Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What's the difference between Green, Black and White Tea?

(This photograph is from Andrew McRobb, RBG Kew, at Kew Gardens)
Humans have been using tea leaves for some 4,000 years, and making hot tea for at least 1400 years.  I've been drinking tea for slightly less than that.  But I have no idea what the difference between green tea and black tea and white tea is.  Perhaps you don't either?
Let's sort this out.

Most tea is either from China or India, but both are the same Camellia sinensis plant.  Green, black and white tea are all from this same plant.  It's how they are processed that makes them different.
To make white tea, farmers pick the leaves from the tea shrub early in the year while its buds are still closed.  The leaves are dried, and sometimes baked, but otherwise not processed.  This makes a very light tea.
Green tea leaves are pan fired or steamed, but not allowed to ferment.  Although this process means less caffeine, green tea has the advantage in that it contains the super antioxidant HGCG.
The most processed version is black tea, where the leaves are allowed to ferment, then are dried and packaged.  Black tea is also the strongest of the teas in caffeine. 
Tea (hot or cold) is one of the most popular drinks in the world, and is safe and healthy when used in moderation.
Want to learn more? Kew Gardens in the UK has a good site, and here are helpful explanations at Tazo Tea and Tea Laden.

Author's Note:  If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting Chimp With Pencil by buying one of my books.  Thank you. 


  1. I recently gave up my daily coffee habit during the Lenten season and have switched to tea. I confess I didn't really know the difference between the many types. This was very useful information. I have tried many varieties of tea from around the world, but alas, my Americanized palate seems to prefer the Lipton tea from the grocery aisle. My apologies to India and China. Thank you for your blog. I have already bought your novels, but would be happy to support you by discussing them someday over a cup of treat.

    1. I appreciate the support. Please ignore the little advertisement at the bottom--it's just a new marketing thing I'm doing.


  2. You're going to love Chez Amavida. They have LOTS of different teas. The China Breakfast tea I had there was great.

    1. I'm looking forward to trying that place out. Sounds cool even if I can't pronounce the name.