What is tea

What is tea? Tea is probably the most consumed drink in the world after water. With so many different teas to choose from where do you begin, and what are you actually drinking? Whether you are seeking its health benefits, or just looking to try some new tastes, it can be helpful to actually learn what tea really is.

To be considered “true tea”, a tea must come from the plant camellia sinensis. This is the plant from which all “true teas” originate from. There are also many varieties of the camellia sinensis used to make tea. Tea is like wine, every village has its own strain of tea plants that have different qualities. Two widely grown varieties are C. sinensis v. sinensis and v. assamica.

Camellia sinensis var. sinensis is typically a shrub to small tree, indigenous to China, grown south of the Yangtse river, and widely throughout Asia, including Japan and South Korea. Camellia sinensis var assamica, in contrast can grow from a shrub to a large tree. It is native to the warmer parts of the Assam region of India and can be found in Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and southern China.

fresh tea leaves

The following types of teas originate from this plant, and are therefore considered “true teas.”

  • Black Tea
  • Green Tea
  • White Tea
  • Oolong Tea
  • Pu-erh Tea

As you can see, herbal tea  and rooibos tea are not found on the list.The reason for this is because herbal teas usually contain anything but actual tea leaves! And rooibos tea leaves come from a completely different plant (aspalathus linearis) found generally in South Africa.

Because of this, herbal teas aren’t actually considered teas and are often referred to as tisanes or infusions even though they are often labelled as teas. The same can be said for rooibos teas.

Yet, don’t despair. Herbal teas, have massive health benefits all of their own. So many benefits, in fact, several books have been written about them. Likewise, research is beginning to show that rooibos teas have unique health benefits all of their own as well.

Just always remember that herbal teas and rooibos teas are NOT considered true teas as they do not come from an actual tea plant!


Leave a Reply