Types of Tea: Basic Tea Overview

The tea which most people drink is black tea; this is the type of tea that brands such as PG Tips, Tetley and Typhoo use to create their blends of tea. It is usually enjoyed with just a splash of milk and perhaps a little sugar, depending on personal preference. When buying tea in a cafe or restaurant, unless otherwise stated, it will be black tea that is served.

Green tea is the one best known for its health benefits. It can be bought plain or as infusions, for example, green tea and lemon flavour. Some people find infusions a little more palatable, as green tea can have a grassy taste. Green tea is usually not taken with milk, but sweeteners such as honey are common. Because of its massive array of health benefits, green tea is more than just a refreshing drink.

Oolong tea is semi-oxidised, so sits somewhere between green tea and black tea, although varieties can vary. The taste of Oolong is unique, it is very delicate, and like green tea is taken usually without milk but can be sweetened to taste. While not as common as black or green tea, it is possible to buy Oolong tea as a bag or leaf variety in many of the major supermarkets.

White tea is the mildest and least processed of the teas. The flavour is so subtle that no additions (milk or sweeteners) are required to enjoy it. Perhaps the best part of white tea is that it is packed full of antioxidants and has a low caffeine content, making it one of the healthiest teas available. While tea tends to only have about 50% of the caffeine content of coffee, those who are looking to make small changes to their caffeine intake should really give white tea a try.

Pu-erh tea is perhaps the lesser known of all the basic tea types. It is a wild tea, so rather than coming from cultivated bushes, it comes from trees. It has a distinctly earthy, natural taste and can be bought in both a green tea or black tea variety. Some supermarkets may sell a limited choice of Pu-erh, but speciality tea shops are more likely to stock it. For tea aficionados, it is well worth trying.