There are dozens of different teas. Anything that can be steeped and consumed is usually labelled as “tea”, but in actual fact the exact definition of the word typically excludes most of these. So with that in mind, just what are the different types of tea and their health benefits?
The most commonly consumed tea around the world, black tea is made from fermented camellia sinensis leaves. It is full of tannins, which give it a strong flavor, and it is also loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which means it can provide an array of health benefits. There are also minerals like manganese and copper.
Black tea that has been compacted into a cake/ball and aged for longer periods of time is known as Pu’erh Tea, while black tea that is flavored with bergamot oil is known as Earl Grey.
Before the camellia sinensis leaves are fermented to make black tea, they can be sold fresh in order to make green tea. There are not as many tannins, the flavor is not as strong or diverse and it doesn’t contain as many antioxidants or caffeine. However, it does contain more of a very specific antioxidant known as EGCG, which has been linked to weight loss, anti-inflammation, and many other health benefits.
When the leaves are chopped up into a fine powder and consumed whole, it’s known as Matcha Tea.
When the camellia sinensis leaves have not yet reached maturity they can be plucked as buds and then dried. This is white tea. The flavor is more similar to green tea than black tea, but it has a straw-like color, a nuttier taste and doesn’t have as many antioxidants or health benefits as either of the other two forms.
It does have its own unique properties though and White Tea is a very powerful life-extending detox tea in its own right.
Fruit teas are teas made from a combination of dried fruits and flowers. These can include everything from orange and lemon peel to hibiscus, blackcurrants, cranberries and more. Fruits with very strong flavors are often preferred as only a small amount of these are needed to impart an enjoyable taste.
As far as health benefits go there are very few. These teas tend not to use a lot of the fruit, so even though they leech the oils and vitamins out of them, there just isn’t enough to make a difference. A strong fruit tea, however, can be a great way to hydrate and get some additional nutrients.
This is technically not a tea as it doesn’t use camellia sinensis leaves. Instead it uses one of two shrubs, Honeybush or Rooibos. Both of these are native to South Africa and both provide a flavor that is close to black tea, albeit with a fruitier, sweeter taste.
Red tea, like black tea, is full of antioxidants, but it does not contain caffeine so it is a great alternative for anyone with a caffeine sensitivity.
“Herbal teas” is an all encompassing name. They are given this name when they do not contain camellia sinensis leaves and they tend to use plants, herbs and other plant materials. They provide benefits based on the type of substance being used, which can range considerably.