Although all tea is derived from species of the Camellia plant (mainly Camellia Sinensis), as distinct from fruit and herbal infusions, the method of processing the leaves gives rise to six types, colours or classes of tea.
Black Tea: produced by the orthodox (drying, rolling, withering, firing) or CTC (crush, tear, curl) method. These teas are popular in the western world such as English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Ceylon etc. In some Chinese dialects it is also referred to as ‘red tea’ because of the colour after infusion.
Green Tea: Steamed (Sencha) or pan dried (gunpowder). The purest form of tea and globally the most widely drunk in various styles.
Oolong: Semi processed. Many varieties produced depending on the country of origin. Sometimes called blue tea because of it’s appearance.
White Tea: Rare and expensive. Mainly the unopened bud, air dried naturally such as Silver Needles.
Yellow Tea: From the high mountain regions of China.
Pu-erh: Generally from the Yunnan Province. These teas can also be aged.
Of course tea readily absorb flavours, which is why there are so many flavoured teas such as Earl Grey or Moroccan Mint. But that is another story…