Health benefits of drinking tea are well-documented. Tea is now a popular beverage drunk throughout the world.
The different types of tea such as green tea, black tea, white tea, yellow tea, oolong tea, puerh tea, scented or flowering tea such as jasmine tea or herbal tea are widely consumed, especially in China.
In fact, tea has been a popular and pleasant beverage in China since the Tang Dynasty (618-906AD). The Chinese love to sip their tea leisurely in a relaxed manner.
It plays an important role in many cultures throughout the world. Drinking tea is intricately woven into their every day lives. It is a way of life. Tea is more than a beverage, it is part of their culture
In ancient Japan, there is even a government post specially created to look after tea plants, an indication that tea is indeed so important in their lives.
Tea is also used in cooking many Chinese dishes, besides being prized as a traditional tonic.
The popular Chinese herbal teas are actually tea leaves mixed with a coarsely ground mixture of herbs, boiled and drunk as tea for various health reasons.
The health benefits of drinking tea depend on the different types of teas and the way you prepare it and of course your overall diet and lifestyle.
So what are the different tea types?
Tea selection is an art within itself. Teas are graded according to their quality and the finest quality teas have the tea leaf tips still intact.
All processed teas are made from the same fresh green leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, in other words, all the different tea types originate from the same evergreen tea shrubs.
Best types of teas
So, let us have a look at the different types of popular tea.
Most of the famous teas are green teas. Green tea is processed from unfermented tea leaves.
After harvesting, green teas are either processed using heat (roasted or pan-fired), pressed or steamed to a high temperature. This preserve the bright green color of the tea leaves.
Pan fired green tea
Examples of famous pan-fired or pressed green teas include the delicate and sweetly aromatic Longjing tea (Dragon well tea) from the Zhejiang province and the rare and famous Pi Luo Chun (Green snail Spring), the mild light green tea with a fruity scent from the Jiangsu province in China.
Steamed green tea
Raw green tea leaves are steamed to prevent oxidation and fermentation. Non-pressurized steaming method is used.
Steaming also helps to preserve the green color of the leaves as well as reducing the grassy odor.
The resulting flavor, color and aroma of the green tea will be influenced by the length of the steaming process.
Famous steamed varieties include the popular and ubiquitous Japanese sencha. Sencha tea are made from the first tender leaves of the tea plant which are harvested in early summer.
Gunpowder tea is a type of green tea where the leaves are withered, steamed and then rolled tightly into a pellet. These pellets will open up when hot water is poured over them.
The whole unfurling process can be so poetically relaxing.
Good quality gunpowder tea uses older tea leaves and the rolled pellets of tea leaves are well-tightened and curled with shining dark green color. The smaller the pellets, the better the quality.
Green tea powder
Matcha tea actually consists of powdered green tea leaves and are drunk by dissolving the powder in water, a very nutritious way to ‘eat’ the tea. It has the highest amount of antioxidants among the green teas.
Organic royal matcha tea from Japan is a fine example of a very high quality organic green tea powder. Hand-picked and made from the finest, youngest leaves or tender tip buds of the first harvesting days in Japan, it is the tea of choice for the sacred Japanese tea ceremony.
Oolong tea (Wu Long Tea)
With tea leaves which are red at the edges and green in the center after brewing, oolong tea displays unique charateristics of both fermented black teas and non-fermented green teas and famous for their complex floral and fruity flavors.
They are semi-fermented teas, with a sweet aroma and low caffeine ( about 10-15% caffeine compared to a cup of coffee).
They have a long history in both China and Taiwan and includes Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) and Taiwan oolong.
These are fully fermented teas. Chinese refer to them as red teas due to their red hue tea color. They are made from whole, unbroken leaves and have a mellow and complex taste.
Popular ones include the Yunnan black tea and Indian Darjeeling teas.
White tea is the least processed of all the teas. Only the newly sprouted closed buds are plucked within 48 hours. Thus, the delicate white tea comprises only the smallest leaves which are plucked only in spring.
Then they are allowed to naturally withered in covered sheds, lightly pan baked or sun-dried. The buds are covered by silvery down and the light yellow tea has a gentle, sweet and full-bodied taste.
Pu erh Tea
Puer tea originates from the Yunnan Province of China and harvested from the big leaf tea bushes.
The tea leaves are compressed into various shapes before aging and fermentation by bacteria.
The longer it is aged, the more valuable it becomes.
The compressed premium pu erh tea cake normally has a looser appearance due to a long period of oxidation resulting in air pockets in between the tightly compressed leaves.
It has an earthy and mellow taste.
Scented or flowering tea
Various types of flowers and fruits are blended with the different types of tea to produce scented, flowering tea.
Jasmine flowers are more commonly used although other flowers such as roses, orchids are also used.
Benefits of tea
So,what are the health benefits of drinking the different types of tea? Is drinking tea good for you? Can you drink tea while pregnant? Read on for the answers on how to reap the health benefits of drinking tea.