Originated in China as a medicinal drink, tea has become a national drink in China and serves as an important part of Chinese culture.
As the world's second-most popular beverage, after water, tea has around 1,500 varieties in China. They are divided into seven main categories:
Green tea has historically been Asia's most famous tea and is popular in the West as well. The secret of green tea lies in the fact that it is rich in antioxidant sucatechin polyphenols, specifically epigallocatechin gallate, that fight cancer without any negative side effects. There are indications that drinking green tea also reduces cholesterol levels and may help to control blood clots.
There are dozens of variations, each with its own characteristic, from very sweet and light to dark and dry. It's possible to find the perfect match for every taste preference. Famous black teas are Qimen Black, Yunnan Black, Lapsang Souchong and Minnan Black (also known as Tan Yang Kongfu).
The spelling "oolong" (also "wulong") is a phonetic transcription of the Chinese characters, approximating to the sound of spoken Chinese, or more specifically, Mandarin. The correct transcription is "wulong cha" in pinyin. It includes the most famous Wuyi Rock teas and different types of tieguanyin.
Pu'er tea is grown in southern Yunnan province. The tea is famous for its health benefits, history and post-fermentation characteristics. Pu'er has both "raw" and "cooked" varieties. The raw version exhibits a green colour and matures over a number of years. The cooked variety is black in colour and has an earthy flavor.
Not as popular as other varieties, but good alternatives are Silver Needle and White Peony, and a white tea from Yunnan, a fermented white tea cake and white tea bricks. It contains a greater number of antioxidants than other teas.
Nowadays, yellow tea is only found in a few locations in China, mainly because it is difficult to process. Only three varieties are well known: Meng Ding from Sichuan province, Junshan Silver Needle from Hunan and the Huoshan Yellow Buds from Anhui. Both the leaves and the brewed tea are yellow-green in colour. The taste is fresh, with a slight hint of pepper.
Scented teas are made by combining high quality tea leaves with the fragrances and tastes of blossoms, for example, jasmine or pomelo flowers.