Tea is the infusion of the leaves of a plant called Camellia sinensis, whose properties were first discovered by the Chinese thousands of years ago. There are many types of tea, which are usually divided by how they are made, the colour, taste and aroma of the infusion, and the country of origin. While the taste of tea is certainly not foreign to you, we believe it is easy to get lost in this huge variety and exotic names.
Six colours of tea. What are the differences? Types and properties
The most popular type of tea, especially in the West, is black tea. It is rich in flavonoids – chemical compounds which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and are responsible for slowing down the ageing process. Many people drink black tea during their diet because it can aid weight loss. It is believed black tea has a positive effect on the digestive system and can support the stimulation of blood circulation. During the production of black tea, the leaves are gathered from the shrubs and left to wither, then curled, fermented and finally dried. Its varieties are named after the regions they come from: Yunnan from China, Assam and Darjeeling from India and Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka. There are also several popular blend, e.g. English Breakfast Tea – an intense tea, similar in its effect to coffee and Earl Grey – flavoured with bergamot oil.
Although it is not as popular worldwide as black tea, in Asian countries it ranks first. The dried tea comes from the same plant species as black tea, but the leaves are not fermented so that more of its valuable components remain. For this reason, it is considered to be the healthiest tea of all types. It has a purifying effect, improves and speeds up metabolism, thanks to which it is often included in diets of people who want to lose weight. Its taste is milder than black tea, but more bitter. The infusion has a greenish colour. In China and Japan, countries which specialise in the cultivation and production of green tea, there are many types known, such as genmaicha, gunpowder, sencha or matcha.
This variety of tea is made in China and is the mildest of all types of tea. It is made from the buds and leaves of Camellia sinensis, which are harvested in the early spring and then dried in the sun using a natural method. Like a green tea, it contains polyphenols which have a beneficial effect on the human body. Despite its name, the brew made from white tea is not white – it has a very light, pale yellow colour. It has a delicate taste and no bitterness.
Also called “imperial tea”. It is said that it was first created during the Qing dynasty in China and was reserved exclusively for the emperor, and anyone who dared to drink it was punished with death. It is not entirely clear whether the tea we now call “yellow tea” is the same one that was created in the old days. Its original recipe has been lost over the centuries. Due to the fact that the production is complicated, this tea is considered to be of high quality, very exclusive. It has a delicate taste, with a slight bitterness and sweetness. The colour of the infusion is yellow.
Blue tea – oolong
Also called “turquoise” or “emerald tea”. It owes its name to the slightly blue colour of the dried tea consisting of fermented leaves of Camellia sinensis. The infusion is similar in colour to green tea, but more yellow. The flavours vary depending on how it is produced – creamy, floral or buttery. Blue tea is mainly produced in China and Taiwan.
Red tea – Pu-erh
In China, it is called “dark tea” and its name comes from the Pu’er region in the Yunnan province in the south of the Middle Kingdom. Depending on how it is produced, there are two types – Sheng and Shu. Sheng is seasoned for a long time, even up to several decades. Its infusion has a yellowish colour. The second production method involves artificially ageing the tea. The dried tea prepared in this way has a brown colour and the infusion is dark, reminiscent of coffee. It is believed that red tea has the best weight loss effect of all, although this is obviously a question of many other factors.