbol in Europe resulting in an exponential increases in cost.  

Tea became so expensive that pirates started smuggling it during the 18th Century. The tax on tea was amongst one of the reasons for the American Revolution (2).  

As you can see, the history of tea is extremely interesting, and this plant has impacted our world more than we realize! 

Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water. It’s no surprise given its many flavors and health benefits (3).  

Its smell and warmth alone, comforts you. There’s nothing better than a cup of tea made in a traditional cast iron teapot to give you a boost during the day. 

With this being said, let’s get started! 

In this guide, we’ll cover the following types of tea: 

  1. Black Tea 
  2. Green Tea 
  3. Oolong Tea 
  4. White Tea 
  5. Pu’erh Tea 
  6. Yellow Tea 
  7. Mate Tea 
  8. Rooibos 

Different Types of Tea 

There are two varieties of the Camellia Sinesis plant used to make true teas.  

The Camellia Sinesis var. Sinesis is a Chinese variety. It has small leaves and is more tolerant of colder weather.  

The Camellia Sinesis var. Assamica is from the Assam region of northern India and has larger leaves.  

Regardless of the type, we highly recommend buying loose leaf tea! 

And if you don’t have a tea strainer, no worries! Learn how to make loose leaf tea without a strainer...

1. Black Tea 

The Different Types of Tea - Black tea

Black tea is the most oxidized type of tea. This results in a more bitter and bolder taste than other teas… 

A bit like if Brandi Glanville was a tea. 

There is great variety of tea types among the black tea category. 

For example, when it comes to flavor… 

An Assam black tea is bold, strong, rich, and a little malty.  

And a Darjeeling black tea is a little sweet and fruity.  

Black tea is also full of health benefits including: 

  • It can help reduce chronic disease.  Free radicals are molecules that can cause damage to our cells and can cause chronic illnesses. Teas, including black tea, can help neutralize free radicals because of its antioxidant properties (4). 

  • It can lower your risk of cancer particularly certain cancers like breast and lung due to the polyphenols in tea leaves.  

  • A study found that women tea drinkers who had 2.5 cups per day had a 60% reduction in rectal cancer compared with women who drank less tea.  

  • If you consume 3 or more cups of black tea per day it may reduce your risk of heart disease.  
Type of Tea Black
Brewing Temperature 200 - 212 degrees Fahrenheit (93 - 100 degrees Celsius) 
Steeping Time Between 2 – 5 minutes depending on your personal taste. The more you steep it, the stronger and more bitter it is.
Popular Types or Blends Tea varieties include Assam, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Ceylon Black Tea, Kenyan Black Tea, amongst many others! 
Highlights • Caffeine content: High 
• Oxidation Level: High 
• Bold, rich flavor with a hint of bitterness 
• Originally black tea was sourced from China and the Assam area of India but many countries grow it now because it is a hardy plant. Sri Lanka and Kenya are among the top producers.  
• Black tea has no fat, no sodium, or no sugar. It is only 2 calories per 8 oz serving  

2. Green Tea 

The Different Types of Tea - Green tea

Green tea has a slightly floral aroma. Its delicate taste is subtle, but you can add honey to give it sweetness, or lemon for an extra boost of vitamin C.  

Green tea has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties.  

It is one of the least processed and oxidized types of tea, so it retains a lot of the goodness from the tea leaves.  

Also, if you drink green tea, you can be one of those annoying people round the office who thinks they’re so much better than everyone else because everyone else is drinking sugary drinks.  

Green tea health benefits include: 

  • The antioxidants are anti-inflammatory (5). They help cell growth and survival which makes them slow the progress of certain cancers. They are also known as anti-carcinogenic due to this anti-cancer property.  

  • The polyphenols in green tea may be chemo protective for certain cancers of the gut. The polyphenols increase the DNA repair which may suppress tumors and protect your skin from UV damage.  

  • Drinking 5 cups a day of green tea may lower the risk of dementia and parkinson’s disease due to the Theanine (amino acid) that prevents memory decline (6).  

  • Green tea may also help you loose weight. Check our best green tea for weight loss post to learn how!
Type of Tea Green
Brewing Temperature 160 -175 degrees Fahrenheit (71 - 80 degrees Celsius) 
Usually more delicate/higher grade teas fall within the low end of this temperature range. 
Steeping Time 1 to 5 minutes 
Usually more delicate/higher grade teas fall within the low end of this steeping time range. 
Popular Types or Blends Sencha, Matcha, Tencha, Dragonwell, Gyokuro, Gunpoweder tea, Hojicha and many more! 
Highlights • Caffeine content - High 
• Oxidation Level - Low 
• Delicate flavor, some grassy notes.  
• One of the least processed so has lots of antioxidants. 

