Besides water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. There are countless companies devoted entirely to tea, but did you know that all types of tea come from one plant? That plant is Camellia sinensis. What makes one tea type different from another is oxidation.
Green tea has the least amount of oxidation of all tea types, which makes sense. It’s the healthiest type of tea you can drink. Chinese green tea is mild and fruity, while Japanese green tea is often made stronger. Matcha, which is trending now, is actually a powdered form of special tea leaves grown especially for the purpose. Green teas should be steeped in 180-degree water or less for 1 minute.
You get oolong tea when you oxidize tea leaves for a little while, but not so long that they become black tea. The exact length of time varies depending on who is making the tea. The flavor can be light and floral, grassy, or even sweet and toasty. Brew oolong at 190-195 degrees for 1-5 minutes.
White tea is unique because you actually pluck the leaves when they are very young and haven’t turned green yet. This results in a very mild, light, sweet tea. It requires the most care, and shouldn’t be boiled above 160-degrees.
You get black tea when the tea leaves are more heavily oxidized. Depending on the level of oxidation, black tea can be smoky, sweet, malty, or even light and fresh. China, India, and Sri Lankan are all known for their black teas. For the best black tea, steep for just 1 minute at 212-degrees.
The most oxidized tea, and then sometimes even aged for many years, pu-erh is for real tea lovers. The flavor can vary dramatically from sweet to floral, woodsy, sour, or mild. The flavor also changes as the tea gets older. Brew pu-erh like you would black tea.