What is tea?
The word tea refers to both a plant and a beverage made by processing the leaves or buds of the tea bush Camellia Sinensis. The beverage tea is made by steeping the processed leaves in hot water for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the type of tea. All of the various types of tea come from the same plant, which will have different characteristics due to differences in climate, soil, season, and care. The full flavor of the final product is developed from the freshly harvested tea leaves by oxidation (fermentation), heating, drying, and even combining the final product with various other substances to make blends and styles that vary by culture, geography, and personal preference.
What are the different types of tea?
Tea is generally broken up into four main categories, three of them depending on their oxidation level. The four main varieties are White Tea, Green Tea, Oolong Tea, and Black Tea, black tea being historically the most common in the western world, but green tea is rapidly gaining lost ground. Herbal teas, while not actually made from tea, are generally included when talking about tea, but are in fact considered a tisane, not tea. There are also countless sub varieties and blends of tea that will be addressed in this FAQ as well, and while they may not easily be categorized, they are respected and unique varieties of tea which are appreciated around the world.