Guide: Tea Varieties

There's a whole world of tea out there, from the traditional black and green teas to fruit infusions and health blends. Check out this guide to learn more about the different types of tea, where they are grown and how they should be enjoyed!

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Black Tea

Black teas are your strong, classic brew with deep flavour. Breakfast blend is the most famous black tea but there are now hundreds of different flavour combinations available! Chocolate chilli, tablet in a cup and coconut cream are some of our most popular black tea blends.  Black teas are usually described as being fully oxidized. However, numerous high-grown teas, especially those from the Himalayan region like Darjeeling first flush teas, have a greener character, and are better described as partially oxidized teas. The greener colour comes from a hard wither, meaning a withering process which completely dries out certain portion of the leaf, effectively preventing it from oxidizing. In some rare cases these "black teas" can even be as light (and green) in colour as green teas. These hard withers are easier to carry out during cooler and drier periods, and at higher altitudes, which explains why second flush teas are darker, and why "greenish" black teas are absent from lower-altitude regions like Assam.

 

Oolong

Oolong is a traditional Chinese tea produced through a unique process that includes withering the plant under strong sun and oxidation before curling and twisting. The manufacturing of oolong tea is intricate because some of the basic steps involved in its making are repeated many times before the desired amount of bruising and browning of the leaves is achieved. Withering, rolling, shaping, and firing are similar to the black tea production process, but much more attention to timing and temperature is necessary. Oolong teas are usually described as semi-oxidized. This tea is very aromatic with a floral flavour.

 

Rooibos

The 300-year-old rooibos (pronounced “roy-boss”) plant is very young compared to the 1,000-plus-year-old Camellia sinensis plant that yields what we know as black and green tea. Rooibos is a herb native to South Africa that isn’t technically a “tea”. Rather, it’s a plant that when harvested and dried can be brewed into a reddish-brown herbal infusion dubbed “African red tea” or “red bush tea”. Rooibos is harvested and processed in a similar fashion to the camellia sinensis tea plant. When harvested, the bushy rooibos plant is cut by hand and its stems and leaves are bound into bundles. The bundles are sorted and then cut or bruised to encourage oxidation. Oxidation, or exposure to oxygen, is what brings out the plant’s essential oils and helps the leaves develop their rich colour and flavour. The more oxidized the rooibos, the redder in colour and sweeter and richer in flavour it becomes. Rooibos is a great caffeine free alternative for tea drinkers and we sell vanilla, floral and citrus varieties of this classic brew.

 

White Tea

White tea refers to one of several styles of tea which generally feature young and/or minimally processed leaves of the camellia sinesis plant. White teas are usually described as unoxidized teas, like green teas. However, because of their minimal processing which does not kill the enzymes in the tea leaf as happens in the processing of green tea, white teas naturally experience some oxidation, so as a general rule, they are slightly more oxidized than typical green teas. This oxidation tends to be greatest in the larger-leafed white teas, because these leafs retain moisture for a longer time during the withering process. White teas are generally delicate, floral and fresh in flavour.

 

Herbal Infusions

Not strictly tea as these drinks are distinguished from true teas as well as from decaffeinated tea, in which the caffeine has been removed. In many countries, the word 'tea' may only be used for leaves of camellia sinensis and therefore the phrase 'herbal tea' is a contradiction in terms, and is often not used. These blends are made up of flowers, herbs and fruits and all have individual benefits and uses.

 

 

Fruit Infusions

Similarly to herbal infusions, our fruit infusions are bursting with juicy, sweet flavour. These hand blended infusions are ideal for making hot drinks and as well as making iced tea. All naturally caffeine free. These teas are thirst quesnching, juicy and summery but can be enjoyed all year round!

 

Green Teas

Green tea is a type of tea that is made from camellia sinensis leaves that have not undergone the same withering and oxidation process used to make oolong and black tea. Green tea originated in China, but its production has spread to many countries in Asia. Several varieties of green tea exist, which differ substantially because of the variety of camellia sinensis used, growing conditions, horticultural methods, production processing, and time of harvest. Green teas are usually described as being completely unoxidized. However, some green teas can sometimes exhibit a slight or partial oxidation. Although not part of the production process, green teas that have been stored for long periods of time can also darken due to oxidation. Green tea has been linked to many health benefits and weight loss. The biggest growth in the tea industry has come from green and herbal teas we become more health concious. 

 

 

 

Health Blends

Unique to Cup, our range of herbal blends which have health boosting properties. Due to the herbal content of the health blends, they are not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, or for those taking medication. These teas can energise, restore balance, aid digestion and give your immune system a kick!

Hannah Houston