All teas come from the same plant called Camellia sinensis. The thousands of different varieties of teas available in the world only vary on the region it was grown, the time of year picked, and the processing method. The differences stem from how they are processed.
How the leaves are processed will determine their final classification. The main categories of tea are White, Green, Oolong, and Black. The main difference between the many tea varieties is how much oxygen the leaves are allowed to absorb during processing. Much oxygen produces dark-colored black teas. Little oxygen results in green tea. Unprocessed leaves are called white tea.
Each type of tea has its own characteristics including a different taste, differing health benefits, and even different levels of caffeine.
♦White teas are the least processed of all. Quite simply, the leaves are gently withered and dried.
♦Green teas undergo slightly more processing. After plucking, the leaves are steamed or heated briefly and then dried.
♦Oolong teas require an additional step of partial oxidation. The leaves are gently bruised and exposed to the air for a carefully controlled period of time. This partial oxidation creates a tea with flavor between a green tea and a black tea.
♦Black tea, leaves are slightly withered, rolled, fully oxidized to develop a deeper flavor, and then dried.
There is no other beverage that can be so relaxing at times, while so invigorating at others; that can be enjoyed either hot or cold and that is so very easy to prepare yet produces flavors that are so complex as the incredible beverage that is commonly referred to simply as tea. Happy Sipping!