Types of Tea: Everything You'll Want To Know

By Bridget Reed
Medically Reviewed by:

Heidi Wright, BSN, RN, PCCN, and Certified Master Herbalist

Types of Tea: Everything You'll Want To Know

May 02, 2024

At Herbaly, we’re passionate about unpacking the wonders of tea, a simple beverage steeped in complex traditions and varieties. 

From the soothing calm of freshly brewed green tea to the invigorating kick of a strong black tea, every cup offers a sip of history and culture. 

Join us as we unravel the essence of tea, exploring its rich origins, its vibrant present, and how this ancient brew continues to captivate taste buds around the globe.

What Exactly Is Tea?

Tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. This single plant is the mother of all traditional tea varieties, but not all hot brews we call "tea" come from it. 

True teas, including green, black, white, and oolong, share this common botanical origin and differ mainly in how they’re processed after harvesting. The journey from leaf to cup involves various techniques like oxidation, heating, and drying, which influence the tea’s final flavor and appearance. 

On the other hand, herbal infusions, often categorized as teas, are blends of different botanicals, offering a spectrum of flavors and benefits without the caffeine punch. 

Why Are There So Many Different Types of Tea?

Wondering why the tea aisle seems endlessly diverse? The variety in tea types stems from a fascinating interplay of geography, tradition, and innovation. Each type of tea, from the vigorous black teas of India to the delicate white teas of China, is a reflection of the unique climate and terrain where its leaves are grown. These environmental factors, combined with specific cultivation practices, set the stage for the distinctiveness found in each leaf.

The processing methods — whether leaves are crushed, torn, oxidized, or immediately dried — further define each tea's identity. Oxidation, for example, can transform the fresh, green leaves of the tea plant into deeply flavorful black tea, changing both the color and the taste profile dramatically. Additionally, cultural heritage plays an important role; tea-making techniques passed down through generations can vary significantly from region to region, contributing to the wide array of teas we enjoy today. 

Innovators in the tea industry continue to experiment, blending traditional types with modern twists to create new and exciting varieties. This combination of nature, nurture, and human creativity is why the world of tea is as vast and varied as it is.

What Are the Main Types of Tea?

Now that we’ve explored what tea is and its diverse landscape, let’s zero in on the main characters in the story of tea. Whether you’re brewing a cozy mug on a rainy day or pouring a refreshing glass over ice, each type of tea offers a unique experience.

Green Tea

This is your go-to when you want something light but invigorating. Green tea leaves skip the oxidation process, which keeps them green and gives them a slightly grassy, often bittersweet flavor. If you’ve heard of matcha, that’s green tea too, just ground into a fine powder that packs a real punch.

Black Tea

Think of black tea as the bold, outgoing sibling in the family. It’s fully oxidized, which makes it darker and richer in flavor. From the robust malty notes of an Assam to the fragrant allure of Earl Grey, black tea is what many reach for when they need a hearty wake-up call.

Oolong Tea

Oolong is the intriguing middle ground between green and black tea. Partially oxidized, this tea is all about complexity. You can find oolong teas that are light and floral, or dark and woody, each batch offering something surprisingly different.

White Tea

Delicate and subtle, white tea is the gentle whisper among the shouts. It’s the least processed type, made from young leaves and buds. White tea is known for its light, sweet flavor, making it perfect for a quiet afternoon.

Pu-erh Tea

This one’s for the adventurous tea drinker. Pu-erh is aged and fermented, which gives it a deep, earthy base that can really stand out in your tea collection. It’s often sipped for its reputed health benefits as much as for its unique taste.


Also known as red tea, rooibos comes from South Africa and is naturally caffeine-free. It has a sweet, nutty flavor that makes it a popular choice for those looking to reduce their caffeine intake but still enjoy a flavorful cup.

What Are Some Popular Tea Blends and Infusions?

Herbal tea blends and infusions are where creativity meets tradition in the world of tea. These combinations not only enhance flavors but also introduce a symphony of aromas and health benefits. Here’s a rundown of some popular tea blends and herbal infusions that have captured the hearts of tea drinkers worldwide.

Chai (Masala Chai)

This rich Indian blend has traversed global borders with its aromatic mix of black tea and spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Brewed with milk and sweetened often with sugar or honey, chai is both comforting and invigorating.

