tea colours

Six tea colors and their meaning

As is well known, not all teas are the same!


And by tea, I mean the infusion drink made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis. And not the various other infusion drinks made from different fruits, leaves, and herbs. In China, tea is divided into different colors depending on the degree of oxidation and processing. In Europe we have adopted this color classification for the most part, but not in every case.


According to the traditional Chinese tea colour classification, they are classified as follows:


White Tea


The leaves are picked, withered, and dried without further processing. Only young shoots and leaves are used, they still have a white fluff, hence the name.

Actually, white tea is not more valuable than green tea, but since much less of it is produced, it is more difficult to obtain and therefore more expensive. In Sri Lanka, white tea is called “Silver-Tips” by the way.



White tea


Green tea


After plucking and wilting, the oxidation is interrupted with heat. In China, this is done with dry heat. In Japan, on the other hand, with moist heat. This is the reason for the difference in colour between various green teas. Japanese green tea has a fresh green colour, Chinese green tea is darker.



tea colours
Left: Chinese greentea
Right: Japanese greentea


Yellow tea


Lightly oxidized tea, something between green and oolong tea. This tea is the result of a mistake, it was supposed to be green tea, but then it started to oxidize. But because it tasted so good, it was still produced. In Europe, this tea is very difficult to obtain.


Blue-green tea


Also called Oolong tea, it’s something between green tea and black tea, which means it’s slightly oxidized. Between not oxidized and completely oxidized there are many intermediate stages. So, there are many different Oolong teas. Only slightly oxidized tea has a blue-green color when it is dry. Less oxidized Oolong tea reminds of green tea, more strongly oxidized Oolong tea reminds of black tea.



tea colours


Red tea


Red tea is completely oxidized and as a dry leaf is black, but as an infusion it is reddish. In Europe, we call it black tea ?



Red tea



Black tea


Black tea is called Puh-erh tea in China because of its dark, almost black infusion. It is also the only fermented tea and has an earthy taste. It is often sold as pressed tea – in the form of a tea brick or a tea nest. The longer this tea matures, the more valuable it is – and the more expensive it becomes.


tea colours



It’s worth tasting these different teas. Of course, they vary in smell and taste. There is certainly something for everyone!


Which types of tea have you already tried?



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