A Brief Guide to Different Sorts of Tea

Your go-to guide to different types of tea

There are tea sorts for absolutely everyone; you can enjoy it hot or cold, sweetened or unsweetened, and with milk or without.
Tea also comes in a variety of delicious flavors from fruity to herbaceous, smoky and much more.

Chart with different types of tea

But do you get confused with all of those different names for tea types
Fear not! This list will show you the most common TEAS LISTED ALPHABETICALLY  so you know what to expect from them and how to prepare them.
Just click the name of the tea you are looking for in the Table of Contents to jump into the info about it.

Keep in mind that the recommended preparing instructions and estimated caffeine content are approximations: each tea varies depending on a variety of factors, including the year of harvest, where it comes from, and the tea master.

[Click on the + sign in the Table of Contents below to see the names of the teas]

Assam tea

Assam tea is a black tea from India named after the region of its production, Assam.
It’s made from a variety of the tea plant Camelia Sinensis (var. assamica) and it has a strong, malty flavour, so it’s very appreciated for breakfast blends.

Read more about caffeine-content and brewing instructions under Black tea.

Azuki-cha

Azukicha is a Japanese caffeine-free tea made from roasted azuki (adzuki) beans.

Learn here how to make azukicha.

Bancha

Bancha is a Japanese green tea that is harvested from the same plant as sencha, but instead of being harvested in spring-early summer (as sencha is), it’s harvested from mature leaves and stems between summer and autumn.

In other words, bancha is the second flush and therefore considered a lower grade tea.
However, it has its own perks:

  • it has a mild taste with nutty, toasty notes (and less vegetal taste than other green tea types)
  • it has a nice straw smell
  • it’s easier to make (you can use water with higher temperature)
  • it costs less than other green tea types
  • it has less caffeine because older leaves have a smaller caffeine content

Many banchas are brown because they are prepared by roasting the tea leaves in a big pan and then letting them dry them under the sun. 
But there are also bancha teas that aren’t roasted and have a more greenish color.

Bancha is often used to make hojicha (roasted tea).

Barley tea

Barley tea is a infusion made from roasted barley grains.
It’s caffeine-free and it can be served hot or cold.
This beverage is very popular in East Asian countries as Japan (where it’s called mugi-cha), China (damai-cha), Taiwan (beh-a-te) and Korea (bori-cha).

Read more about how to make barley tea.

Beh-a-te

Be̍h-á-tê (麥仔茶) is the name for barley “tea in Taiwan.

Black tea

Black tea leaves flatlay

Black tea is the result of camellia sinensis tea leaves getting more oxidized than in other types of tea. As a consequence, the brewed beverage has a stronger, bolder taste.
It’s also considered to have the highest caffeine and tannin content among teas.
Brewed black tea has a reddish brown dark color.

Among the best known black teas sorts are Assam, Darjeeling, Ceylon, and Keemun.
Popular tea blends that use black black tea are for example chai and Earl Grey.

Black tea in your cup

AMOUNT: 2-3 gr. per cup (6-8 oz) – that’s 1 teaspoon if the leaves are on the smaller size; 1 tablespoon if the leaves are big
WATER TEMPERATURE: full boil (100°C or 212°F)
STEEP TIME: 3-5 minutes
COLD BREW: 8 hours

CAFFEINE CONTENT:  47 mg per cup [source]

Blue tea

The best known tea with blue color is butterfly pea tea, a herbal tea made from flowers.
However, oolong tea is also called sometimes “blue” tea in spite of having another color, due to the fact that its Chinese characters (青茶) might be translated as “blue tea”.

Bocha

Bōcha (棒茶) – pronounced with a long “o” is another name for kukicha, a Japanese tea prepared from stalks and twigs.

For preparing instructions and additional information, see under kukicha.

Bo-Hojicha

Bo-Hojicha tea

Bō-hōjicha (棒ほうじ茶) is a Hōjicha (roasted tea) made from bōcha (twig tea).
It’s extremely low in caffeine since bōcha already contains very little caffeine and the roasting process reduces the caffeine content even more.

Preparation similar to Hojicha’s

Bori-cha

Boricha (보리차) is the name in Corea for barley tea, a infusion made from roasted cereal grains.