Earl Grey

Known for its distinctive flavor of bergamot orange, Earl Grey is a staple in many households. This black tea blend is perfect for those who appreciate a citrusy zest in their cup.

English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast

These coveted blends of black teas, such as Assam, Ceylon, and Kenyan teas, are designed to kickstart your day. They are strong enough to hold up to milk and sugar, making them a hearty choice for the first meal of the day.

Sencha With Matcha

A vibrant blend that combines the delicate flavors of sencha, a Japanese green tea, with the powerful punch of matcha powder. This mix not only deepens the flavor profile but also boosts the antioxidant content.

Mint Tea

Often made from peppermint or spearmint, mint tea is refreshing and cooling. It's popular not just for its flavor but also for its reputed digestive benefits.

Hibiscus Tea

Vibrant in color and tart in taste, hibiscus tea is a favorite for its fruity flavor and health perks. It’s often enjoyed cold, served with a slice of lemon for an extra zing.

Yerba Mate

Known for its grassy flavor and energizing properties, yerba mate is a South American herb that’s often sipped from a traditional calabash gourd. It's a social beverage, reflecting a rich cultural ritual.

Herbaly's Functional Teas

And finally, we have our Functional Teas. Crafted for optimal health, each blend is infused with natural ingredients like Sencha, chamomile, fennel seed, and turmeric root, designed to support vitality and wellness throughout your busy day.

What Are Some Do's and Don'ts for Tea?

As you dive into the vibrant world of tea, understanding the do's and don'ts can enhance your experience and appreciation of each brew. 

Whether you’re savoring a cup of your favorite herbal blend or exploring other varieties, here are some tips to get the most out of your tea time.

Do: Choose the Right Water

The base of any good cup of tea is the water used. Always aim for fresh, filtered water when brewing your tea. Hard water can affect the taste and clarity of the final cup, masking the delicate flavors of your tea.

Don’t: Overboil the Water

For the perfect cup, pay attention to the temperature. Green teas like our sencha should never be made with boiling water, as this can burn the leaves and bring out a bitter taste. Similarly, delicate white teas are best brewed with water at 160-185°F to preserve their subtle flavors.

Do: Mind the Steeping Time

Steeping your tea for the right amount of time is crucial to avoid over-extraction. A general rule is 3-5 minutes for black teas, 2-3 minutes for green teas, and up to 7 minutes for herbal infusions. Remember, the longer you steep, the stronger and potentially more bitter your tea will become.

Don’t: Squeeze the Tea Bag

If you’re using tea bags, resist the urge to squeeze them after steeping. Squeezing the bag can release more tannins, making the tea taste more astringent and less pleasant. Instead, just give the tea bag a gentle shake before removing it from your cup.

Do: Store Your Tea Properly

Keep your teas fresh and flavorful by storing them in airtight containers away from light, moisture, and strong odors. Loose leaf teas, especially those that are part of your daily ritual like our blended teas, deserve careful handling to maintain their aromatic qualities.

Don’t: Ignore the Caffeine Content

“Be mindful of the caffeine content in your teas, especially if you are sensitive, have a known heart condition, or are consuming tea late in the day,” notes Melinda Hany, Registered Nurse. 

Our herbal selections, like the caffeine-free rooibos, offer a fantastic alternative with all the ritual and relaxation of tea, minus the stimulant.

Do: Experiment With Flavors

Don’t be afraid to mix and match your teas with other herbs, spices, or even fruits to create your own custom blends. Adding ginger, cardamom, or even a splash of lemon to a brewed tea like our Heart Functional Tea can transform your tea experience.

A Final Word

Thanks for journeying with us through the intricate world of teas, from the verdant fields of Camellia sinensis to your very own cup. At Herbaly, we blend tradition with innovation to craft teas that do more than just refresh; they enhance your wellness journey. 

Whether you're steeping a black tea to start your day or unwinding with our calming Wellness Functional Tea, each sip is a step towards a healthier, more flavorful life. 

Dive deeper into our collection and find your perfect tea blend — because every cup is a new discovery.


Tea | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The science of tea | Science Learning Hub

Health Benefits and Chemical Composition of Matcha Green Tea: A Review | PMC

Science-Backed Benefits Of Peppermint Tea And Extracts | Forbes

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