Home > Food & Drink > Tea

What's the difference between green tea, black tea, red tea and white tea? Scroll to the bottom of this page for the buying guide.


In Pursuit of Tea
Tea purveyor Sebastian Beckwith brings small-estate teas to America with his online tea shop. He also teaches a botanical medicine class with celebrity health expert Dr. Andrew Weil.
Shipping: USA & International

Adagio Teas - Free Shipping with $50 Adagio Teas
Adagio combines the convenience of the tea bag with the taste of high end gourmet teas. While most bagged teas contain leftover tea leaf dust and scraps, Adagio only uses whole tea leaves in their tea bags. In a blind taste test of bagged teas conducted by epicurious.com, Adagio's came out on top. They've also taken bottled teas upmarket by using real tea leaves, not powders or concentrates in their unsweetened, additive-free collection. Adagio also carries loose leaf.
Free shipping on $50 orders (except Alaska, Hawaii and rural zip codes.)
Shipping: USA & some International

Ito En
This ultra-refined tea shop on New York's Madison Avenue is owned by Japan's largest tea merchant, Ito En. Celebrity customers have included Yoko Ono, Bianca Jagger and Diane Sawyer. They're known primarily for their green teas, but they carry all types. Their gift sets are beautifully packaged.

Imperial Tea Court
Imperial Tea Court proprietor Roy Fong specializes in fine estate teas from China. He operates two locations in San Francisco's Chinatown and in the city's gourmet food mecca, the Ferry Building Marketplace. John McIntire, the former manager of the Greatful Dead, has reportedly jetted into San Francisco when shipments of Roy Fong's rare Lotus Heart green tea arrives. Other customers have included San Francisco celebrity chef Alice Waters (of Chez Panisse).

Upton Tea Imports - Hopkinton, Massachusetts

SerendipiTea - Long Island City, New York.

Teance - Berkeley, California.

The Art of Tea - Beverly Hills, California.

Rishi Tea - Carries organic & fair trade teas, including 7 teas that won First Place Awards for Best Tea at the 2008 World Tea Championship. Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Special Teas - Stratford, Connecticut tea store featured in InStyle, Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple and Oprah's Favorite Things 2004.

Mitea - Chicago, Illinois importers of rare estate teas.

Tea Types

When a freshly picked tea leaf is exposed to air, it begins to turn brown. This process is called fermentation or oxidation. The longer a tea is fermented, the heartier the flavor and the darker the color.

  • White Tea - Not fermented, so it is the lightest, most delicately flavored tea. White tea comes from young tea leaves that are picked early, when they still have a coating of silvery white hairs on them. The delicate, vegetal flavors of green and white teas are fast gaining in popularity over the more familiar black teas.

  • Green Tea - Like white tea, but the tea leaves are more mature, giving the tea a vegetal or herbaceous taste.

  • Oolong Tea - Semi-fermented. Tastes somewhere between a green and a black tea.

  • Black Tea - Fermented. Has a strong, hearty taste. This is what most of us think of as traditional "tea". The Chinese call it red tea.

  • Herbal "Tea" - Technically, this is not true tea. Herbs, such as chamomile or lemon verbena, are used instead of tea leaves.

Drinking Tips

Buy tea in the whole, loose-leaf form. Avoid teabags -- they just contain leftover tea dust and scraps.

You shouldn't need to add anything to a high quality cup of tea. If you find you need to add lemon, sugar, honey or milk to your tea to make it taste better, it could be because it's an inferior tea.