The most minimally processed tea, leaves are often picked while still in bud form and flash-steamed to halt the oxidization process after picking. They are then either tumble-dried or allowed to sun dry. Known for delicate, subtle flavors. Brew in not-quite boiling (200-degree) water.


Leaves allowed to wither and react with air for several hours before being shaped and tumble-dried. Known for vegetal flavors such as aloe, grass and seaweed. Brew in 160- to 170-degree water.


Leaves allowed to oxidize and wither before drying. Known for savory flavors that range from malty all the way to smoky. Brew in almost boiling water (210 degrees).


Leaves may or may not be oxidized. Before drying, leaves are rolled and intentionally bruised to release enzymes. Known for fruity and floral flavors. Brew in just off boiling (200-degree) water.


Aged, fermented leaves, either raw and uncooked or ripe and cooked. Flavor develops with time; the older the tea, the more complex the flavor. Brew in boiling water.

tea terms

Herbal tea: Any herb, spice or other plant material not from the camellia sinensis plant that is brewed like tea. While often thought of as tea drinkers' noncaffeinated option, some popular herbal "teas," such as the South American yerba maté, do contain caffeine. Brew in boiling water.

Orange pekoe: A grade of tea referring to whole leaf tea made from large, thick tea leaves, not to orange flavoring.

Pekoe: A grade of tea made from young, whole leaves.

Fannings: Fine particles of tea, often used in tea bags.

Dust: Extremely small particles of tea leaves, also used in tea bags.

Powder: A very finely ground tea, such as the powdered Japanese green tea matcha.

Chai: Refers to Masala chai, an Indian black tea with spices. In English, chai has now come to mean the chai latté: black tea and spices steamed with milk and sweetener.

Rooibos: South African herbal tea, also known as red bush tea.

Tisane: An infusion made from hot water and any plant material not from the camellia sinensis plant; technical term for herbal teas.

Kombucha: A fermented, naturally sparkling tea drink.