Breakfast tea

Breakfast teas are blends of different types of black tea.
They are popular in the British Isles, but there are no fixed proportions for breakfast tea blends.
However, they have in common that they taste robust and strong and they go well with milk and sugar.
Breakfast teas examples are English Breakfast Tea or Irish Breakfast Tea.

More about caffeine-content and brewing instructions under Black tea.

Buckwheat tea

Buckwheat tea is an infusion made from roasted buckwheat.
It’s caffeine-free and a very popular beverage in East Asian countries as China (kuqiao-cha), Corea (memil-cha) or Japan (soba-cha).

Buckwheat tea in your cup

AMOUNT: 1 tsp. per cup
WATER TEMPERATURE: fresh boiled water
STEEP TIME: 5-10 minutes (it doesn’t matter if you steep longer)
COLD VERSION: prepare with hot water and let cool.
OTHERS: you can eat the buckwheat after steeping.

CAFFEINE CONTENT: 0

Read more about how to enjoy buckwheat tea

Butterfly pea flower tea

Butterfly pea tea is a caffeine-free herbal tea made from dried butterfly pea flowers (Clitoria ternatea).
It has a vibrant blue color that changes to purple when something acidic like lemon or vinegar is added.

Butterfly tea in your cup

AMOUNT: 1/2 tsp. per cup (2-4 whole flowers)
WATER TEMPERATURE: fresh boiled water
STEEP TIME: 5 minutes (it doesn’t get bitter if you steep for longer)
COLD BREW: add room temperature water and let steep for 6 hours.
OTHERS: it goes well with milk. Instead of milk, add a couple of lemon drops to get a purple color.

CAFFEINE CONTENT: 0

Ceylon tea

Ceylon tea refers to the tea produced in Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon).
While most of the manufactured Ceylon tea is black, Ceylon tea leaves can also be processed as any other tea type, like green or white tea.
In general, Ceylon teas are described as light and brisk.

Find out more about caffeine-content and brewing instructions under Black tea.

Chai

The word ”chai” refers to tea in many cultures.
However, this name is usually linked to masala chai, a blend of black tea with spices such as cardamom, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and black pepper.

Chai latte

Chai latte is a drink that combines milk with black tea infused with spices associated with masala chai.

Dàmài-cha

Dàmài-cha  (大麦茶; 大麥茶) or mài-chá (麦茶; 麥茶) is the name for barley ”tea” in China.

Darjeeling

Darjeeling is the tea from regions of Darjeeling and Kalimpong (India), where the tea gardens are located in hills.

Darjeeling is commonly classified as black tea, but there are also white, green and oolong versions of It.

The unique climate and soil conditions of these regions between the Himalayas and West Bengala give Darjeeling tea a mellow, smooth and delicate flavor.

Dasima-cha

Dasima-cha (다시마차) is the name for seaweed infusion in Korean.

Dattan soba-cha

Dattan sobacha is a specific type of Japanese buckwheat tea made from tartary buckwheat (dattan soba).
It tastes liked toasted cereal and like regular sobacha, it’s caffeine-free.

Earl Grey

Earl grey tea leaves

Earl grey tea is a blend where (traditionally) black tea is flavored with bergamot oil.
Despite having a citric aroma, it matches well with milk or cream.

More about caffeine-content and brewing instructions under Black tea.

East Frisian Tea

East Frisian Tea (in German, Ostfriesentee) is a strong blend of black tea from East Frisia, a region in the north of Germany.

The base tea is usually Assam tea, and some variations of these blend are ”Omas Sonntagstee” (Granny’s Sunday’s tea) and ”Opas Schietwettertee” (Grandpa’s s**ty weather tea).

With an average tea consumption of 300 liters/year per person, tea culture is so deeply established in this region that it has the UNESCO title of Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Usually, the loose leaf tea is poured into a cup that contains a big chuck of rock sugar (Kluntje).
Then some cream is added, but not stirred, so the tea looks like there is a cloud in it (Wulkje).
The results are three different experiences with each cup: a creamy tea at first, bitter at the middle and sweet at the end.

English Breakfast Tea

English Breakfast tea is a blend that combines different types of black tea, depending on the tea manufacturer.
The main ingredient of English Breakfast blends is Ceylon tea (usually followed by Assam tea).

