Note: There now exists a newer version of this post titled Tea Types 2012.
I love tea. And while studying, drinking and writing about tea, I’ve categorized all the teas you’re ever likely to encounter onto one simple poster. There are thousands more rarer types and subtypes, which you can add yourselves via the comments section. This selection is a great start (and it’s all I’m willing to show you). If you learn only one thing from this diagram, it should be that there are thousands of types of tea. Tetley Pyramid Teabags are just the beginning (overpriced sweepings from the factory floor).
Sources: The Story of Tea, 识茶泡茶品茶 (Chinese book), tea blogs too numerous to list, personal experience (teas I drank) and Baidu.
- Darjeeling is coloured ‘teal’ because it is technically a Oolong tea, despite being classified widely as a Black tea.
- Black tea is coloured ‘red’ because the Chinese classify tea by the liquor colour rather than the colour of the dried leaves.
- Pu’er is sometimes considered a separate category because of its popularity. In which case, the other (non-Pu’er) Dark teas are usually ignored. I’ve chosen to include both Pu’er and non-Pu’er Dark teas in this poster.
- There are many more sub-types of each tea. Take Iron Buddha, for example, which has its own characteristics within the class of “Iron Buddha”. Age, oxidation level and unique fragrance are but some of these many characteristics.
- Sundried Green teas such as those made for local consumption in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, are coloured ‘white’ because they are technically white teas, despite the production process having been re-evolved as a shortcut to Green tea production. Sundried Green teas are distinguished further from the other Green teas because, like the vast majority of White teas, they usually use large-leaf Assamica subspecies of tree (Chinese: 古茶树; English: “India Bush”).
- Modern Flower teas are usually classified as Green, White or Black, depending on the leaf colour. These modern Flower teas are (almost) an existing tea blended with flower or flower essence. However, the traditional method of Flower tea manufacture (via a Zaobei leaf), was totally different from that of any of the other six tea categories. I have therefore included Flower teas as a seventh type of tea (to which some tea-lovers may protest). Be quiet. Drink tea.