One of our favorite types of green tea is Sencha. It is the quintessential Japanese green tea, and one of the most popular types of tea in the world! 

If you would like something fresh, go ahead and try this sencha by Chaganju! 

3. Oolong Tea 

The Different Types of Tea - Oolong tea

Oolong tea is not as popular as other teas although it is just as full of health benefits. 

In my opinion, high mountain oolongs are one of the most delicious types of tea.  

If you have not tried, we highly recommend you do! 

There are two different styles of Oolong tea, small wrap-curled oolongs and long strip-style curly oolongs.  

Also, some types of oolong tea are milk oolong tea (Jim Xuan Tea) and high mountain oolong tea (Gaoshan). 

Milk oolong tea was developed in 1980 in Taiwan. This tea type has a light and creamy flavor which is why it is compared to milk but there is no milk in it or in the process of making it.

High mountain oolong has several varieties, grown in the mountains of central Taiwan. The higher altitudes give this type of tea a light and less oxidized taste, making it close to green tea in color and flavor.  

Oolong as a tea is only partially fermented. This of course affects its taste, smell and color!  

The health benefits of oolong tea are: 

  • Just like other teas it contains L-theanine, which affects the area of attention and solving problems in the brain. So, if you find yourself struggling to concentrate at work, a cup of oolong should give you the boost you need to focus.  

  • Oolong has antioxidants like other teas. Less than green tea but more than black tea.  

  • It is good for helping with weight loss as it has zero calories, no fat, carbohydrates, or protein.  

  • Oolong is good for your teeth because it has fluoride which can help prevent cavities (7).  
Type of Tea Oolong
Brewing Temperature 180 - 200 degrees Fahrenheit (80 to 90 degrees Celsius) 
Steeping Time 1 to 5 minutes 
Popular Types or Blends Milk oolong tea (Jim Xuan tea), Tieguanuin Oolong tea, High Mountain or Gaoshan Oolong tea 
Highlights • Caffeine content – Medium of 10-60mg 
• Oxidation Level - Medium 
• Creamy and complex taste 
• Grown in Fujian province of China, from Camellia Sinensis plant called Jim Xuan.  
• The flavor for this tea comes from the cultivar and terroir of where it is grown. 

Since Oolong tea is not as popular in North America, we must insist that you try some if you haven’t yet. Read our green tea vs oolong tea comparison to see how it stacks up!  

4. White Tea 

The Different Types of Tea - white tea

White tea is the least processed of all the true teas, so it retains the most antioxidants. This is why it is considered the healthiest type of tea.  

It is primarily from the Fujian province in China. The leaves are picked before they are fully open, when they are covered in white hairs which is why this type of tea is named white tea.  

It has a delicate flavor and has none of the bitterness of other teas.  

Silver needle is the most popular white tea. The characteristics of silver needle tea are a light, sweet taste, and a beautiful golden color.  

Other white teas, such as white peony are cheaper and stronger. 

White tea health benefits include: 

  • Like all teas, it has polyphenols that are antioxidants that reduce free radicals. 

  • A study on animals showed it helped protect nerve cells from damage and was anti-inflammatory (8). 

  • It may also boost your metabolism by 4-5%, so it can help you burn calories and lose weight (9).  
Type of Tea White
Brewing Temperature 170 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius)
Steeping Time Around 2 minutes 
Popular Types or Blends Silver Needle, White Peony, Tribute Eyebrow, Noble Long Life Eyebrow, DaHoaCha. 
Highlights Caffeine content: Low 
• Oxidation Level: Low 
• A delicate tea with no bitterness. The least processed tea, it is considered the healthiest as it retains a lot of the antioxidants. 

Similarly to Oolong tea, it is probable you have not tried white tea.

5. Pu’erh Tea 

The Different Types of Tea - Pu'erh tea

Pu-erh tea is made from the leaves and stems of the Camellia Sinensis. It originates from Yunnan province in China and is still primarily produced in Yunnan.  

Pu-erh tea is made from the leaves and stems of the Camellia Sinensis. It originates from Yunnan province in China and is still primarily produced in Yunnan.  

  • The leaves of the tree are broad leafed (from the Camelia Sinensis var. Assamica) 

  • The production is exclusive to the Mekong basin, otherwise it is not classed as Pu-erh tea.  

  • The tea leaves are sun dried instead of oven dried 

This type of tea has two stages after processing. The first stage is to spread the leaves on a flat service, wet the leaves, and cover it in cloth. In the second stage it undergoes fermentation and long storage or aging under high humidity, in other words dried in the sun. 

The difference between the pu-erh teas is where it originates and the age of the tea trees (10).  

