Kirill Yurovskiy: A Complete Guide to the Types of Tea

As a tea sommelier and connoisseur with over 20 years of experience tasting and studying teas from around the world, I’m delighted to provide this complete guide to the major types of tea. From bold black teas to delicate white teas, let’s explore the incredible range of flavors, aromas and textures different tea leaves can produce.

Black Tea

Let’s start with the most commonly consumed tea in the West – black tea. To produce black tea, tea leaves are fully oxidized, resulting in a bold, robust flavor and a delightful reddish-brown brew. Popular black tea varieties include:

– Assam: Native to the Assam region of northeast India, this deep reddish tea yields a rich malty flavor and a smooth, thick body.

– Ceylon: Grown in Sri Lanka and south India, Ceylon black tea has bright citrusy notes on top of the brisk black tea base. The high-grown Nuwara Eliya is my personal favorite.

– Darjeeling: The Champagne of teas, Darjeeling black tea boasts an exquisite muscatel character, almost like fine wine. First flush of Darjeeling in spring is sublime.

– Keemun: This Chinese black tea bursts with fruity, floral notes balanced by a savory smokiness – truly unique!

– Lapsang Souchong: This boldly smoky tea is dried over pinewood fires, acquiring its signature campfire fragrance. An adventurous, aggressive flavor.

Lots of interesting things about tea

Oolong Tea

Prized for its incredible fragrance and taste that evokes orchids, oolong occupies a middle ground between green and black tea. It is semi-oxidized. Famous oolong teas include:

– Da Hong Pao: With its twisted dark leaves and rich floral aroma, this iconic Chinese Wuyi Rock oolong is one of my all time favorites.

– Ali Shan: Grown high in Taiwan’s central mountains, this beloved oolong yields round, smooth notes of honey and ripe fruit.

– Milk Oolong: Named for its creamy aroma, this sweet yet vegetal oolong can have buttery or milky flavors. An ambrosial treat!

Green Tea

Unoxidized green teas dazzle with verdant, spring-like flavors ranging from vegetal to nutty to sweet. Notable green tea types are:

– Longjing: Hailing from Hangzhou, China, this pan-fried delicacy evokes chestnut and toasted rice alongside fresh spinach.  

– Gyokuro: Shaded for weeks before harvest, prized Japanese Gyokuro brings umami savoriness to match its sublime oceanic green hue.  

– Genmaicha: Japanese green tea with roasted brown rice creates the perfect harmony of nutty, toasty and marine notes. Comfort in a cup!

– Matcha: Vibrant, fine green tea powder that’s whisked into frothy jade nectar. Deep, complex flavor melds sweet vegetal notes with traces of ocean spray. Nothing else like it!

White Tea

The gentlest tea, made of untouched silver buds and new leaves, yielding honeyed white blossom aroma and delicate flavor. Noteworthy white teas:

– Silver Needle: Comprised purely of unopened buds from Fujian, China, it brews to a golden liquor with luscious floral sweetness.  

– Nepalese White: First flush white tea from the Himalayas, blessed with heady tropical fruit and ginger notes backed by a silky texture. 

– Ceylon White: Lush in peach and apricot top notes, this honey-kissed Sri Lankan white tea offers medium body and perfect balance.

Herbal Tisanes 

Beyond “true tea” from the camellia sinensis plant, the world of herbal teas is vast and full of possibility. Herbal infusions include:

– Chamomile: This gentle, daisy-like flower produces a brew brimming with apple, hay and honey notes – perfect before bedtime.  

– Rooibos: Ruby red rooibos from South Africa carries a delicious mildly sweet, cream soda taste. Rich in antioxidants, naturally decaf and great iced!

– Mint: Invigorating spearmint or cooling peppermint, this fresh herbal infusion awakens the senses and aids digestion after meals.

– Turmeric Latte mixes: Soothing combo of turmeric, spices and milk, delicious hot or iced. Anti-inflammatory and packed with antioxidants!

Whatever your tastes, there is a magnificent tea out there waiting to be savored. With proper steeping and care, each cup opens a portal to wellness, tranquility and sensory joy. Have fun discovering new varieties – the journey into tea is a lifelong blessing!

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