Like other breakfast teas, English Breakfast Tea produces a robust tea that combines well with milk, but it usually tastes lighter than other breakfast tea varieties.

Genmaicha

Genmaicha

Genmaicha (玄米茶) is a Japanese tea blend that combines roasted rice with green tea.
Genmaicha has a mild flavour and an agreeable toasted smell that is liked by most people.
Its scent remains of roasted grains, t hat’s why it is also known as popcorn tea, although it doesn’t contain real popcorn.

Genmaicha in your cup

AMOUNT: 1Tbsp (6 gr) per cup (236 ml)
WATER TEMPERATURE: 80°C (176°F)
STEEP TIME: 30 seconds-1 minute.
COLD BREW: 1 Tbsp tea per cup – steep in water temperature water or in the fridge for 3-6 hours

CAFFEINE CONTENT: around 4 mg per cup
OTHERS: genmaicha can be brewed 3 times with full flavor

Gobō-cha

Gobōcha is a caffeine-free tea from Japan made from dried burdock root.

Gunpowder

Gunpowder is a Chinese tea type in which each tea leaf is tightly rolled to form a small round pellet.
Gunpowder tea is mostly made from green tea leaves, but you can also find many oolong teas with this form.

Its Chinese name is zhu-cha (珠茶- pearl tea) and the English translation comes from the fact that the tiny rolled leaves resemble the gunpowder that British warships of the 19th century used.
There is also the opinion that the name gunpowder comes from the popping sound that some of these teas make when brewed, but despite the name, this tea contains no gunpowder.

Gunpower tea tastes buttery and can have a smoky flavor.

Gyokuro

Gyokuro (玉露 – which means jade dew) is a Japanese green sort in which the tea leaves are covered for at least two to four weeks before the harvest.

Growing under the shade (instead of under the sun) makes gyokuro a umami-packed, stronger and richer tea.
It is considered one of the highest grades of green tea in Japan and also one of the most expensive.

Gyokuro is one of the green tea with the highest amount of caffeine.

Haidai-cha

Haidai-cha (海带茶) is the name for seaweed infusion in China.
It’s caffeine-free and it can be made of small pieces of kelp or pulver.
Usually it’s prepared by adding fresh boiled water to it.

Hibiscus

Hibiscus tea, also called Agua de Jamaica, Sorrell tea or “sour tea” is a caffeine-free herbal tea.
It’s made from the dried flowers of the tropical plant Hibiscus sabdariffa and it has a deep red or magenta color and a tart flavor.

Hojicha

Hojicha tea

Hōjicha (焙じ茶) means “roasted tea” in Japanese.
It’s made from green tea and thanks the roasting process, it tastes mildly sweet and caramel-like.

Hojicha in your cup

AMOUNT: 1-2 tsp (3-6 gr) per cup (236 ml)
WATER TEMPERATURE: 95°C (203°F) [higher than for other green teas]
STEEP TIME: 1 minute
COLD BREW: 1 Tbsp tea per cup – steep in room temperature water for 1-2 hours or over night in the fridge

CAFFEINE CONTENT: very low, around 8 mg per cup

Learn here know to roast your own hojicha at home

Recipes With Hojicha:
Hojicha latte

Honeybush

Honeybush tea is a caffeine-free infusion made of leaves and stems of the honeybush shrubfrom from the Cyclopia plant.
This shrub is related to rooibos and only grows in the Eastern and Western Cape regions of South Africa.

Honeybush tea has a lightly sweet taste, with floral notes that remind of honey.

Irish Breakfast Tea

Irish Breakfast Tea is a blend of a variety of black teas, with Assam tea as main ingredient.
There is no fixed recipe for Breakfast Tea (every manufacturer crafts its own combination) but Irish Breakfast usually tastes stronger than English Breakfast.
It goes well with milk.

Jiaogulan

Jiaogulan (Gynostemma tea) is a Chinese caffeine-free herbal tea that tastes similar to green tea.
Also known as immortality herb in the Guizhou Province, it’s considered a herbal medicine and adaptogenic food.
In the EU it’s categorized as novel food and therefore not allowed to be sold as food.

