Embark on a flavorful journey as we explore 15 different types of tea, showcasing the diverse range of this widely loved beverage!
Tea is one of the most beloved beverages in the world and has a rich history that spans centuries and continents. From its origins in ancient China to its global popularity today, tea has evolved into a diverse range of flavors, aromas, and brewing techniques.
Today we are going to look at some of the most popular, and well also a few unusual varieties of tea. So whether you are a tea lover or a brewer of kombucha there is likely some new type of tea here awaiting your personal trial.
History of Tea
The history of tea goes back to ancient China, where it was discovered over 5,000 years ago. Legend has it that Emperor Shen Nong accidentally brewed tea when leaves fell into his boiling water. Tea was initially used for medicinal purposes and was consumed in compressed forms with added ingredients like ginger or orange peel.
During the Tang Dynasty, tea became popular among the Chinese elite and began to be enjoyed for its taste and brewing process. Tea cultivation spread to Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, where it evolved into a revered practice known as the Japanese tea ceremony.
Tea also made its way to Europe through trade, introduced by the Dutch East India Company. It became a fashionable drink for the European aristocracy. The British East India Company played a crucial role in popularizing tea in Britain and its colonies, turning it into a symbol of wealth. With improved shipping, tea became more affordable, and its consumption expanded.
The Industrial Revolution brought mechanized tea production (and the invention of tea bags!), making it more accessible to a wider population. Faster transportation methods like steamships and railways facilitated global tea trade, and tea plantations were established worldwide. Today, the largest tea producers include China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.
Types of Tea Most Commonly Used in Kombucha
There are some teas that are much better for brewing kombucha than others. Check out the Best Teas For Kombucha for more on each, but in general they are:
Black tea is the most commonly consumed type of tea worldwide and is known for its bold, robust flavor and dark color. The leaves of black tea are fully oxidized, which gives them their distinctive taste and aroma. Black tea is often drunk with milk and sugar, and it is the base for many classic tea blends such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey.
Some other varieties of black tea include: Assam, Darjeeling, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Rukeri, Pu-Erh, Scottish Afternoon, Irish Breakfast, Milima, Golden Tips, Temi Sikkim, Nimbu, Chai, and others.
Green tea is known for its delicate flavor and fresh, grassy aroma. It is made from the leaves of Camellia Snensis, the same plant used to produce other types of tea. However, unlike black or oolong tea, green tea is minimally oxidized. Stopping the oxidation process helps to preserve its natural green color and retain its subtle flavors.
There are various types of green tea, including Japanese matcha, Chun Mee, Chinese Dragonwell, Jasmine, Anji Bai Cha, Maojian, Hojicha, Kukicha, Bancha, Genmaicha, Konacha, Moroccan Gunpowder, and others. Each of these has its own unique characteristics. Most Green tea is produced in China and Japan.
Unlike the types of tea mentioned above, herbal teas (or tisanes) are not made from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis, but rather from various herbs, spices, flowers, and fruits. Herbal infusions offer a wide range of flavors, aromas, and health benefits, and they are often enjoyed for their soothing and calming effects.
Some popular herbal teas include Chamomile, Peppermint, Hibiscus, Lavender, Licorice, Olive Leaves, Turmeric, and Rooibos tea among many others.
White tea is the least processed among all the types of tea, and it is known for its delicate and subtle flavor profile. The leaves of white tea are minimally oxidized and withered, which results in a light and refreshing taste. White tea is often characterized by its silver-white buds and young leaves, and it is usually brewed at lower temperatures for a shorter duration compared to other types of tea.
Some popular varieties of white tea include Silver Needle, White Peony, Shou Mei, Gong Mei, and Darjeeling White.
Other Types of Tea
But of course, there are virtually thousands of types of tea in the world. While they’re not all suitable for kombucha brewing, they are delicious on their own!
Butterfly Pea Flower Tea
Let’s start with a tea that is sure to catch your eye with its vibrant blue hue. Butterfly pea flower tea is made from the petals of the Clitoria Terna tea plant, also known as Asian pigeonwings or butterfly pea flowers. When steeped in hot water, the petals release their natural blue pigment, creating a mesmerizing blue tea that can be enjoyed hot or iced. Besides its stunning appearance, butterfly pea flower tea is also known for its potential health benefits as it is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. (Learn how to make butterfly pea flower kombucha here).
