The World’s Most Popular Beverages

About half of the American population drinks tea, although surprisingly, most of it, 85%, is iced and in bottles.

Most loose teas and almost all teas in teabags are blends. Because tea from the same estate will taste different in different harvests, the aim of blending is to ensure a consistent taste from season to season so the customer can rely on the product. Blending is also done for price purposes: more expensive, tastier tea may cover the inferior taste of cheaper tea.

All tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant: it is the processing after plucking that determines which of four categories the tea falls into:

  • Black tea is substantially oxidized in a process that takes from two weeks to one month.
  • Oolong tea oxidation is two to three days—somewhere between the standards for green tea and black tea.
  • Green tea is oxidized very briefly by application of heat—either with steam, a traditional Japanese method; or by drying on hot pans, the traditional Chinese method.
  • White tea undergoes no oxidation.
All tea has antioxidants, but the more processed the tea is, the less the concentration. Thus, along the continuum, white tea has the most, followed by green, oolong and black. However, most experts agree that it’s the amount of tea that you drink, not the color, that will yield the greatest health benefits. Eight cups a day is the recommend amount.