Tea is for Tuesday: The Basics

tea noun \ˈtē\ : a drink that is made by soaking the dried leaves of an Asian plant in hot water.

Also a cleansing and refreshing summer drink served over ice containing countless health benefits. Anyway, Tea is for Tuesday, right? For the next few weeks, we’re here to tell you all about how tea can seriously change your life.

So a lot of steeped substances get tossed carelessly into the “tea” category. But traditionally, the only teas that are truly teas are green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea and pu-erh tea. They are all derived from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis, which is native to China and India and contains unique antioxidants. We know that the antioxidant fad is so last year, but this is the real deal, ladies and gents. And it’s not that your chamomile and cinnamon bark aren’t beneficial, it’s just that they’re something a little different. We’ll get to those later. For now, here’s your crash course in the varieties of Camellia sinensi.


White tea: Uncured and unfermented tea leaves. Essentially plucked right from the plant. Thus, white tea contains the highest concentration of antioxidants.

Green tea: Made with steamed tea leaves, still retaining high antioxidant properties. It may counteract oxidative stress on the brain and reduce the overall risk of neurological disorders.

Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content. It forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, and of course, your big cup of McDonald’s sweet tea.

Pu-erh tea: Made from fermented and aged leaves. It is usually considered a black tea, and the leaves are pressed into little cakes.

Oolong tea: Made by a unique process including the withering the plant under the strong sun and subsequent oxidation before curling and twisting.

Now that you’ve got the basics down, come back next Tuesday for another dose of tea time!

About the Author: Lindsey Singer


Elsie is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsyvania; her writing has appeared in a few university publications, under tables and on the sides of trains. She likes taking Polaroid pictures and planning rooftop picnics.