Tea was first discovered in China thousands of years ago. It was used for its medicinal qualities in the beginning, and since then has spread to practically every country in the world. It is as common as coffee, and just like coffee, there are several tea types and flavors that can be brewed. From the original tea plant Cameillia sinensis to Argentina’s yerba mate tea and even a blending of different types of teas, it can be hard to know what tea you’re drinking when you randomly pick a flavor next time you’re at the grocery store (or your local fancy tea shop, whatever suits you). This list contains the primary teas so you can get the tea facts straight at your next tea time.

Green Tea

Green tea is produced primarily in China and Japan, where the leaves from the Cameillia sinensis plant are picked, dried, heat-treated to prevent fermentation of the loose leaf green tea. Green tea is notorious for its health benefits such as improving heart health and helping your body relax.

green tea

Photo via Write On Edge

Oolong Tea

Similar to green tea, oolong tea is made from the Cameillia sinensis plant. The difference is that after the leaves are picked, they are purposefully bruised so that the edges turn a reddish color and the surface becomes a light yellow. Thus, oolong tea is a semi-fermented tea with a slightly darker color than green tea.

oolong tea

Photo via Democratic Underground

Black Tea

Again, the same Cameillia sinensis plant is used, however, black tea is fully fermented to give it a stronger smell and flavor. This is the common iced tea that you will find in the deep South mixed with lots of sugar and sometimes lemons.

black tea

Photo via Healthy Food House

Herbal Tea

This is the first tea on our list that doesn’t actually contain tea leaves. Herbal tea is made from dried fruits, herbs and flowers in some flavors. This aromatic and flavorful cup of tea also doesn’t have caffeine, so it’s great for right before you go to sleep to relax your body.

herbal tea

Photo via Team Majesty

Rooibos Tea

Sometimes known as red tea, rooibos tea is made from the South African Red Bush. There is also a variety of green rooibos tea, but both red and green varieties are caffeine free. Some of the health benefits for this type of tea include relieving stomach pain, allergies, and of course, stress.

rooibos tea

Photo via Times City

Mate Tea

Mate tea originates from Argentina, where the yerba mate plant typically comes from. This bold flavored tea is traditionally taken from a gourd with a filtered straw and shared. This tea is great for coffee lovers because of its strong, slightly bitter taste.

yerba mate tea

Photo via The Real Argentina

Blooming Tea

These teas are sometimes called artisan or flowering teas because they open up and bloom while they steep. They are beautifully designed and hand tied by tea artists. To make them, tea artists wrap a bundle of dried tea leaves around dried flowers, which open up while they steep.

blooming tea

Photo via Flickr/Charly Mccafferty

What’s your favorite tea?


Sydney Pereira is a student at New York University trying to change the world while simultaneously making enough money to travel when she's not studying or writing. She's also an athlete, music-lover, and avid news reader. When she's not exploring NYC, fresh flowers from the farmer's market and a cup of hot tea on a lazy Saturday are equally fulfilling.


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