There are many types of Chinese tea, each with unique tastes and health-enhancing properties. Here are some benefits and practical uses of five common teas made from the Camellia sinensis plant.
Made from Camellia sinensis leaves, green tea has potent antioxidants called catechins, which help eliminate free radicals responsible for DNA damage. Because green tea is minimally processed compared with other teas, the catechin concentration is higher. Drinking green tea can minimize acne, and the leaves can be applied as a facial mask.
Higher in caffeine than most other teas, black tea can help with mental alertness. Black tea is more oxidized than other teas, giving it a darker color and stronger flavor.
The oxidation process involves exposing the tea leaves to humid, oxygen-rich air, but the process does not destroy the antioxidants. Like green tea, black tea helps keep skin clear. Rinse your hair with black tea to keep it strong.
Partially fermented, oolong tea has depth and smokiness, while keeping a crisp, light taste. Oolong tea is made from the leaves, buds, and stems of Camellia sinensis. Often sold in little balls that unfurl in hot water, oolong is known to fight tooth decay, and can treat skin allergies like eczema. It can also improve mental alertness.
Pu’er is a fully fermented tea that gets richer in flavor the longer it is left to ripen before brewing. But it can develop mold and become stale, so smell it and do a small taste test before gulping a cup. Made from the Camellia sinensis leaves and stems, pu’er tea does not have as much caffeine as other teas, and is good for lowering cholesterol.
A light tea with a floral, fresh, slightly crisp taste, white tea is made from the young leaves and buds of Camellia sinensis. White tea is the least processed of all teas, leaving it with little caffeine, and with an antioxidant power that is greater than green tea. In ancient China, only the empress was allowed to drink white tea.