There are many definitions for tea categories. Here are only the basics of the tea types.
White tea is the simplest tea. It is done by picking, withering and then drying the leaves in the sun.
According to traditional Chinese medicine white tea cools the body.
Green tea(lü cha, 绿茶 or 緑茶)
Green tea is non-oxidised tea. Usually the buds, early picking date and the beauty of the leaves are respected a lot in green teas.
According to traditional Chinese medicine green tea cools the body.
Yellow tea(huang cha, 黃茶)
Yellow tea processing is similar to green tea processing with the added “menghuang” step where the leaves stay wet for some time.
Black tea(red tea in East-Asia, hong Cha, 红茶 or 紅茶)
Red tea is fully oxidised tea. Commonly known in the West as black tea, although in asian languages it is called red tea.
According to traditional Chinese medicine red tea warms the body(according to TCM*).
Dark tea(black tea in East-Asia, hei Cha, 黑茶)
The most important difference in dark tea processing to other teas is the post-fermentation step where the leaves are gathered to big piles and fermented in moist and warm conditions for 1–2 months. This process is caused by microbes in the leaves and should not be confused with the oxidation of black tea. Post fermentation or “wet-piling” is a similar process to decomposing, hence the earthy smell and taste. Also shou (ripe) pu’er is post-fermented but it’s not dried over a pinewood fire or compressed to big baskets like Liu Bao.
According to traditional Chinese medicine dark tea warms the body except Liu Bao is cooling or warming depending on the situation.
Pu’er comes from Yunnan province located in southwest China and the neighbouring areas in Burma and Laos. Yunnan is a mountainous area with rich natural resources and largest diversity of plant and animal life in China. It is said to be the birthplace of the tea plant and it is the home of the oldest tea trees alive.
Sheng (raw) pu’er
Sheng pu’er is picked, withered, pan-fired, rolled and sun-dried. This material is called rough tea(“maocha”, 毛茶) and can be left as it is, compressed to cakes or processed further to shou(ripe) pu’er.
Shou (ripe) pu’er
Shou pu’er is done by wet-piling the “mao cha”. After that it can be left as it is or compressed to cakes.
After the initial processing pu’er is often aged to improve the taste and medicinal properties.
According to traditional Chinese medicine generally younger than 15 year old sheng pu’er cools the body. On the other hand shou and older than 15 year old sheng pu’er warm the body.
Oolong(wulong, 乌龙 or 烏龍)
Oolong tea is partially oxidised tea and involves complicated and skillful processing. Important aspects which separate oolong from other teas are roasting and tossing of the leaves.
According to traditional Chinese medicine greener oolongs cool and darker oolongs warm the body.