Whether you prefer a freshly steeped cup of hot tea or a refreshing glass of iced tea, you are one of the millions of people worldwide that appreciate this drink. Tea is consumed around the world as part of rituals and traditions in many cultures, from China’s green tea to Britain’s black teas. Scholars believe tea originated around 2727 BC in South West China as a solely medicinal drink. Today it’s enjoyed for both its taste and health benefits.
There are a wide variety of types and flavors of teas that can be enjoyed both hot and cold. The vast number of choices range from dark and spicy to light and fruity. Worldwide, the most popular tea types include White, Green, Oolong, and black.
All four kinds of tea are derived from parts of the Camellia Sinensis plant. This is an evergreen shrub that grows in the mountainous regions of the world including China, India, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Korea.
Although the teas are from the same plant, their level of richness depends on the amount of oxidation or processing the leaves are put through. Oxidation is a natural chemical reaction in the tea leaves that are caused by specific enzymes in the plant.
Teas have been shown to have several health benefits. This is due to the high level of antioxidants found in the plant. Antioxidants are shown to reduce inflammation, fight free-radicals, and slow metabolism. The benefits of antioxidants include helping to improve heart and brain health, lowering blood sugar, preventing certain cancers, fighting gingivitis and tooth decay, and weight loss.
If you are concerned about your caffeine intake, tea has less than coffee. An average cup of black tea, which has the highest amount of caffeine per cup for regular teas, has about half the amount of caffeine than a regular cup of coffee.
Types of Tea
White tea is the mildest tasting out of the four types of tea. It also is the least oxidized or processed. This tea is made from the new growth buds and young leaves on the Camellia Sinensis plant. There are tiny silver hairs that cover the growth buds giving the plant a white appearance, and the tea its name. After the buds and leaves are picked, they are steamed or fried to stop the natural oxidation process quickly.
With minimal processing white tea has the highest level of antioxidants than other teas and the least amount of caffeine. An average cup of white tea contains approximately 30 to 50 milligrams of caffeine.
Green tea is one of the most widely known teas. This type of tea is processed a bit more than white tea. It’s made from the leaves of the plant that are not withered or started to oxidize. A cup of green tea has on average 30 to 75 milligrams of caffeine per cup. Adding lemon to your green tea increases the health benefits, and adds a bit of citrusy flavor.
Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea. The leaves are partially oxidized and have a flavor between an earthy green tea and a hearty black tea. The caffeine level of a cup of Oolong tea is more than green tea but less than black tea. Korean Black Tea is similar to a Oolong Tea.
Black tea is probably the best-known tea in the United States. It’s often combined with other plants to create variations of the flavor. Favorite black teas include Earl Grey, English Breakfast, and Chai.
The flavor of black tea is the strongest out of the four and has the most caffeine per cup. It is created with the leaves of the plant in a four-step process: withering, rolling, oxidation, and firing.
Like wine, black tea has different levels of richness due to the many different regions it’s grown and made in. Three of the most well-known varieties of black tea include Assam Black, Darjeeling, and Sri Lankan Ceylon. Assam black has a full-bodied and malty aroma. Darjeeling is floral and fruity. Sri Lankan Ceylon black tea has a level of essence that varies depending on the location the leaves are grown.
Tea is a drink that is not only for relaxing and enjoying but includes a multitude of purported health benefits from cancer prevention to helping with weight loss. Whether you prefer a rich black tea or an earthy green tea, there is a tea that fits your unique tastes. There is a wide variety of flavors and types to choose from including the world’s most popular tea types-white, green, oolong, and black.