All teas, excluding herbal varieties, come from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. Variations in flavor, color, and strength are based on factors in growing, harvesting, and processing. Tea leaves fresh from the bush are harsh and bland. Processing methods largely determine the end flavor of the tea. Teas may also be blended to create variations on flavors, and may be flavored with other ingredients, such as jasmine or bergamot. Black, green, and oolong are considered the basic types of teas, but thousands of varieties exist.
Black tea is the most common form of tea worldwide. It is prepared from green tea leaves that have been allowed to oxidize, or ferment, to form a reddish brew.
Oolong tea is a lightly fermented tea, between green and black tea on a continuum.
Green tea is an unfermented, dried tea, widely drunk worldwide and known for its fresh taste and health benefits.
White tea is the uncured and unoxidized tea leaf.
Herbal tea—technically not “tea” at all—uses a blend of dried plant flowers, stems, roots, or leaves for a hot brew. Yerba maté, made from an Argentinian evergreen shrub, is a popular herbal tea.