Varieties of Tea

While enjoying a refreshing glass of iced tea or a steaming cup of hot tea, we usually don’t stop to think about the many available varieties. The varieties sold in grocery stores are generally a blend of many different kinds, and sometimes there are as many as twenty or thirty blended types. The overall quality depends greatly on the climate, altitude, soil, and the size and age of the leaves upon harvesting. The variety also affects the flavor, strength, and color.

The following are just some of the many varieties of tea available in stores. There are approximately fifteen hundred different types, so next time you pick up a box, read the label and consider the blended varieties. Choose the type that best suits your individual preference and taste. You’ll look at tea in a whole new light once you realize the qualities and benefits of some of the many varieties commonly available.

Green Tea

Green tea isn’t oxidized, and this variety is light green when brewed. The Chinese have noted the medicinal benefits of green tea for thousands of years. It’s said to prevent cancer, infections, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and it boosts immunity and lowers cholesterol. The many varieties are as delicious as they are healthful, but their flavor tends to fade fast. On average, green tea retains its flavor for about a year if properly stored.

Black Tea

If you’re looking for a variety that will give you a quick pick-me-up, black tea is an excellent choice. Black tea is one of the richest, darkest varieties available, and it contains a high level of caffeine. The leaves of black tea are oxidized during processing, and they turn very dark, thus resulting in a darker brew. This variety makes up ninety percent of the tea sold in the western hemisphere, and it can be stored for several years before it begins to lose its distinctive rich flavor.

Oolong Tea

The Chinese word “oolong” means “black snake” or “black dragon”, and it’s often served in Chinese restaurants. Oolong has leaves that are green and brown, and it’s considered semi-oxidized. The brew of this variety is lightly colored, and it’s very flavorful. Choose oolong if you want tea with flavor and intensity that falls between the green and black varieties.

Orange Pekoe Tea

Orange pekoe is sometimes blended with regular black tea, and despite the name, it’s actually considered black. It’s comprised of young flower buds that are plucked with two young leaves. Orange pekoe doesn’t taste at all like oranges, but it is refreshingly crisp. The name actually refers to the color of the dried buds.

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