Types of Loose Leaf Tea?
Now that you know the advantage of loose leaf tea, you may be wondering what are the different types of loose leaf tea and how to choose the right one. There are six different types of tea: green, yellow, white, oolong, black, pu-erh. Then we have our Herbal, Tisane, Rooibos and Chai teas. Yellow is not a common one in the states nor do we carry it, so I am going to skip that one. Feel free to google it though!
We are going to start with my favorite tea. Black. Like my soul? Naw. Choose a black loose leaf tea when you’re looking for a little caffeinated pick-me-up in the morning. Black tea offers more than caffeine, though. Black tea also contains an amino acid called theanine which promotes a sense of calm. The caffeine and theanine work together to give you a lift and keep you alert. You do not get the jitters or the crash and burn effect of other caffeinated beverages. Black teas are fully oxidized teas and brew a liquor from reddish brown to dark brown. They are the most popular type of tea in the western world (so, us). You’re looking at around 40 – 60 Mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup.
Taste notes: There’s a big variation in how black teas taste, but they are generally richer, stronger and darker than other teas. Chinese black teas tend to have smoky notes and sometimes some chocolate and sweetness. Indian teas can be heartier and bolder. Black tea leaves have been flavored since around the time the Ming Dynasty was founded in 1368. Tea can be flavored by adding fruits, floral essences, and/or flavorings to the finished black tea leaves. All tea leaves are very absorbent of fragrances. Popular scented black teas include Earl Grey, scented with bergamot, Lapsang Souchong, which is scented with pinewood smoke, and various fruit-flavored black teas.
Green Tea is also one of the most popular types of tea worldwide, in large part due to its popularity in Asia. There’s a range of flavor and color in green teas — whether it’s Chinese green tea, which is yellowish in color and has a toasted taste, or Japanese green tea that has a darker green color and a more grassy taste. After the initial drying stage, leaves destined for green tea are heated to kill the enzyme responsible for oxidization. The lack of oxidation is also responsible for the very low caffeine content of green tea (only 1%).
Taste notes: Chinese green teas have a wider range of flavors and sometimes a smokiness. They’re also more of a yellow-green color. Japanese green teas are more “fresh” tasting with herbal, grass and seaweed notes. They’re a more true green color in the cup and tend to be more delicate than Chinese green teas. Green tea tastes great when paired with fruit flavors and spices. Popular Green teas are Darjeeling, Fiji and and Matcha (powdered tea that must be whisked.)
White tea undergoes the least amount of processing. Only the tender young spring buds are used. The buds are allowed to wither then dry to prevent much oxidation of the leaf. They release the least amount of caffeine, about 10 – 15 mg per 8 oz cup.
Taste notes: Because of the minimal processing, white tea is the most gentle and delicate in both look and flavor. When you first drink white tea, it seems quite tasteless, almost like drinking hot water. However, after a while, you’ll become aware of a subtle change in your breath and at the back of your mouth. You will taste a soft, nourishing sweetness. We have one I love to drink aptly named Snow White. Can you guess the main flavor?
From lightly oxidized to dark roasted, oolongs can be fragrantly floral to lusciously rich. Oolongs are the most complicated teas to manufacture! Oolong teas are made from large tea leaves. The appearance of finished oolong teas can range from light green to brown, long & twisted, or rolled into tight little balls. There is so much personalization and detail that goes into Oolong that they tend to have the widest array of flavors and aromas.
Taste notes: Your cup of oolong will vary in flavor depending on the amount of oxidation. It may be sweet, creamy and soft, or roasty toasty. Some even taste and smell of stone fruits, honey, floral (orchid is common), sandalwood and more.
If you’re looking for a sweet alternative, try a rooibos tea. Unlike other types of tea, rooibos is completely caffeine-free It is made from the red bush plant instead of the Camellia sinensis plant. Rooibos is a great thirst quencher and is an excellent beverage for active people, including children. Most kids will drink Rooibos without added sugar or sweeteners. This is a big deal for this mom! Try a cup of rooibos as an afternoon treat or with dessert.
Taste notes: Rooibos tea has a taste and color somewhat similar to hibiscus tea, or an earthy flavor like yerba mate. Smoky, sweet, woody, grassy, vanilla, floral, geranium, honey, herbal and caramel are just a handful of the words that can describe the flavor spectrum of sipping a rooibos tea. We like Red Velvet and Fellini’s Folly best.
Like rooibos tea, herbal teas are not made from tea leaves. Instead, they’re made from dried fruits, herbs, and flowers. Herbal Infusions include many well-known herbs such as mint, flowers such as hibiscus and chamomile, roots like licorice and ginger, and other botanicals including rooibos and lemongrass. Tisanes are caffeine free and can be served hot or cold. Herbal teas have a long history, dating back to ancient China and Egypt, where tisanes were drunk for both enjoyment and medicinal purposes. Virtually any flower, fruit or herb that can be steeped in water and ingested can become a tisane.
Taste notes: There’s a large range of herbal tea flavors, including mint, fruit, and cinnamon. Some blends combine many herbs and even add seeds, berries, nuts, and even cocoa. The flavor and aroma will depend on the exact ingredients used. Some favorites of mine include Sssspicy and Zzz for bed time!
Now that you’re familiar with each type of loose leaf tea, you’re ready to learn how to brew loose tea. While it may seem more complicated than brewing bagged tea, (plopping the store-bought teabag into some hot water.) It’s just as easy to brew loose leaf tea! Here’s an easy how-to guide for brewing loose leaf tea: GET YOUR INFUSER HERE.
This article was written and published originally by Java Momma staff member Brie Porterfield. We thank her for her contribution to this blog post. Don’t forget to pin this post so you can come back to it later and remind yourself all about our awesome teas!