Differences between white, green, oolong and black tea
Tea is the agricultural product of the leaves, leaf buds, and internodes of the Camellia sinensis plant. There are at least six varieties of tea: white, yellow, green, oolong, black and pu-erh of which the most commonly found on the market are white, green, oolong and black. The main difference between these teas lies in the way they are processed.
White and green tea
White tea is made from the buds and young leaves while green tea is made from mature leaves. White tea and green tea are not oxidized. This helps in the retention of the naturally occurring phytochemicals (e.g. catechins) of the tea leaf.
Oolong and black tea
Oolong tea and black tea are made from mature leaves. To alter the flavour profile, oolong and black tea leaves are bruised and broken into bits respectively, before they are left to oxidise. Oolong tea is less oxidised as compared to black tea. The oxidation process also converts catechins into other beneficial phytochemicals (e.g. theaflavins and thearubigins). Hence, the content and type of phytochemicals present in oolong and black teas generally differ from those of white and green teas.
Benefits of drinking tea
For a refreshing change from drinking plain water, try a cup of tea instead. Teas are rich in beneficial phytochemicals such as those mentioned above. The phytochemicals present in teas have antioxidant activities and hence can benefit health. Remember to omit or add less sugar when preparing tea, or choose ready-to-drink teas that are unsweetened or sweetened with less sugar for a healthier beverage.