Types of tea, decoded

We often hear about the health benefits of tea, but all types are not created equal. Learn the differences in this article.

We often hear about the health benefits of tea, but what’s the difference between some of the different types, and which is the healthiest? Read on to find out!

True teas

“True” tea varieties are made from the Camellia sinensis plant, and include black, green, and white tea. Whatever the kind, the leaves contain healthy antioxidants and potentially cancer-fighting phytonutrients.

From orange pekoe to English Breakfast, black tea is what many of us think when we hear the generic term “tea.” It’s made from fully oxidized leaves, while oolong tea is made from partially oxidized leaves. Pu-erh tea is a type of tea that involves fermentation and aging, and finally, green tea and white tea are made from parts of the plant that haven’t been oxidized: green tea from the leaves and white tea from the bud.

For brewing tips, check out our article “Tea Time,” and for ideas in how to cook with tea (yes, really!), read the recipes in our article “Cooking with Tea.”

Chai tea

Chai tea is a traditional Indian tea made from black tea with spices added to it, such as cinnamon. It’s certainly delicious, but make sure when choosing it that you opt for a traditional healthy variety, rather than one with added sweeteners or syrups.

Rooibos tea

Not technically tea (because it doesn’t contain the Camellia sinensis plant), rooibos is also referred to as South African red tea. It’s also packed with antioxidants, but luckily for many tea lovers, it doesn’t contain any caffeine.

Herbal teas

Just like rooibos tea, herbal teas aren’t technically tea. But that doesn’t mean they’re not healthy! Made from herbs, flowers, leaves, seeds, or roots of edible or medicinal plants, this group encompasses favourites such as peppermint tea and camomile tea.


Again, mate isn’t a true tea variety. It comes from South America, from the yerba mate plant, and has a bold flavour.


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