Kabusecha

Kabuse tea is a Japanese green type in which the leaves are shaded, but to a smaller extent than gyokuro tea (less time and lower shading percentage).
The result is an umami rich, mild tea.
As other high grade green teas, it should be steeped at a relatively low temperature.

Kabusecha in yOur cup

AMOUNT: 2-3 tsp (6-9 gr) per 8oz. (236 ml)
WATER TEMPERATURE: 70°C (158°F)
STEEP TIME: 2 minutes
COLD BREW: 1 Tbsp tea per 8 oz. (236 ml) – steep in room temperature water for 1-2 hours or over night in the fridge

Kamairicha

Kamairicha (釜炒り茶, meaning pan fried tea) is a Japanese green tea, but unlike the other types, it’s not steamed in the early stages of processing but pan fried, like Chinese tea.

Karigane

Karigane Sakura tea blend

Karigane (雁が音, wild goose) is a Japanese tea made from stems or a blend of stalks and stems of finest green tea: Gyokuro or high-grade sencha.
It’s practically the same as Shiraore; the name karigane-cha is mainly used in the Kyoto region while in the area of Kyushu they refer to this sort of tea as shiraore.

Karigane is made from high-quality tea, but it’s less expensive because it’s a by-product, as other sorts of kukicha.
Like other teas made from stems and twigs, it’s very appreciated for its mild flavor and low caffeine content.

Karigane In your cup

AMOUNT: 2 tsp (8 gr) per cup (236 ml)
WATER TEMPERATURE: 70-80 °C (160-175 °F)
STEEP TIME: 1 minute. Great for re-steeping
COLD BREW: use the same amount of tea and steep in room temperature water for 1-2 hours

CAFFEINE CONTENT: between 20-30 mg per cup; karigane made from gyokuro usually has more caffeine than karigane made from sencha [source]

Keemun

Keemun is a black tea produced in Qimen (China).
It tastes light, with mellow fruity flavor and gentle floral fragrance.

More about brewing and caffeine-content under Black tea.

Kombucha

Kombucha, also know as mushroom tea, is a fermented drink made with black or green tea (it can also be made with a combination of both).
It’s prepared by fermenting sweetened tea with a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).
This process makes the beverage light effervescent while also creating some alcohol.

Kombu-cha (Japanese)

Japanese kombucha (昆布茶) is a seaweed “tea” made by infusing kombucha kelp (small cut pieces or powder) in fresh boiled hot water.
It is caffeine-free (unless combined with green tea).
It’s also known as haidai-cha in China and dasima-cha in Korea.

Kukicha

Kukicha (茎茶), also known as bōcha, &means “twig tea” and is a Japanese tea made of twigs, stalks and stems of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis).
It’s usually produced from the left-over plant parts that aren’t used when producing sencha or matcha.
When it’s made from gyokuro or from other high quality green tea’s production, it’s called karigane or shiraore.

Kukicha has a mild, creamy flavor with a nutty aroma.

Kuromame-cha

Kuromame-cha is a caffeine-tea made from roasted black soybeans (kuromame in Japanese).

See here detailed step-to-step instructions on how to prepare kuromamecha (also from scratch).

Kuqiao-cha

Kuqiao-cha (苦荞茶) is the name for buckwheat “tea” in China.
This caffeine-free infusion is also popular in Japan under the name of soba-cha und in Korea as memil-cha.

Here more about how to prepare buckwheat tea.

Lady Grey

Lady Grey tea is a variation of Earl Grey.
As in Earl Grey, the black tea has bergamot flavor, but it also contains lemon and orange peel.

It was created by the tea company Twinings and it’s trademarked.

Lao Ying

Laoying cha (hawk or eagle tea) is a Chinese herbal tea made from a type of a wild-growing laurel tree.
Native of the Sichuan (Himalaya) region, Lao Ying tea is caffeine-free and can be served hot or iced.

Lapacho tea

Lapacho (also known as taheebo and “tea of the Incas”) is a caffeine-free herbal tea made from the bark of the Pau d’arco tree (Handroanthus impetiginosus).

Lapacho tea has a woody and earthy taste that reminds of rooibos.

