Tea is one of the oldest beverages on earth and one of the most highly valued, too. Originally grown in the region that is now China, the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) has spread over the century. Today it is cultivated in China, Japan, India, and beyond. For centuries tea has been prized for its restorative properties and its overall curative powers. Thanks to a number of sophisticated and delicious varieties and blends, it is possible to enjoy a different beverage whenever you want. These are six tea varieties that you can use every day to improve your mood, boost your metabolism, improve your health, and calm your mind.
1. White Tea
The youngest, most tender leaves of the plant are harvested in order to create white and yellow varieties. White tea is the most minimally processed of all tea varieties. The harvested leaves and buds are allowed to wither in natural sunlight before being lightly oxidized. Though the tea plant itself is naturally high in antioxidants, processing removes these beneficial elements to a greater or lesser degree. To get the strongest boost of antioxidants with every cup of tea, opt for a cup of white tea. Antioxidants are linked to improved cardiovascular health and a lower risk of cancer. Many people enjoy the delicate, floral, slightly sweet taste of this tea variety.
2. Yellow Tea
This is a lesser-known variety that gets its distinct color and flavor thanks to the slow drying phase. The resulting tea has a rich taste and a bright yellow or yellow-green color. Choose this tea variety for a weak dose of caffeine. The antioxidants in yellow tea are good for strengthening bones and protecting against arthritis and osteoporosis. This minimally processed tea also has some mild antibacterial properties and so can promote oral health with every cup.
3. Green Tea
Green tea is one of the most popular drinks on the planet. By subtly changing the process of preparation and giving more or less time to various curing and drying stages, a surprising degree of difference is introduced to these varieties. Green tea is known to boost metabolism and support weight loss. Some of the most popular green tea varieties are:
Sencha: A popular Japanese green tea variety made from first and second harvests.
Bancha: Like sencha, but made with leaves from successive harvests. Less expensive than sencha.
Gyokuro: An expensive Japanese variety made from the leaves of shade grown plants. Higher in caffeine.
Longjing: One of the most popular Chinese varieties, made from pan-fired leaves.
Gunpowder: Another Chinese variety characterized by the leaves that are rolled into small pellets. It has a thick, satisfying flavor with smoky hints.
Jasmine tea: A Chinese green tea with added jasmine flowers. The result is light brew with a floral sweetness. Jasmine tea is popular around the world and is often served in restaurants.
4. Oolong Tea
This is a Chinese style of preparation that results in a distinct variety of tea. Strong, direct sunlight is used to wither the harvested leaves before the oxidation process is started. Then the leaves are curled and twisted. Oolong tea can look slightly twiggy or mossy as a result of oxidation levels and the twisting.
Oolong teas that have been subjected to higher levels of oxidation have lost large percentages of the plant’s natural antioxidant properties. However, oolong tea has been shown to improve certain inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
5. Black Tea
Black tea is much more oxidized than any other type of tea; it has a dark, woody color and the resulting beverage is a reddish-brown color. It has a much stronger flavor than any other variety and will retain its taste for many years, so it is a very shelf-stable item. Though it has the lowest amount of health-boosting antioxidants, it also has the most caffeine; people around the world wake up with the help of a strong cup of black tea first thing in the morning. Assam, Ceylon, and Darjeeling are among the most popular varieties of black tea.
6. Blended Tea
English breakfast, Irish breakfast, Earl Grey, and chai are all blended tea varieties that enjoy international renown. The distinctive flavors of each of these blends are accomplished by combining black teas of different origin together and, in some cases, adding herbs and spices for a more complex beverage.
An astonishing variety of drink choices have come from a single humble plant. There is something to suit every taste.