Black, Green, White And Oolong:
    The Different Kinds Of Tea     
by Rosanne O'Malley

Tea is a favorite beverage of mine, one that I drink daily, because for me, it is a kind of "comfort food". Many of my fondest memories come from times that I have drunk this flavorful brew, with my grandmother, mother, sister or daughter. In creating these special memories, the kind of tea that I drink is almost as important as the people with whom I share it. Knowing the different kinds of tea and how they taste, is  to me, an essential part of the total tea drinking experience.

All teas are derived from the same tea bush, the camellia sinensis. The different kinds of tea that are sold today are all made by the manner in which the plant's leaves, twigs and buds are processed and can be categorized as either black, green, white or oolong.

Black tea is derived from leaves that have been fully oxidized. Oxidation occurs when the enzymes in the plant are released, changing the color to a darker hue. The beverage produced from black tea leaves is dark brown to reddish brown in color and has a strong, robust taste. Black tea accounts for seventy percent of all tea produced and consumed and its more popular varieties include English Breakfast Tea, Darjeeling and Irish Breakfast Tea.

Green tea comes from freshly picked leaves and is not oxidized at all. The beverage produced from green tea leaves is greenish-gold in color and it has a lighter taste. This tea accounts for about ten percent of the world's production and consumption. The tea is known for its medicinal and health benefits.

Oolong tea leaves are only partially oxidized. The beverage produced from these leaves in taste and color is, therefore, somewhat of a cross between black and green tea. This tea accounts for only three percent of the world's production and consumption.

Unlike the other three kinds, white tea is produced, not from open leaves, but from the buds of the tea bush. It has a light sweet taste and is difficult to find on today's market. It may have many of the health benefits of green tea.

Herbal teas are not produced from the leaves of the camellia sinensis bush, but from herbs and flowers. Unlike the others, they are not true teas, but actually tisanes. The most famous herbal tea is chamomile.

Many teas have additives to enhance their flavor. My favorite tea is Earl Grey, a black tea with the oil bergamot added. Other teas can have spices, such as cinnamon or fruits, such as apple or currant added to provide flavor and produce a unique blend.

Of course, determining the right kind of tea for you depends on your own personal taste preferences. Today, tea can be found in the supermarket, in specialty stores, or even online. Find the right tea for you and create your own special memories.

About the Author
Tea is a unique and robust beverage that comes in many different flavors to suit individual tastes. To find the right kind of tea for you, visit
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