Small complete guide to the types of tea

Small complete guide to the types of tea

It’s easy to say tea, but there are many different varieties in the world, each with its own characteristics: let’s see them together in this short list.

While in the East and in some Western countries tea is a ritual, a tradition that carries with it a series of stories, customs, perfumes, recipes and objects, in Italy it is something new. Or rather, tea has been drunk for a long time (the first tea room was born in Rome in 1893) but for many it is still considered only a remedy for stomach ache and flu. Not as a pleasure to be enjoyed at any time of the day, 365 days a year, to start a new day, have an original aperitif or relax in the company of a good book. However, things are changing and, also attracted by the vaunted beneficial properties and the versatility of the leaves, even in our country the consumption of tea is increasing rapidly, especially among young people. 

The (unique) tea plant

So then it is good not to be caught unprepared. The time has come to get to know all types of tea (and more) to find your way around the supermarket or in a specialized shop and go in search of your favorite. In this regard, it is good to remember that there is no different plant for the type of tea, the protagonist is always the same, Camellia Sinensis . A different processing of the leaves of this oriental evergreen tree leads to always new aromas in the cup. Attention: anything that does not derive from the processing of Camellia Sinensis , but from that of other plants, cannot be called tea. D fter this necessary premise, let’s discover together all kinds of teas to learn and try .


  1. Green : full-blown antioxidant is one of the most sought after at the moment, even in the world of cosmetics. Its peculiarity is that it is not oxidized thanks to a thermal process that can be done with dry heat (roasting, especially in China) or moist heat (steaming, especially in Japan). The result is a drink with vegetal notes, which can range from hay to spinach. Contrary to popular belief, green tea is not bitter if prepared correctly: it must in fact be infused at a temperature not exceeding 80-85 ° C or for a maximum time of one minute.
  2. Black : it is what we are most used to thanks to the influence of the Anglo-Saxon tradition and the English 5 o’clock tea. Unlike green tea, it is a completely oxidized tea which in China they call red so as not to confuse it with fermented tea. The leaves are dried, rolled up, left to oxidize and finally dried. Generally, black tea is richer in theine than green tea. It also has a more intense and decisive flavor, with hints that can range from malt to leather, from fruit to cocoa.
  3. White : if you don’t like strong tastes, but prefer delicate flavors with hints of honey and flowers, this is the tea for you. It is a product consisting largely (or totally in the finest versions) of shoots, recognizable by the silver down. There may be slight oxidation but not voluntary and controlled, unlike other Camellia Sinensis products . Don’t be fooled, however, by its soft and mellow taste: this tea has a high theine content, so if you suffer from insomnia, don’t drink it before going to sleep.
  4. Oolong : you can also find wulong written according to the transliteration of the Chinese characters, but the substance does not change. It is a semi-oxidized tea, a tea whose leaves are partially oxidized thanks to the skill and knowledge of professionals in the sector. It is a very interesting type of tea because, depending on the degree of oxidation (from 20 to 80%), it goes from floral flavors to stronger notes of cocoa and dried fruit. In short, it is the tea family that can conquer anyone’s palate.
  5. Fermented : This is what the Chinese call black tea. This is because in the cup it produces a dark liquid, much more than the black (oxidized) tea we talked about earlier. Its flavor is easily recognizable by the notes of undergrowth, not everyone likes it but perfect in combination with dark chocolate, for example. Among these teas, the most famous and valuable is the pu’er . It is a fermented product produced in the Chinese province of Yunnan, from a certain cultivar and, in the final phase of the processing process, its leaves must be dried in the sun.
  6. Matcha : This is perhaps the most popular (and instagrammable) green tea at the moment. Thanks to its lively color and the practicality with which it can be used in the kitchen, from cappuccino to biscuits, from cocktails to ice cream. This is because traditionally it comes in powder or the leaves are slowly stone ground (in the most precious forms, such as ceremonial matcha) or pulverized through specific machines. What we ingest, drinking it, are the actual leaves, not an infusion of them. This is why this tea, symbol of Japan, is a concentrate of the properties of green tea, but be careful, it is particularly rich in theine. Think that it was used by Buddhist monks as a support during long meditations. A kind of Pocket Coffee ante litteram.
  7. Rooibos : incorrectly defined as red tea, it is a very popular drink, even by children, because it is free of theine and has a naturally sweet and soft taste. However, it cannot be called tea because it does not derive from the processing of Camellia Sinensis , but from that of Aspalathus Linearis , a South African shrub. There is, even if it is less common, also the green rooibos in which the leaves are not oxidized and the taste is fresher and less honeyed.
  8. Mate : although an important source of theine, this infusion, like rooibos, is not really a tea. It comes from the processing of the leaves of Ilex paraguariensis , an evergreen holly native to South America. Traditionally it is prepared in a container made from a pumpkin (but today it can also be glass or wood) and is sipped from a metal straw, called bombilla , characterized by a filter at the end. The bitter taste of mate is particularly popular in Latin America, but is slowly conquering drinkers around the world.

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