The world of tea can seem intimidating at times. You’d think it’s just twigs and leaves in hot water, but it turns out there are hundreds or even thousands of different types of tea! This can seem overwhelming, especially if you don’t know your oolong from your gyokuro. But don’t worry, in this series, we will guide you through the different types of tea.
To start, in one of our earlier blogposts, we debunked the myth that different types of tea come from different plants. In fact, all tea comes from the same plant, and the differences in tea types arise from the different processes that the tea plant (camellia sinensis) undergoes. In a nutshell, black teas undergo full oxidation, oolong teas undergo partial oxidation, and green teas undergo steaming or panning to stop the oxidation process.
On that note, let’s proceed!
When most people think of ‘tea’, they think of black teas. One of the most popular types of tea in the world, this fully oxidised tea is characterised by its bold and rich taste.
One interesting fact about black tea is that it actually has two names. While we call it ‘black tea’ in English, the same tea is called hong cha, which translates to ‘red tea’ in Chinese. The difference in names comes from two different ways of looking at the tea – if you look at the tea leaves, they’re black, but if you look at the tea liquor, they’re red.
One of the most popular black teas would be the English Breakfast – the go-to breakfast tea. English Breakfast teas are often a blend of black teas from different regions, such as Brew Me’s English Breakfast – which is a blend of teas from India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Malawi, and China!
Another go-to black tea would be the Earl Grey. Earl Greys are often black teas flavoured with bergamot oil, which lends to its aromatic, citrus flavour. Nowadays, a-typical bergamot-scented Earl Greys are a dime-in-a-dozen. Hence, brands have been creating their own versions of the Earl Grey.
For example, Gryphon’s Earl Grey Lavender is blended with lavender flowers. This fragrant tea has even won 1 star in the Great Taste Awards in 2010. Another Great Taste Awards winner would be The 1872 Clipper Tea Co.’s Timeless Earl Grey – a blend of Ceylon black tea, bergamot oil, cream and cornflower.
One of our favourite black teas would be the darjeeling black tea – from the Darjeeling district in West Bengal, India. Darjeeling is also considered the ‘champagne of teas’, because of its distinctive oolong. Unlike typical black teas, these are not fully oxidised, and is hence more accurately a cross between oolongs and black teas.
Parchmen & Co.’s Goomtea Darjeeling (pictured above) is from the Goomtee Estate, harvested from descendants of Chinese tea trees planted in Darjeeling in the late 19th Century. Theirs is a 2nd flush tea, which basically means it was plucked between June to mid-August; or the second harvest of the year, giving rise to a crimson liquor, often clearer than the first flush.
Black teas can never go wrong, and with such a wide variety, there’s bound to be something for everyone! Shop our extensive range of black teas (or red teas!) here.
Oolongs are a fascinating tea because not only are they basically partially oxidised tea, the oxidisation rates can be anywhere from 20% to 70%. This gives them a wide range of colour, aroma and taste. This means you can spend years exploring the different kinds of oolongs. Famous oolongs include the Dong Ding Oolong, Tie Guanyin, Da Hong Pao, and Rougui, and you can see all that and more on our page dedicated to just oolongs here.
Antea Social, our brand spotlight for the week (you can read our interview with the founder of Antea Social here), has created a collection of 8 oolongs, specially crafted alongside a tea master from China, and we absolutely love her blends!
Use the code “YOUMEANTEA” at checkout for 10% off all Antea Social’s teas, ending this Sunday.
Possibly one of the most common teas in Asia, these teas are not oxidised, with the leaves being either steamed or pan-fried to stop the oxidation process. Japan may be known for their green teas, but they can come from anywhere and the methods of shaping and drying the leaves vary from country and region.
One example of a green tea outside of Japan is the longjing tea (龙井茶), and the best longjing is harvested before the Qing Ming festival. The emphasis on time might sound weird, but timing is everything when it comes to tea – if they’re a few days late, you might as well be drinking grass soup.
Yixing Xuan Teahouse’s Lung Ching produces a lovely clear green cup, with a mellow, vegetal taste.
Another popular green tea is the Jasmine Pearls, which are hand-rolled green teas, scented with jasmine flowers for a light floral scent.
The 1872 Clipper Tea Co.’s green tea might not taste familiar to some, as its green teas are harvested from the plantations of Sri Lanka. Hence, this tea is less ‘light’ than other green teas, with a more astringent aftertaste.
If you need your next green tea fix, check out teapasar’s green tea section here.
If you’re new to the world of tea, these three teas may be easier to find and drink. Stay tuned for our next two posts, where we introduce more interesting types of tea! Any questions? Get in touch on Instagram on Facebook!