Types of Tea
First, a clarification: We tend to think of “tea” as anything that gets steeped in hot water. However, there are many different varieties of tea. Research into health benefits mainly focuses on tea that come from one source, Camellia sinensis.
Black, oolong, green and white teas all come from this particular plant, but what’s different is the parts and the processing. Black tea is made from mature, large leaves and undergoes a process which oxidizes the leaves. The process is known as fermentation, though no actual fermentation takes place. This fermentation process is stopped halfway in the making of Oolong tea. The tea is classified as being “semi-fermented” and is said to have characteristics of both green and black teas.
Green tea doesn’t undergo fermentation, so there’s no oxidation in the processing. The tea is chemically different from black tea, and therefore offers some different benefits.
White tea is similar to green because it isn’t fermented, but it incorporates young leaves and buds — which could have less caffeine and more beneficial compounds. Though there isn’t as much research done on white tea as its black and green counterparts, green and white tea blends are hitting the shelves here in North America.