There are two misconceptions about tea that are pet hates of mine:
(1) White tea is just tea that has milk in it.
(2) Green tea is a super healthy version of tea that is good for you, unlike “normal” tea.

I could talk through these two separately but actually I think I may as well talk through them both together as they both boil down to more or less the same thing: there are different types of tea but they all come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis.  Every time I think I’ve found every type, I come across a new one, but these types include:

  • White
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Oolong
  • Pu Erh
  • Black

So, what are all these types?  Well, I’ll go through them in order.

  • White tea is where the young leaves and/or buds are picked, steamed and dried.  This tea has the highest level of nutrients.  It has a much milder and much less bitter flavour than other types of tea.  White tea is rarely drunk with milk in it.
  • Yellow tea is one of the rarest types of tea produced from buds and leaves.  They are rolled/shaped and dried.
  • Green tea is made from leaves that are panfried or steamed, then rolled/shaped and dried.
  • Oolong tea (sometimes known as blue tea) is not fully fermented, it is bruised by shaking, briefly oxidised and then panfried/dried.
  • Pu Erh tea goes through a natural fermentation process before being dried.
  • Black tea is rolled, fully oxidised and then fried/dried.  This has the lowest level of nutrients, although some of the research papers I’ve looked at suggest that the difference in the level of nutrients between types isn’t that big (although it’s really not my area of research but if you want a list of references for interesting papers, do ask).

So, incase you’ve got to the end of that and wondered how that answers the question at all.  White tea is not black tea with milk in it, it’s tea made from the same plant but made in a different way and using young leaves and/or buds instead of older leaves.  Also, although Green tea does have a higher level of nutrients and other Good Things than Black tea, White tea has even more (and in my opinion tends to tastes better!) and there isn’t anything particularly magical about Green tea, all types of tea come from the same plant.