Though college students are often stereotyped as sleepless coffee-drinkers, growing numbers of us are gravitating towards tea as a beverage of choice. Not only is tea healthier than most coffee drinks, but it also contains less caffeine, and has thousands of varieties to choose from. In this beginner's guide to tea, we'll outline the 6 types of tea you should try.

Some background on tea:

Tea is brewed from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, and includes 5 varieties: Green, Black, White, Oolong, and Pu'erh. Herbal teas, though not technically considered tea, are created from a blend of leaves, fruits, bark, roots or flowers. 

Tea Types: 

1. Green Tea

Green tea makes up almost all of the tea grown in Japan. Some well-known varieties include Sencha, Tencha, and Matcha which is stone-ground from Tencha tea leaves and a popular addition to many Japanese confections. The flavor of green tea ranges, but can be described as somewhat grassy or toasty. When brewed, its color ranges from yellow to green. Green tea is a good type of tea for beginners because it is fairly mild. This tea also boasts many health benefits such as providing antioxidants, body fat reduction, deodorizing bad breath, and decreasing blood pressure. It typically contains caffeine in low amounts.

tea, herb, green tea, matcha
Sam Jesner

2. Black Tea

Black tea is by far the most popular type of tea in the Western world. Some common brews include English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, and Afternoon Tea. There are also many "blended" black teas that include other components, such as Earl Grey, Chai, and fruit or floral scented tea. Black tea has been said to promote hearth health, reduce blood sugar, and improve digestive tract issues. The brew color ranges from brown to deep red. In the Southeastern U.S., black tea is the basis for many sweetened iced teas. It is the only style of tea that is typically consumed with milk, sugar, or other sweeteners.

tea, coffee, espresso, milk
Julie Lau

3. White Tea   

White tea is the most unprocessed of all the tea types. It has a very delicate flavor and aroma, making it ideal for novice tea drinkers. Some of the most well known varieties of white tea are White Peony and Silver Needle. White teas produce pale green or yellow brews, and tend to be less caffeinated than other types of tea. This type of tea is claimed to have anti-aging properties, prevent osteoporosis, and protect teeth from bacteria. 

Ann arbor, caffeine, white chocolate tea, swiss ivory tea, London Fog Tea, London Fog, tea, teaspressa
Chloe Pawloski

4. Oolong Tea

Oolong is less common in the West, but highly revered in countries like China and Taiwan. Its flavors range from light to full-bodied, floral to grassy, and sweet to toasty. The colors can be green, golden, or brown. Some say this tea sharpens their thinking skills and increases mental alertness. Additionally, Oolong has many of the same benefits of its counterparts: counteracting tooth decay, and reducing the risk of heart disease and Type II Diabetes. 

Mackenzie Huggins

5. Pu'erh Tea

Pronounced "poo-er," this last type of tea is a fermented Chinese tea that requires very little processing. It may aide in weight loss, cholesterol reduction, enhance eyesight and circulation, and soothe hangovers. Flavors are variable, and range between sweet, bitter, floral, mellow, woody, astringent, sour, earthy, watery, or even tasteless.

tea, afternoon tea, tea time, green tea, tea cup, tea pot
Jocelyn Hsu

6. Herbal Tea

No, they're not true "teas" because they aren't made from tea leaves, but they are still healthy alternatives. Many herbal teas are smooth, mellow, and and balanced in flavor. Peppermint is the best-selling type, and other types include chamomile, hibiscus, and rooibos. These teas are commonly combined with honey or lemon as soothing treatments for the common cold. The teas themselves may reduce pain and soreness, prevent chronic disease, and help you unwind. 

Loose tea
Mackenzie Huggins

Tip for beginners:

The teabag should be steeped (soaked) in boiling water for 3-5 minutes before drinking. Over-steeping can produce a bitter taste, while under-steeping will dull the flavor and cause you to miss out on some of the health benefits. If you are unsure of how long to steep, check the tea package for instructions. 

Now equipped with your knowledge from this beginner's guide to tea, we encourage you to try these diverse and delicious varieties. Welcome to the world of tea!