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6 Most Common Types of Chinese Tea

Tea is not just a famous hot beverage. It is another name of love for tea lovers. Ancient Chinese people came up with this popular hot beverage. It is now a core part of Chinese culture. People enjoy tea at various festivals with their loved ones. It is a part and parcel of people’s daily life. The original Chinese tea has evolved into various types of tea in different provinces. Different teas are unique in their taste, flavor and processing technique. Some of the top flavored teas carry the identity of Chinese culture and they are represented in front of the global arena. What are the types of Chinese tea? Let’s discuss. 

How many types of Chinese tea are there?

There are mainly 6 types of Chinese tea available. These include green tea, white tea, yellow tea, red tea, oolong tea, and dark tea. Among these, green tea is popular for its medicinal purpose. It is made through tender processing to bring out the best flavour. Yellow tea is almost like green tea and is widely famous for its soothing after-effect. White tea is also used for its various medicinal purposes in China. Red tea is mostly served with sweets and other snacks at house parties. Oolong tea has a unique floral and fruit aroma. Finally, dark tea is made from a special kind of tea plant and produced through a special processing technique. Let’s discuss more about the core main types of Chinese tea and benefits. 

6 Most Common Types of Chinese Tea

ALT:  6 most common types of Chinese tea 

Chinese Green Tea: 绿茶 (Lǜ Chá)

Chinese Green Tea

ALT: Chinese Green Tea 

Chinese Green Tea stands out as one of the most widely consumed and appreciated teas globally. It is a type of unfermented tea, avoiding the oxidation process that characterizes other types of tea production. This tea boasts a sweet and light flavor. Its color spectrum ranges from yellow-green to green, and it is known for its strong and enduring fragrance.

The history of Chinese Green Tea trace back to 2737 B.C. during the reign of Emperor Shennong. Legend has it that the emperor discovered the refreshing and sweet taste of tea accidentally while drinking water boiled with a tea leaf during one of his distant journeys. This historic incident marked the serendipitous discovery of tea.

Example: Dragon Well (Longjing) tea stands out as the premium and well-known Chinese Green Tea. 

Oolong Tea: 乌龙茶 (Wū Lóng Chá) 

types of chinese tea: Oolong Tea

ALT: Chinese Oolong Tea

Chinese Oolong Tea, distinguished by its semi-oxidized nature, lies somewhere between green and black teas. The term “Oolong” originates from the Chinese word “Wulong,” specifically used to describe this unique tea. Oolong tea, often described as dark green, can exhibit varying colors, ranging from blacker to greener.

Oolong tea has a versatile taste, influenced by the tea master’s technique. In general, it has sweet, floral, grassy, and toasty notes, with colors ranging from green to brown to gold. The birthplace of Oolong tea has multiple theories, including its origin in the Wuyi Mountains region or the Anxi tea plant.

Example: Guan Yin, Formosa, and Pouchong are notable examples of Oolong tea.

White Tea: 白茶 (Bái Chá)

types of chinese tea: White Tea

ALT: Chinese white tea 

White tea from the Camellia sinensis plant uses young, minimally-processed leaves that are often unopened buds. It undergoes minimal processing, primarily drying, which makes it a pure and famous Chinese tea.

White tea’s flavor profile is sweet, with a light taste featuring floral and fruity blends. Its brewed color ranges from pale yellow to light orange. White Tea is primarily harvested in China’s Fujian province.

Example:  White Tea varieties include the rare Silver Needle, Moonlight White Tea, White Peony, Tribute Eyebrow, among others.

Yellow Tea: 黄茶 (Huáng Chá)

types of chinese tea: White Tea

Alt: Chinese Yellow Tea

Chinese Yellow Tea, a rarity found mainly in China, represents a lightly-fermented tea. It undergoes slight oxidation, giving it a unique color and taste. Yellow tea is esteemed for its silky taste and the distinct process it undergoes.

Yellow Tea’s flavor profile is characterized by a liquor-like color and a sweet, floral, and bright taste. It originates from the provinces of Hunan, Sichuan, and Zhejiang in China. The majority of the world’s supply found in the mountains of these provinces.

Examples: Yin Zhen from Hunan, Meng Ding Huang Ya, and Meng Ding Huang Ya.

Red Tea: 红茶 (Hóng Chá)

types of chinese tea: White Tea

ALT: Chinese red tea

The next one to our list of types of Chinese tea in Chinese is Red Tea. It is recognized for its strong flavor resulting from increased oxidation. It is also known as Black Tea in Europe. Black Tea is distinct for its robust taste and prominent scent.

