Different types of tea - the differences briefly explained

Today we want to give you a brief insight into the differences between the six different types of tea so that you can keep track of them the next time you go to the tea store.
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When you walk into a tea store or stand in front of the tea shelf in the supermarket, you are literally overwhelmed by the choice of teas. Various herbal teas, fruit teas, different green and black teas, white teas and many more fill the shelves. How are you supposed to keep track of everything? Do you know this feeling?

So that you don't despair on your next visit to the tea store, supermarket or online store, today we want to give you a brief insight into the differences between the six different types of tea. 

Matcha traditionally prepared

Why only six different types of tea?

It's simple: all the teas come from one and the same tea plant Camellia Sinensis plant. The numerous herbal and fruit teas mentioned at the beginning are therefore, strictly speaking, only tea-like teas. infusions. The reason for this is that they do not consist of parts of the tea plant.

There are the following "real" teas:

  • Green tea
  • White tea
  • Black tea
  • Yellow tea
  • Oolong tea
  • Pu-erh tea 

One plant and yet different?

The main difference between the tea varieties is their fermentation process. In this process, the initially green tea leaves are exposed to oxygen after harvesting and thus oxidize. With increasing oxidation the leaves turn dark to black.

Close-up of a tea plant

What exactly is the difference?

The table gives you an overview of the different types of tea, their fermentationcountries of production and examples of known varieties:

Tea variety


Country of production 

Known varieties

Green tea

Fermentation (0%) is prevented by roasting or steaming the tea leaves after withering.

China, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Nepal, Tibet

SenchaBancha, Gyokuro, Matcha, Shincha, etc. 

White tea

Unfermented (only leaf edges approx. 2%) and only young shoots are used.

China, Taiwan

Pai Mu Tan, Yin Zhen (silver needle)

Black tea

Strong fermentation (between 30 minutes and 3 hours)

Japan, China, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Nepal, Africa, South America, Turkey, Portugal, England, Iran

Assam, Darjeeling, Ceylon, Sikkim, Quimen, Formosa

Yellow tea

Low fermentation and only young shoots are used.

China, Taiwan

Junshan Yinzhen, Mengding Huangya

Oolong tea

Semi-fermented, the process is interrupted after some time.

China, Taiwan, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malawi and Kenya

Tie Guanyin, Yancha

Pu-erh tea

Fermentation is initially prevented. This is followed by a long post-maturing period with strong fermentation (up to 20 years). 

China, Taiwan

Traditional method: green tea/sheng

Accelerated process: ripe/shu

Difference between the tea varieties in their effect

Those who drink tea primarily for its effect on the body should pay attention to two points: 

Degree of fermentation and infusion time (or possible number of infusions).

Oxidation always takes place during fermentation, which also breaks down some of the ingredients or changes their effect on the body. For example, the concentration of amino acids is reduced with increasing oxidation and the caffeine is released from the plant substances to which it is bound in the raw tea leaf. The unbound caffeine is absorbed into the blood faster than bound caffeine, which means that the effect can be perceived as more intense, but also shorter. 

The brewing time in turn influences how many ingredients (especially caffeine) can pass from the leaf into the drink. This is where green tea, in particular matchais way ahead of the rest. With matcha, the entire ground tea leaf is drunk, so that 100% of the ingredients end up in your body. Find out here everything about matcha at a glance.

And now we'd like to know which of these teas is your favorite and why? Did you already know that there are only these six teas and that everything else is "just" a tea-like product? We are curious :-)

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