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Know Your Tea! Black, Green, White, Yellow… What’s The Difference?

What do you really know about tea? If you’ve ended up here then chances are your tea knowledge is lacking somewhat. We get it, you want to find out more about that lovely brew you enjoy sipping every day. What type of tea is it? Is it even tea at all? Rest assured, after reading this you’ll know your tea just as well as you know your coffee!

Tea or Tisane? It’s Not a Trick Question!

Let’s clear one thing up straight from the get-go. If a ‘tea’ is not made with actual leaves from the  Camellia sinensis plant, then technically it’s not a tea at all. “No way!” you might say, but it’s true. 

Nowadays the word tea is attached to all sorts of beverages, from a warm cup of chamomile to a bottle of iced hibiscus and vanilla. But these herbal and fruit infusions are exactly that, an infusion. And that’s where the word ‘tisane’ comes from, it’s French for infusion. Who knew such a fancy word could mean something so simple?

But enough of this pedantic examination. Who even says tisane anyway? Apart from the French of course. The way it is, everybody (including us at Doubleshot) use the word ‘tea’ to describe all sorts of crackpot and mind-blowing brews, so let’s stick with it! (If you have an issue with our use of the French language, please contact our French correspondent Monsieur Je ne parle pas Français for more information.)

Just How Many Types of Tea are Out There? Here’s Six to Start!

So, let’s move on to the different types of teas out there. Besides from the plethora of infusions (including your rooibos and yerba mate!), all teas begin life as the same humble leaf, painstakingly clipped from the very tips of the branches. Once these have been harvested from the Camellia sinensis plant, what happens next determines what type of tea it becomes. So without further ado, we’re going to look at the six main tea variants – GET EXCITED!!!

White Tea – Virgin Brew

The least processed of all the teas, white tea is simply left to dry after it has been picked from the plant. It has light and delicate taste when unchanged by any other flavours. A cup of white tea will also deliver the highest concentration of antioxidants to the drinker when compared to other tea types.

Just be careful not to guzzle it down all at once to grab those oh so delicious antioxidants. After some personal experience, rather wait for it to cool down a bit. Anyone have some good burnt tongue remedies?

Green Tea – Wellbeing Booster

The perennially popular green tea is highly regarded as a beverage packed full of health benefits. Once the tea leaves have been plucked they are quickly steamed or fired at a high temperature, then rolled or pressed. Many different subtle flavours are achieved with slight changes in this process.

Know your tea

If only your life were as grand as that of the humble green tea leaf. After a long day of some very productive photosynthesizing, being plucked and placed in a steam room and then a complementary massage. Life could not get better for this green guy. 

Oolong Tea – Caught in the Middle

Sitting in between green and black tea, oolong tea is often described as partially oxidised. But what does that mean? Well, for a start it’s not French, so you don’t have to revert back to Monsieur Je ne parle pas Français for any help with this one. In fact, this is actually more on the sciency side of things. Essentially, the leaves are bruised a little before being subjected to the heating process.

Know yoru tea

In other words, this tea is as nerdy as it gets! Just like your quintessential geeky nerd from school, who loves science and gets beaten and bruised on the daily, this tea is a geek reincarnated into the perfect beverage. There’s a whole spectrum of different oolong teas, with lighter and darker ones, ranging from floral to nutty tastes.

Black Tea – Your Classic Cuppa

If you’ve only ever tried one type of tea, chances are it is black tea. If this is the case, you really need to expand your horizons! This tea type is fully oxidised, so there’s no heating process like with green and oolong tea. The leaves are cut, rolled, and dried, a process that helps to draw out rich flavour, ranging from malty Assam to fruity Keemum.

Yellow Tea – The Golden One

Yellow tea has much in common with its green-coloured compadre. I mean if you look past the little bit of blue in his family tree from way back when, then they are basically the same!

Yellow Tea

The leaves are subjected to heat soon after being picked, but at a lower temperature and for a shorter time than green tea. The big difference is the wrapping. This involves the leaves being bundled up in a cloth or sometimes paper and left to ferment slightly before being dried. 

Pu-erh Tea – Aged Like a Fine Wine

Also called fermented tea or simply dark tea (but not to be confused with black tea), pu-erh tea is the result of a microbial fermentation process. And once again we’re back to the science! The tea leaves are steamed and packed together, then micro-organisms grow throughout the trapped moisture and react with chemicals within the tea. Fermenting can last anything from a few weeks to years depending on the desired taste!

And There’s Even More to Tea Than This…

We’ve just skimmed the surface of the wonderful world of tea here. In fact each one of these different types of tea deserves its very own write-up. But hopefully you know more now than you did five minutes ago when you arrived 😉

If you’re intrigued by what we do here at Doubleshot, check out our Brew Guides. It’s where we let our tea alchemist minds run wild and share the very best of our concoctions with like-minded people just like you!

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