Did you know all tea comes from the same plant? White, black, and green teas (including matcha!) all come from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, but they are anything but the same. What makes these teas different, and how do they stack up in flavor, and health benefits? We’ve got the deets.
HOW IT'S MADE
White: White tea is made from the youngest leaves and/or buds of the camellia sinensis. They undergo minimal processing and are left to wither and dry in either the sun or a carefully controlled environment to ensure minimal oxidation, one of the defining features of white tea.
Green: To make green tea the leaves of the camellia sinensis are harvested and then quickly steamed, ground to make matcha or pan-fired for a toastier flavor.
Black: The most popular tea in Western cultures, black tea is made from camellia sinensis leaves that are allowed to fully oxidize before being heated and dried, leading to black tea’s rich dark color and strong flavor.
White: White tea should be brewed with water that is below boiling temperature—aim for about 170°F to keep the delicate leaves intact and flavorful. Generally steep 4 minutes for leaves, adding a minute or two if the white tea contains buds.
Green: Just below boiling temperature is a good guideline for green tea, but ideal water temp can range from 160°F to 180°F, depending on the type. Most green teas should steep 2-4 minutes. To make hot matcha, use below boiling water and whisk until all of the fine powder has been combined with water.
Black: For black tea, go ahead and let the water boil. 3-5 minutes of steeping time is generally good for black teas, though it may be more or less depending on personal preference.
White: White tea is full of catechins because the leaves are left young and fresh. Catechins have a variety of powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Furthermore, white tea also contains a bit of the l-theanine that produces a feeling of calm alertness (but not as much as matcha!)
Green: Green tea is also full of catechins, has been shown to prevent tooth decay, is full of antioxidants, boosts metabolism, and has even been tied to cancer prevention. How does matcha stack up? Take whatever benefits your average green tea has, and feel free to multiply it a few times.
Black: Black tea is full of trace vitamins, and because the leaves of black tea oxidize fully, they are rich in antioxidants found to prevent dementia lower blood cholesterol levels. It is also helpful in reducing stress hormone levels and relieving headaches.
Though the popular notion is that the darker the tea, the higher the caffeine content, that’s really not the case at all. Teas that are grown in the shade, like matcha, often have a slightly higher caffeine content than teas that are exposed to extensive sunlight.
White: Delicate and fresh, white tea’s subtle flavor generally has a slight sweetness to it. Hold the sweetener to appreciate its gentle aroma.
Green: Green tea ranges from grassy and toasty to an earthy sweet flavor (matcha, anyone?). Most green teas stand up to sweeteners like honey and sugar, but not milk. Because matcha uses the entire leaf and has such a rich flavor, it tastes pretty great either straight up or blended with almond milk.
Black: Bold and rich, black teas can range from savory to sweet and often have some bitterness to them. Because of its strong flavor profile, it’s pretty accepted practice to add milk and sugar to black tea.