Guayusa tea is a traditional beverage that is native to the Amazon rainforest. It is made from the leaves of the Ilex guayusa tree, which is a close relative of yerba mate. Guayusa tea has a smooth, earthy flavor with a slightly sweet aftertaste. It is often enjoyed in the morning as a way to provide energy and focus which most of us seek in the morning. Some people also find that guayusa has a calming effect, which can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
If you’re a fan of smoky flavors, then Lapsang Souchong is a tea you must try. Hailing from the Wuyi Mountains in China, Lapsang Souchong is a black tea that is dried over pinewood fires, giving it a distinct smoky aroma and flavor. Legend has it that this tea was discovered by accident during the Qing Dynasty when the tea leaves were left to dry over a fire, and the unique smoky taste was born. Lapsang Souchong is a bold and robust tea that is often enjoyed with milk or as a base for smoky tea-infused cocktails.
While matcha has gained popularity in recent years, it is still considered an unusual type of tea due to its unique production process and distinctive flavor. Matcha tea is a powdered green tea that is made from shade-grown tea leaves that are ground into a fine powder. The leaves are shaded from sunlight before harvesting, which increases their chlorophyll content and gives matcha its vibrant green color. Matcha has a rich umami flavor with a slight bitterness and is traditionally prepared by whisking the powdered tea with hot water to create a frothy and creamy beverage. It is also used in cooking and baking, adding a unique flavor and color to various recipes.
Mate tea is a traditional beverage that is popular in South America, particularly in Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. It is made from the leaves of the yerba mate tree, which is a type of holly. Mate tea has a bitter, earthy flavor that is often described as an acquired taste. It is traditionally consumed from a gourd with a metal straw called a bombilla.
Also known as Wulong or Wu long tea, oolong is a partially oxidized tea that falls between green tea and black tea in terms of oxidation levels. This gives oolong tea a unique flavor profile that varies depending on the degree of oxidation, ranging from light and floral to rich and fruity. Oolong tea is often associated with Chinese and Taiwanese tea traditions, and some popular types of oolong tea include Tie Guan Yin, Da Hong Pao, and Oriental Beauty.
Pu-erh tea is a type of fermented tea that is known for its distinctive flavor and aroma. It is produced in the Yunnan province of China and is aged for several years, which gives it a unique character that develops over time. Pu-erh tea can be either raw (sheng) or ripe (shou), with raw pu-erh having a more pronounced and complex flavor profile, while ripe pu-erh is milder and smoother. Pu-erh tea is often compressed into cakes or bricks and is prized for its potential health benefits.
Purple tea is a type of tea that comes from a unique cultivar of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Unlike other types of tea, purple tea leaves have a purple tint due to the high concentration of anthocyanins in the leaves. Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid that have been linked to a range of health benefits, including reduced inflammation and improved heart health. Purple tea is grown primarily in Kenya, where it has gained popularity in recent years due to its unique flavor and potential health benefits. The tea has a light, floral flavor with a slightly sweet aftertaste. It is also low in caffeine, making it a good choice for those who are sensitive to caffeine.
Yellow tea is a type of Chinese tea that is known for its unique flavor profile and delicate aroma. It is a type of partially fermented tea that is processed using a unique technique that involves wrapping the tea leaves in a cloth and allowing them to slowly ferment and turn yellow. This process results in a tea that is milder in taste than green tea, but richer than white tea. Yellow tea is also known for its health benefits, as it is rich in antioxidants and has been shown to have a positive effect on digestion.
First let’s just say you can drink any tea you want at breakfast (there are no rules to this), but most teas labeled “Breakfast Tea/Blend” are black teas of small particle size that steep up quickly, strong, deliver lots of caffeine, and can take cream and sugar without turning into watered down skim milk.
It’s like morning coffee for those who don’t like coffee. These blends often feature teas from the Assam region of India, Ceylon teas (Sri Lanka) and African teas since they tend to have brisk, earthy characteristics. The small particle size will make sure the cup steeps up strong and full-bodied quickly and delivers as much of its caffeine into the cup as possible.
Masala chai (or most often shortened to “chai” in America) is the traditional drink of India and is defined as a blend of black tea, milk, sugar, and spices. There is no exact recipe for how to make this, but all include those four ingredients. The word “Masala” means “blend of spices” and the ones most commonly used are ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and clove (though there are many others that might be included). In its most traditional form, the black tea, sugar, and spices are boiled in water. Then milk is added, boiled again, strained and served.