Masala chai (also known as “chai”)

The word Chai means “tea” in many parts of the world, but it has come to be used as a synonym for masala chai (spiced tea): a tea blend from India that combines black tea with spices like cardamom, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and black peppercorns.
It can also contain other spices as nutmeg, vanilla, star anise or fennel among others.

Matcha

Matcha (抹茶) is powdered high-grade green tea.
It’s processed by finely grinding young tea leaves, resulting in a bright green powder.
Traditionally it’s prepared by whisking it into hot water (not steeped) to form a frothy drink.
However, it has also gained popularity as a way to add color and taste to different types of food, desserts and other drinks, from matcha latte to smoothies.

The traditional Japanese tea ceremony focus on matcha’s preparation, serving and drinking as a meditative practice.

Memil-cha

Memil-cha (메밀차) means buckwheat “tea” in Corean.
This caffeine-free beverage is also known as kuqiaocha in China and soba-cha in Japan.

Mountain tea

Mountain tea, the infusion of the sideritis plant, is also known as Greek mountain tea, Albanian mountain tea or shepherd’s tea.
This caffeine-free herbal tea has a floral, earthy, and mild flavor that tastes like a blend of chamomile, mint and citrus.

Mugi-cha

Mugicha (麦茶) is the Japanese name for barley tea, a caffeine-free infusion made from roasted barley.
It can be served both hot or cold.

Oolong

Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea.
As they are only partially oxidized (between 8-85% oxidized), they are in the wide range between green and black tea.

Oolong usually has a buttery, rich flavor and an elegant aroma that can manifest many different nuances from sweet and flowery to woody or chocolate-like.

Orange Pekoe

Orange Pekoe isn’t a sort of tea but a black tea grade.
Unlike tea make with broken or crushed leaves such as Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP), fannings or dustings, Orange Pekoe is made from whole tea leaves.

Popcorn tea

Look under Genmaicha

Real tea

Real teas are the ones made from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) and any of its variations.
The way in which the tea is processed determines its type.
The main types of true teas are: white, yellow, green, oolong, black, pu-ehr and purple.
They all contain caffeine in varying amounts.

Red tea

Red tea normally refers to the herbal tea rooibos.
But sometimes the same name is used for hibiscus tea, another herbal tea with a bright red color.
In addition of that, some Asian languages write black tea with the symbols 紅茶, that can be translated as “red tea”.

Rooibos

Rooibos tea leaves

Rooibos tea, also known as red bush tea or red tea, is a herbal tea made from fermenting the needle-like leaves of the Aspalathus linearis, a plant native to South Africa.
Rooibos has a smooth, earthly and naturally sweet taste that mix well in a wide variety of blends.
This beverage is caffeine-free and low in tannins, making it a popular choice for those who are sensitive to caffeine or want to avoid bitter taste.
Rooibos can be served with or without milk, cold or hot.

Rooibos in your cup

AMOUNT: 1 tsp per cup
WATER TEMPERATURE: freshly boiled water
STEEP TIME: 5 minutes (it’s a forgiving tea; you won’t oversteep it)
COLD BREW: use the same amount of tea and steep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 8 hours.

CAFFEINE CONTENT: it’s caffeine-free

Recipes with rooibos:
Homemade vanilla rooibos tea blend

Ryokucha

Ryokucha (緑茶) is the name for green tea in Japan.
This means that many tea types, such as sencha, gyokuro, hojicha, karigane and matcha among others, are included in the category of ryokucha.
To make Japanese green tea, the leaves are first steamed to prevent oxidization, then rolled, shaped and dried.

Sakura-cha

Sakura-cha (sakura tea), also known as sakura-yu, is the infusion that results from steeping cherry blossoms.
Because edible sakura cherry blossoms are conserved in salt prickled form, sakura tea is mildly salty.

Sakura tea in your cup

AMOUNT: 1-2 flowers per small cup (150 ml)
WATER TEMPERATURE: First allow the flowers to take off the salt in around 3 Tbsp. water at 40 °C (104 °F). Then steep the flowers in freshly boiled water, adding around 1 tsp. from the salted water.
STEEP TIME: 2-3 minutes

CAFFEINE CONTENT: sakura tea is caffeine-free unless blended with green tea

Sannenbancha

Sannen bancha (三年番茶 – meaning “three-year bancha”) is a type of Japanese green tea with a light brown color and mild taste.
Sannenbancha tea has the lowest caffeine content of all green teas and it’s very appreciated in microbiotic circles.

