For The World's Greatest Teas

Discover the different types of tea

Tea defined

About tea: tea is an aromatic beverage commonly prepared by pouring hot or boiling water over cured leaves of Camellia Sinensis, an evergreen shrub native to Asia. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Here you will discover all about tea – the different types and styles.

Types of tea

Tea can be oxidised to create black tea. Alternatively, the leaf may not be oxidised to create green teas. These are particularly appreciated for their health benefits as they are high in antioxidants. Semi-oxidised teas, known as oolongs are more complex in taste. White teas made from the young buds and leaf, very slightly oxidised. Rarely produced yellow tea is close in character to green teas.

Some teas, like Darjeeling and Chinese greens, have a cooling, slightly astringent flavour, while others have vastly different profiles that include sweet, nutty, floral or grassy notes.

Origins of tea drinking

Tea originated in China as a medicinal drink. It came to the West via Portuguese priests and merchants, who brought it there during the 16th century. Drinking tea became fashionable among Britons during the 17th century, who introduced the plant to their possessions in India to bypass a Chinese monopoly. There is a huge history to tea and here you will find links to this history and a time-line over the centuries.

Infusions and loose leaf

Herbal infusions

The phrase ‘herbal tea’ usually refers to infusions of fruit or herbs made without the tea plant, such as rosehip, chamomile, or rooibos. These are better known as tisanes or herbal infusions to distinguish them from “tea” as it is commonly construed.

Loose leaf

We only sell loose leaf. This is because it produces a more all-round, balanced flavour profile than is possible from bags or infusion bags. Bags use very small particles of tea that infuse quickly. If they were to be allowed to brew longer, the tannins released into the cup would become unbearably strong.

High-grade, large leaf teas have a smaller surface area compared with the volume of the leaf so they can be infused longer without becoming too tannic – yielding a well-balanced cup full of character and letting the distinctive taste profile of a particular tea to be fully appreciated. See our blog article on the benefits of loose leaf tea.

Click on the links on this page to learn more about buying the best loose leaf tea, making it and enjoying the UK’s national beverage. You can find more information in our blog articles.

Tea guide

Learn all about tea with our free digital tea guide. This 33 page, downloadable and clickable guide enables you to jump to the sections that interest you most and link with relevant information pages and tea sections of our website.