Benefits of Chinese Tea

Types of Chinese Tea and Their Benefits

By Madalina Hubert


Tea culture in China goes back thousands of years ago. One day, Shennong, the Divine Farmer, an emperor believed to have founded Chinese medicine, was out travelling. He sat down to rest and have a drink when a dried leaf dropped into his hot water cup. He is said to have felt refreshed after drinking the brew. He thus started a tradition that has since been passed down to the rest of the world.

Types of Chinese Tea

There are 6 main types of tea in Chinese culture and they all come from the plant camellia sinensis. These are white tea, yellow tea, green tea, oolong tea, black (or red tea) and dark (pu-erh) tea. Each type is named according to the colour the tea takes on when it is served. They all have different properties, flavours and medicinal benefits, which are determined by various processing methods and other factors. These include geographical region, climate, soil, and production techniques.

Note that these categories do not refer to the herbal teas (also known as tisanes), which are prepared from a variety of flowers, leaves, herbs and other plants. Herbal teas include mint, linden flower, chamomile, St. John’s Wort and hibiscus. Many of these have been used in traditional medicines around the world (including Chinese medicine) to alleviate various ailments, i.e. linden flower tea to bring down fever; or St. John’s Wort to relieve muscle pains.

6 Tea Types

For now, let’s take a closer look at 6 main tea categories:

  • White tea is very light green in colour with delicate flavours and aromas. The buds (which have fine white hairs growing on it) are picked when they are very fresh and then left to dry in the sun. This tea has very little processing, so it has a high amount of antioxidants and other beneficial properties.
  • Yellow tea is yellow in colour with sweet, delicate flavours. The buds and the first two leaves are left to wither under the sun and are then roasted, steamed and covered to remove the grassy elements. Yellow tea was once prepared exclusively for the Chinese emperors and remains rare today. It is calming and relaxing with other health benefits as well.
  • Green tea is green in colour with fresh, grassy and somewhat astringent flavours. It is made of the young buds and leaves of the plant. After picking, they are left to wither for a short period of time and are roasted to deactivate the enzyme that causes oxidation. Green tea is very popular in China and praised for its many health benefits, including improved brain function, weight loss, and anti-cancer properties

The teas in the last three categories are more oxidized and have stronger flavours.

  • Oolong tea comes in many varieties and flavours. It is at the intersection between black (red) tea and green tea. Health benefits include preventing diabetes and bone loss. This tea is also very popular in Taiwan.
  • Black (or red) tea is red in colour and has deep rich flavours because it is fully oxidized. This is called red tea in China and black tea in the West, where it has become very popular. Name brands include Earl Grey and English Breakfast. Health benefits may include strengthening the cardiovascular and digestive systems.
  • Dark (pu-erh) tea is black in colour and aromatic in flavour. It is doubly fermented and tasted better the more it is aged. Health benefits may include weight loss and cardiovascular protection.

Now that you have a better understanding of the richness and varieties of teas available, you can start exploring. Since there are thousands of specific tea varieties around the world, it’s a long journey. Starting with the six basic categories is a good way to go!

For a more detailed look at the different tea categories, take a look at this video:

The 6 Types Of Tea Video


Madalina Hubert is a Toronto-based writer specializing in art, culture, travel, and culinary explorations.



Related Posts

Style switcher RESET
Body styles
Color scheme
Background pattern
Background image