Sannenbancha can be made in one of these two ways:

  • The harvested bancha tea get stored and aged for 3 years
  • The tea is made using tea bushes that were grown for 3 years without being cut

Sannenbancha in your cup

AMOUNT: 1-2 tsp (4-8 gr) per cup (236 ml)
WATER TEMPERATURE: 90 °C (174 °F)
STEEP TIME: 2-3 minutes
COLD BREW: use the same amount of tea and steep for 2 hours at room temperature or in the fridge over night (6-8 hours)

CAFFEINE CONTENT: very low – with an estimated 0,5% caffeine content, it’s the Japanese green tea with the lowest caffeine levels

Sencha

Sencha (煎茶) it’s the most popular green tea in Japan, and it’s made from upper leaves and buds of the tea plant Camellia sinensis that are harvested in spring or early summer.
There are many different types of sencha and the color and taste of the resulting drink varies depending on its recollection’s place and season.
However, it usually has a light, golden-green color and a fresh vegetal, grassy taste with some hints of seaweed flavor.

Shiraore

Shiraore (白折 / しらおれ) is a type of kukicha (twig tea); green tea made with parts of the tea plant that are not used for making regular green tea.
Shiraore is made using stems, stalks, and twigs from gyokuro production.

Shiraore together with karigane are the finest kind of kukicha in terms of quality, as gyokuro is one of the most well regarded Japanese green teas.
Like any other kukicha tea, shiraore has a naturally low caffeine content and has an distinctive nutty and sweet flavor and aroma.

Sobacha

Sobacha (そば茶), translated as Buckwheat tea, is a Japanese caffeine-free infusion.
It’s made from roasted buckwheat and it has a mild, nutty, roasted cereal flavor and aroma.
This drink is also known as kuqiao-cha in China and as memil-cha in Korea.

Learn more here: how to prepare buckwheat tea.

Sunrouge

Sunrouge tea leaves

This Japanese green tea was developed to produce a tea with the highest content in antioxidants as possible.
Because its high amount of anthocyanin (an antioxidant found in some fruits and vegetables, such as grapes and blueberries), the tea has a pink color that deepens when combined with lemon or other acid additives as vinegar.

Sunrouge tastes more astringent than other Japanese green teas.

Sunrouge in your cup

AMOUNT: 1-2 tsp (4-8 gr) per cup (236 ml)
WATER TEMPERATURE: 70 °C (160 °F)
STEEP TIME: 1 minute
COLD BREW: use the same amount of tea and steep in the fridge over night
OTHERS: For a more intense pink color, add some drops of lemon juice

CAFFEINE CONTENT: 50-70 mg per cup [slightly more than regular green tea]

Learn here more about sunrouge tea and how to enjoy it

Tamaryokucha

Tamaryokucha (玉緑茶), also known as guricha, is a Japanese green tea in which tea leaves are curled

It’s cultivated and processed as sencha, with the only difference that in the last step, the tea leaves are dried with hot air.

Some types or tamaryoku tea are made with green tea that is pan fried (kamairicha). This kind of tamaryokucha is called kamairi-tamaryokucha.

Tencha

Tencha is the fully shaded green tea from which matcha powder is made.
It can be also used to steep tea.

Umekombucha

A type of Japanese kombucha (kelp infusion) that has “umeboshi” (fermented plums) in it.

Wakocha

Wakōcha (和紅茶) is Japanese black tea.

Since Japan mostly produces green tea, the most common tea plants are less bitter than the plants usually used to manufacture black tea in other parts of the world.
This, together with the climatic conditions of Japan, makes wakocha a smooth tea, with less astringency than other black tea types and with a floral aroma. 

Yerba mate

Yerba mate, commonly known as mate, is a traditional herbal infusion from South America.
Mate is made by steeping dried leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis plant and unlike most herbal teas, it has caffeine.

Mate’s taste is often described as grassy, bitter, bitter or vegetal, having a very distinct flavor that may be an acquired taste.