Some Pu’erh teas like Gushu Pu’erh are made with leaves of 200+ year old tea trees

Health benefits of pu-erh tea: 

  • Pu-erh tea contains a small amount of a chemical called lovastatin. Lovastatins are used in medicine to lower cholesterol.  

    So, pur-erh tea may lower your cholesterol by lowering certain blood fasts and raising good cholesterol.  

  • Pu-erh tea, like all tea has plenty of antioxidants to protect cell damage and aging.  

  • It may help with improving your blood sugar level by introducing healthy probiotics to your gut, which also help manage your hunger and lead to helping you with weight loss. 
Type of Tea Pu-erh 
Brewing Temperature 185-203 degrees Fahrenheit (85-95 degrees Celsius) 
Usually more delicate/higher grade teas fall within the low end of this temperature range. 
Steeping Time For up to 30 seconds, and then add 10 seconds to each subsequent infusion. You can generally get as much at 10 infusions from high quality Pu-erh. 
Popular Types or Blends Sheng cha, Shou cha, Gushu Pu-erh 
Highlights • Caffeine content – Medium, around 30-100mg 
• Oxidation Level - High 
• A rich, dark, and complex tea 
• Pu-erh tea gets is fermented and just like wine, gets better with age

Pu’erh teas are quite unique as they often come as ‘tea cakes’! 

If you are a tea fanatic like us and would like to try Pu’erh tea for your birthday, then do not hesitate to order this beautiful tea cake from Jinglong! 

We are not responsible though if your birthday guests are disappointed when they see this “cake”… 

P.S: It’s not actually a cake, it just looks like one!  

6. Yellow Tea 

The Different Types of Tea - yellow tea

The rarest of teas, it is from the high mountains of Hunan, Zhejiang, and Sichuan provinces in China. 

It dates to the 16th century and was once reserved for emperors because yellow was their color.  

There is another yellow tea from Korea, but experts only consider yellow tea from China to be the original yellow tea. The Korean version is made like an oolong tea and does not involve the same process to produce the yellow color. This leads to a different flavor.  

The process of making this type of tea is a skilled process. It is oxidized at a slower rate to remove the grassy flavor and create a smoother tea.  

It is called yellow tea after its delicate yellow coloring, created during a process called ‘Sealed Yellowing’.  

In this process, polyphenols are oxidized to get the yellow tinge and then treated to preserve the color (11).  

There is a wide variety of yellow teas including Jun Shan Yin Zhen, which is a pretty pale green plant with silvery buds and an aroma a little like melon. Its creamy and light flavored, with hints of sweetness.  

Another popular yellow tea type is the Mo Gan Huang Ya which is rich and mellow. 

Health benefits of yellow tea include: 

  • Containing antioxidants 
  • Contains polyphenols to reduce free radicals which cause chronic illnesses and aging. 
Type of Tea Yellow 
Brewing Temperature 167 degrees Fahrenheit (75 degrees Celsius) 
Steeping Time Around 2 minutes 
Popular Types or Blends Mo Gan Huang Ya and Jun Shan Yin Zhen 
Highlights • Caffeine content – Low 
• Oxidation Level - Medium 
• Smooth texture and fruity aftertaste 
• It is rare because of its labor intensive processing style 

Types of Tea - Herbal Teas 

Herbal teas are infusions more than teas. They are not from the Camellia Sinensis plant, but many people still referred to them as ‘teas’. 

7. Mate Tea 

The Different Types of Tea - Herbal tea

Mate is a traditional South American drink. It is brewed from the dried leaves of a shrub called Ilex paraguariensis, which is related to holly.  

The plant requires specific soil and climatic conditions, so it is only grown in small regions of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil (12).  

Health benefits of mate tea: 

  • As it contains caffeine, it can help boost your mood and your focus, relieve fatigue and ease depression (13). 

  • Mate has become increasingly popular because it’s rich in vitamins, amino acids, and polyphenols (14). 

  • Its antioxidants include Xanthines which is a stimulant. It also has Saponins which have anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering properties.  

  • It can help fight infections due to its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities. 

  • Women who drank at least 1 liter of yerba mate every day for 4 years had less bone loss and a lower risk of osteoporosis (15).  

While it has many health benefits, there has been some concern that it can increase the risk of cancer.  

Some studies have shown that people who drink large amounts of Mate tea over long periods may have an increased risk of certain cancers (16). This may be because it contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are known to cause cancer and are in tobacco smoke and grilled meat. 

So, it should be taken in moderation.  

Like everything in life! 

It’s still popular with footballers who think it helps their performance.  

Don’t expect to suddenly be the next Messi though. I tried drinking lots of mate and well…let’s not talk about my soccer skills… 

There are a few different types of mate tea including Argentinian yerba mate. This is the most popular and easiest to prepare. It can be strong and robust or light and sweet.  

