Tea has been enjoyed by people all around the world for thousands of years. This ancient beverage was purportedly discovered in 2737 BC by Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung, and it has since become a beloved staple in many cultures. Today, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, next to water, with over 159 million Americans drinking it daily.
In this article, we’ll explore the most popular types of tea and learn about the unique characteristics and flavors that make each one special.
Most Popular Teas
Black tea accounts for about 84% of all tea consumed in the US, making it the most popular type of tea. It is known for its strong, bold flavors and high caffeine content. Some of the most well-known varieties of black tea include:
- Assam: Grown in the Assam region of India, this tea has a robust, malty taste with hints of caramel and raisins.
- Darjeeling: This Indian tea is often referred to as the “Champagne of teas” due to its delicate, fruity, and floral flavors.
- Ceylon: Originating from Sri Lanka, Ceylon tea is bright, brisk, and full-bodied with citrusy notes.
- Keemun: Hailing from China, Keemun is known for its floral, fruity, and slightly smoky flavor profile.
Green tea represents 15% of total tea imports in the United States and is widely known for its health benefits. Some popular varieties of green tea include:
- Bancha: A Japanese tea with a mild, slightly sweet taste and a hint of astringency.
- Hojicha: Roasted green tea from Japan, known for its toasty, caramel-like flavor.
- Matcha: A powdered green tea from Japan, used in traditional tea ceremonies and known for its vibrant color and creamy, umami-rich flavor.
- Chun Mee: This Chinese tea has a slightly sweet, plum-like flavor with a hint of smokiness.
White tea, while not as popular as black or green tea, is prized for its delicate flavors and minimal processing. Some well-known white teas include:
- Bai Mudan (White Peony): A Chinese tea with a light, floral taste, and a slightly sweet finish.
- Silver Needle: Another Chinese white tea, Silver Needle is known for its delicate, sweet, and slightly vegetal flavor.
- Fujian New Craft: A newer variety of white tea, Fujian New Craft offers a smooth, mellow taste with notes of melon and cucumber.
Oolong tea is a semi-oxidized tea that falls somewhere between black and green tea in terms of flavor and oxidation level. Some popular oolong teas are:
- Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe): A famous Chinese oolong with a rich, roasted flavor and hints of dark chocolate.
- Dong Ding: A Taiwanese oolong tea that is known for its buttery texture and floral, fruity notes.
- Tieguanyin (Iron Goddess of Mercy): A Chinese oolong with a fragrant, floral taste and a lingering sweetness.
- Jin Xuan (Milk Oolong): A Taiwanese oolong with a creamy, milky flavor and a smooth mouthfeel.
Pu-erh tea is a fermented tea native to China’s Yunnan province. It is available in two styles, shou (cooked) and sheng (raw), and offers a rich, earthy flavor. Some well-known varieties of Pu-erh tea include:
- Meng hai: A famous Yunnan region that produces shou and sheng Pu-erh teas with complex, earthy flavors and a touch of bitterness.
- Xiaguan: Another well-known Pu-erh producing region, Xiaguan teas are known for their strong, robust flavors and astringent finish.
- Bulang: Pu-erh teas from the Bulang region are highly sought after for their bold, fruity flavors and rich, smooth texture.
Tea is a versatile and flavorful beverage millions of people worldwide enjoy. Each type of tea – black, green, white, oolong, and Pu-erh – has its unique characteristics, flavors, and health benefits. Whether you’re a seasoned tea connoisseur or just starting to explore the world of tea, there is no shortage of delicious and intriguing options to try. So, why not take a moment to brew yourself a cup and savor the rich history and flavors that the most popular teas in the world have to offer?