Black Tea’s flavor profile is characterized by a stronger and heavier taste compared to more delicate teas like White Tea and Green Tea. The Chinese tea leaves exhibits a reddish color. The first Black Tea, Lapsang Souchong, originated from Wuyi Mountain in Fujian province during the late Ming Dynasty around 1590.

Example: Xiao Zhong Black Tea, Gongfu Black Tea, Yunnan Dianhong Black Tea, Assam Black Tea, etc.

Dark Tea / Pu-erh Tea: 普洱茶 (Pǔ’ěr Chá)

types of chinese tea: White Tea

ALT: Chinese dark tea

Chinese Dark Tea, also known as Hei Cha, is a hidden gem in Western China. What sets Dark Tea apart is its post-fermentation process, where tea leaves undergo microbial fermentation after the standard processing. Pu-erh Tea, a subcategory of Dark Tea, is darker in color and smoother in taste.

Dark Tea’s flavor profile is characterized by a strong, unique, and earthy taste that mellows and improves with aging. Similar to Black Tea, Dark Tea often has a reddish color and a robust aroma. 

Example: Liu Bao Tea from Cangwu county, Guangxi province, Hunan Dark Tea, Sichuan Dark Tea, etc.

Bonus: Chinese Floral Tea is also a kind of tea that is known as flowering tea or blooming tea, captivates with its visual and aromatic appeal. These teas are crafted by picking, drying, and processing buds, petals, or flowers of various plants.

The flavor profile of Floral Teas varies depending on the flower used. Generally tart and fruity, these teas offer a sweet and subtle scent with a light-to-dark color. Originating from the Yunnan province in China, Floral Teas provide a unique and sensory tea experience.

The History of Chinese Tea

Chinese tea, with roots dating back nearly 5,000 years, offers a captivating journey. Legend has it that Emperor Shen Nong discovered tea when wild leaves drifted into his boiling water. Initially a medicinal brew, it evolved into a cherished daily pleasure. Tea ceremonies blossomed in China and Japan, emphasizing simplicity and imperfection. European fascination led to trade, particularly in Britain, where it sparked a tea craze that impacted the economy. 

The East India Company’s influence reshaped the global tea landscape, with India emerging as a major producer. Chinese wedding traditions still include tea as a symbol of betrothal, and various tea types, from green to Pu-Erh, offer diverse flavors and aromas. Chinese tea’s enduring legacy spans cultures, centuries, and continents, shaping history and tradition in every cup.

What is the history of Chinese tea ceremony?

The Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony is a cherished tradition that dates back over a thousand years. It’s a way for the bride and groom to show respect and gratitude to their parents and relatives. In this ceremony, both the bride and groom serve tea to both sets of parents, symbolizing the union of their families.

The ceremony typically includes the following steps:

  • The bride and groom stand on opposite sides, with their parents seated.
  • The order of serving tea is essential and shows respect for seniority, starting with the parents, grandparents, grand uncles and aunts, uncles and aunts, and then elder siblings.
  • Tea is served with two hands holding the saucer and a slight bow or kneel to show respect.
  • Those receiving the tea should hold the saucer as the tea cup itself can be hot.
  • After drinking the tea, the gaiwan is taken back with two hands by holding the saucer.
  • After serving the tea, gifts are presented to the bride and groom, usually in red envelopes.


Why Chinese tea is so popular? 

China’s influential role in historical tea trade routes and its reputation as a major tea exporter have further solidified its position. The variety, cultural importance, and historical legacy collectively make China synonymous with the world of tea. Companies like Heung Pin is popular Chinese tea company. 

What is the main tea in China? 

China is renowned for producing a wide variety of teas, and it’s challenging to pinpoint a single “main” tea. However, green tea is often considered one of the most traditional Chinese tea. The country is known for its diverse green tea varieties, such as Longjing (Dragon Well), Bi Luo Chun, and Tie Guan Yin.

Which is the best Chinese tea?

There are many famous teas in China. Let’s take a look at the list of the best Chinese teas in the next section below. For example, 

  • Baihao Yinzhen (Silver Needle)
  • Qimen HongCha (Keemun)
  • Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe)
  • Tieguanyin (Iron Goddess of Mercy)
  • Taiping Houkui (Peaceful Monkey King)
  • Lu’an Gua Pian (Lu’an Melon Seed)
  • Sheng Puerh.


Hope you got an idea about the popular types of Chinese tea. Different species of tea plants are grown in different provinces of China. The whole tea industry of China contributes significantly to the Chinese local economy. Also, the Chinese tea industry dominates the global tea manufacturing companies. The rich heritage of Chinese tea consists of a diversified collection of tea.

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