The Paraguaian mate is the smallest producer of mate tea. It is bolder and more complex with salty, sour, nutty, and floral notes. 

Type of Tea Mate
Brewing Temperature 168 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) 
Steeping Time 3 to 5 minutes 
Popular Types or Blends Argentinian yerba mate, Paraguayan yerba mate, Uruguayan yerba mate, Brazillian (chimarrao). 
Highlights • Caffeine content – High, 78mg similar to coffee. 
• Oxidation Level – Medium 
• Can be strong or light and floral and is green 
• Usually served in a gourd with a metal straw with a filter. 

One of the good things about the type of tea is that mate is relatively cheap. Not many people (besides South Americans) have tried this tea type.  

Let us encourage you to try something new! Yerba Mate is relatively cheap! 

Traditionally, mate tea is drunk using a bombilla gourdTo get the full experience, we highly recommend using one! 

I really like this Bombilla Set by Everpure. It has an elegant design…and it’s unbreakable. That is a must for me as I can be quite clumsy… 

8. Rooibos Tea 

The Different Types of Tea - rooibos tea

Pronounced roy-boss, this tea is made from the fermented leaves of the Aspalathus linearis plant. The plant is native to south Africa and produces two different types of tea, red or green.

The difference between the red and green types of tea is the way they are produced. Red tea is harvested and oxidized. The more oxidized it is, the redder it gets. It has a sweet, delicate taste with a tangy finish.  

The green rooibos tea is not oxidized and has a more full-bodied grassy fragrance with a crisp aftertaste. 

Rooibos health benefits: 

  • Rooibos tea has many antioxidants, minerals, fluoride, and copper. It is anti-inflammatory because of the polyphenols. 

  • Rooibos tea has natural ACE inhibitors which are used in medicine to control blood pressure (17).  

  • The tea is also low in tannins. Tannins are compounds found in many plants including black and green tea which interfere with the body’s absorption or iron. So, if you love your tea but are anemic or have other iron deficiency issues then this is a good choice of tea for you.  
Type of Tea Rooibos 
Brewing Temperature 200-212 degrees Fahrenheit (93-100 degrees Celsius) 
Steeping Time Up to 5 minutes 
Popular Types or Blends Red and green 
Highlights • Caffeine content - None 
• Oxidation Level – Low to High depending on blend 
• Sweet and delicate 
• Contains no calories, fat, carbs, or sugar. 

Related Read:

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions – Different Types of Tea

Which types of tea can you grow at home?

You can grow most types of tea at home. The Camellia Sinensis is a hardy plant which can cope with droughts and flooding so it should be an easy plant to grow wherever you live. 

If you like herbal teas, some varieties can grown easily, such as lavender or mint.  

What is the best type of tea to drink while fasting?

Any of the teas are good for fasting because without milk, they are all two calories or less.  

What is the best type of tea to drink while pregnant?

Ginger or peppermint tea is good for sickness, and rooibos tea has lots of antioxidants and no caffeine, so these are a good types of tea to pick. 

However, it is best to check with your doctor before drinking tea if you are pregnant. Some of the teas listed may have contraindications for pregnant or breastfeeding women.  

What type of tea is the healthiest?

Either white or green tea are seen as the healthiest. While all the teas have plenty of health properties, white tea is the least processed, so it retains the most antioxidants. Green tea being the second least processed isn’t far behind it.  

Some herbal teas help with stress and anxiety as well.  

Which type of tea has the most caffeine?

Black, Pu-erh, matcha and mate teas generally have the highest amount of caffeine. It may be best to avoid these nearer bedtime, especially if you have issues with sleep quality. 

Which type of tea is the most acidic?

In general, black teas tend to be the most acidic ones since they have undergone the most oxidization. Read our tea acidity guide to learn more!

Bottom Line 

The Different Types of Tea - field

There are so many different kinds of tea that it is fun to try them all, the same way that there are different types of coffee drinks. Tea is a great alternative to coffee because of its more sustained energy boost and has health benefits.  

Tea can be served hot or cold or even in different boba drinks, so it is great all around.  

Try tasting teas from all over the world while sitting in your living room and watching a Netflix show about types of tea, or while you’re reading this article! 

That’s what I would do! 

Let us know if you try a new tea and love it! 

Happy sipping!  

8 Different Types of Tea - The Ultimate Guide

Nick loves coffee... Actually, he NEEDS coffee! So, he has dedicated his time to learning all he can about this magical bean. He can make a mean latte, is obsessed with flat whites, and is always up for a cup of java!

This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not meant to replace professional medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. Do not consume any type of tea if you are allergic to it. The information in this article is not intended to treat serious medical conditions. Please seek professional medical advice before using home remedies.

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