Types of Tea
Did you know there are many kinds of tea? Green, black, yellow, white, flowering, herbal, and many more.
Types of Tea
In the next section of this guide, we will cover the various types of tea, both from the Camellia sinensis plant as well as the many herbal varieties.
tea from Camellia Sinensis
Typically the word "tea" refers to all teas from the plant that is most known for producing green and black tea. Depending on the processing method and time of harvest, the following teas all come from the same plant
There is some confusion about the actual definition of "white tea," but it seems the general consensus is that tea from the camellia sinensis plant that has not been dried or fermented, and gone through little, if any processing is white tea.
White tea is also often classified as only made from the smallest buds and young leaves of the tea plant.
The word white comes from the silver-white hairs on the unopened buds of the tea plant. The final brewed liquid comes as a pale yellow/greenish hue similar to a light green tea.
Yellow tea is the rarest tea from the camellia sinensis family of tea.
It's also typically expensive, produced only in China, and is rarely exported from the country. But hey, at least you know it exists!
Green tea is the most talked about version of tea, but it's not the most widely consumed tea in the U.S.
Black tea accounts for about 84% of all American tea consumption according to the Tea Association of the USA.(1)
Learn all about green tea in the next section.
Oolong tea is characterized by its unique production process of withering in sunlight and letting it oxidize to certain levels before curling and twisting the tea.
Black tea is tea that has been more oxidized than green and oolong teas. This produces it's darker color of leaves and brew as well as its distinct deep flavor.
When you drink "iced tea" in the U.S., you are drinking black tea.
Pu-erh is tea taken to secondary oxidation and usually aging beyond what you find in black tea.
It is the "darkest" tea you can find. There are many varieties of pu-erh, ranging in oxidation and aging level and providing unique tasting notes.
Matcha means "fine powder tea" in Japanese and is made by whisking tea powder into a frothy, bright green beverage.
While matcha is a green tea, there are quite a few properties that separate it from traditionally brewed loose leaf green tea.
First of all, when you consume matcha tea, you consume the entire leaf. Compare this to green tea in which you consume only water that is flavored with the leaves through hot or cold extraction.
This is why matcha is like drinking 10 cups of regular green tea in total nutritional content.
Matcha also has unique methods of preparation, such as thick and thin matcha, as well as the matcha ceremony.
We love matcha so much at Wild Foods, it was one of our first products and we dedicated an entire Wild Guide to it. Check out the Wild Foods Guide To Matcha.
All Other Tea
Tea not from the camellia sinensis plant is considered herbal tea.
Some tea purists claim it's not really tea at all because tea is only derived from the camellia sinensis plant.
Any beverage that's delicious and healthy and made by extracting flavor from whole ingredients qualifies as “tea” in our book!
The most popular herbal teas justified their own section in this guide, like rooibos and mate.
First we'll cover the most popular herbal teas before moving to a list of other ingredients commonly used to produce yummy tea-like beverages.
Yerba Mate is a popular drink in South American culture made from the dried stems and leaves of the holly plant named llex paraguariensis.
Due to the unique combination of caffeine, theobromine and theophylline, all of which help promote alertness and concentration, mate is revered as an alternative to coffee and a more powerful drink than green tea.
Learn more in the Yerba Mate section.
Rooibos tea is from a plant native to South Africa and is often referred to as "red tea" due to its red leaves and the red drink it produces.
Rooibos, pronounced roy-bos, means "red bush" in Afrikaans. The plant is a member of the legume family and typically grows in South Africa's Fynbos area full of natural shrubland or heathland.
Rooibos is naturally caffeine-free and full of naturally occurring antioxidants. It is low in tannins compared to regular black and green teas.
Rooibos has high levels of ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C, which is one of the reasons it is recommended as a cold-fighting tea.
Learn more about red tea in the rooibos section.
Honeybush tea is a cousin of Rooibos and native to South Africa. It is named for the smell of its flowers, which have a sweet, honey-like smell.
Honeybush is a newly popular tea, with global production doubling in recent years. This is probably due to how delicious this naturally caffeine-free tea is. (It's one of our favorites!)
Guayusa is our newest herbal tea line, one we are super excited about!
Guayusa, like honeybush, is a newer tea to the global tea market, with global production being zero in 2008 to now around 2 million pounds exported from South America a year.
Because Guayusa is so unique, it's best if you check out the Guayusa guide here to receive the full treatment. Hint: It's worth it!