Drinks Photo Credit: Western Living

The Ultimate Guide to Tea

What's the difference between black tea, green tea and rooibos? Beloved the world over, the humble cup of tea has evolved from its original medicinal origins in China into the comforting brew we know and love today. Here, four of its most familiar types.

Black The most common tea in the West, black tea is withered, fermented and dried to produce the deep amber-coloured drink that has become synonymous with teatime. This full-bodied tea can be compared to red wine: it pairs well with richly flavoured foods including meat, curries and desserts (especially chocolate).

Think: English Breakfast, Orange Pekoe, Darjeeling, Earl Grey

Green Green tea skips the fermentation step to produce a tea that is more delicate in taste and lighter in colour. If black tea is similar to red wine, then green tea is more like white—better suited to pairing with seafood and salads, in addition to unsweetened pastries like croissants.

Think: Matcha, Sencha, Gunpowder, Maghrebi Mint, Jasmine

tea party
A modern tea party needs a modern take on traditional design, like these classically shaped beauties from Royal Albert and Wedgewood.

Herbal Technically not a tea, as it is made from an infusion of various fruits, herbs, and/or spices (and not leaves from the tea plant), herbal tea is a caffeine-free beverage. Herbal teas can often have pronounced flavours that may compete with many foods, so are best served after eating or with a food pairing in the same flavour family (e.g., blueberry tea with a blueberry-based dessert).

Think: Chamomile, Peppermint, Liquorice

Rooibos Rooibos, which derives its name from the red bush plant it comes from, is another caffeine-free drink often considered a tea. Grown in South Africa, it undergoes a fermentation process that enhances its flavour and produces the distinctive reddish-brown colour it’s known for. Its natural hint of sweetness pairs nicely with pastries, chocolate and fruit.

Think: Red Bush Chai, Green Rooibos

Need some snacks to go with your hot cup of tea? Check out these sweet and savoury tea party recipes.

 

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