Tea 101

Beverages, Nutrition Stripped

TEA 101 | Nutrition Stripped

Tea holds a very special place in my life. I know some of you may be thinking it’s that odd one food or drink can hold so much space in a person’s life, but it’s true. It’s far more than a hot beverage, it’s the ritual, the routine, the present moment-ness and mindfulness cultivated during making tea and sharing tea with loved ones that makes it so special. I truly enjoy the whole process of heating the kettle, waiting to hear the whistle, pouring the hot water, and letting it rest before snuggling my hands around the mug and enjoying a cup. So whether tea already has a special place in your life, or you’re just starting to learn more about drinking tea, I hope this post guides you in picking out your favorites. All it takes is your favorite mug, hot water, and the tea. Then, it’s all about enjoying the moment. Cheers!

FREE BONUS: Get the downloadable 411 on Tea ebook here!

what’s your tea?

Black Tea

Black teas are one of the most popular varieties of tea here in North America but also in other tea loving cultures around the world! Black tea is made by rolling the tea leaves and bruising them, which causes rapid oxidization of the leaf (for example, think about when you cut into an apple or avocado and how it quickly turns brown.This is oxidization!). Oxidation helps increase the flavor and boldness of the tea leaf, which is s then dried and turned into a powder for tea bags or left in it’s loose leaf form.

Black tea does contain caffeine that is about half the amount of a standard cup of coffee, so if you’re watching your caffeine intake, I would limit black tea or opt for an herbal tea with no caffeine.

  • My favorite: London Fog (a mix of earl grey tea + lavender + almond milk + honey)
  • Taste: bold, earthy, astringent, citrusy, slightly fruity, robust

Make it: Brew black tea with near-boiling water and let steep for 2-4 minutes

Herbal tea

First off, herbal tea isn’t technically a “tea” as it’s a combination of spices, herbs, flowers, or any of those mentioned combined with a type of tea. For example, peppermint green tea is a combination of mint and green tea leaves. These are fantastic teas for those of you just starting out drinking tea as they tend to have more familiar flavors and can be fruity, naturally sweet, and delicious. But don’t underestimate the power of drinking herbal teas. There are many herbal/medicinal grade teas made from herbs, spices, and flowers that make an incredible addition to your tea cupboard.

Green tea

Green tea is extremely popular in Asian cultures, where tea is not just a beverage, it’s a special time to relax and are the ingredient in tea ceremonies. Unlike black tea, when tea leaves are picked, they’re immediately heated or steamed to halt the aging and browning/oxidization process resulting in a more delicate tea. Some producers also pan fry or pan cook the tea leaves, which adds a nutty flavor to it. Green tea contains caffeine as well, equivalent to about 1/4 cup of standard coffee.

  • My favorite: plain green tea with local and raw honey stirred in last minute
  • Taste: sweet, delicate, grassy, nutty
  • Make it: Brew green tea with water that’s just starting to steam (180 degrees F) and let steep for 2 minutes.

Matcha Green Tea Latte | Nutrition Stripped

Matcha tea

Matcha is my favorite tea, if not a close second to the rooibos variety. Matcha is loaded with antioxidants and chlorophyll and the flavor is unlike any tea I’ve ever tried. Matcha green tea is often very popular in Asian cultures and used as ceremonial or imperial grade during tea ceremonies. Matcha tea can be used in teas, baked goods, and food recipes due to it’s pasty texture. Unlike other teas, you’ll be drinking the entire leaf since it’s ground into a powder, instead of drinking the tea “water” that comes from steeping tea leaves. This unique characteristic gives matcha a higher fiber content and more nutrients for your body to absorb.

  • My favorite: Matcha Tea Latte or add a teaspoon in a green smoothie
  • Taste: very sweet, grassy, nutty, very delicate, thick in texture.
  • Make it: Try my Matcha Tea Latte, with a step by step tutorial on making this delicate tea


White teas are the least oxidized of all the teas, which is why many of them don’t have much color when brewed. They have very delicate flavor profiles, contain high antioxidants, and are typically one of the more expensive teas. Contains caffeine.

  • My favorite: plain, silver needle
  • Taste: can be sweet, very delicate, floral
  • Make it: Brew white teas with just hot water (about 175 degrees F) for 4-5 minutes.


Oolongs are partially or semi-oxidized,, which is why many of them don’t have much color when brewed. They’re also one of the most complex in flavor. Oolong teas can come in green or darker varieties, their flavors will change depending on what variety and their steeping time. One thing I love about oolong tea is that you can find them rolled into small balls or infusion pellets which expand and flower when boiling water is poured over them. These are beautiful to display in a clear tea steeping pot. Contains caffeine.

  • My favorite: plain
  • Taste: can be sweet, robust like a black tea, very earthy or gentle and floral
  • Make it: Brew greener oolong teas with just steaming water (about 185 degrees F) for 3-4 minutes and darker oolongs with boiling water for 6 minutes.

Why tea is so good for you!

  1. Fights free radicals
  2. Is a great low-calorie or no-calorie drink to enjoy daily (just safely and moderately)
  3. Green tea may improve exercise endurance
  4. Reduces cardiovascular disease
  5. Helps fight cancer (read more here and here and here and here and here)
  6. Is hydrating
  7. May help reduce metabolic syndrome and reduce waist size circumference
  8. May be helpful for those with diabetes
  9. Increases bone density
  10. May help reduce oxidative damage from smokers
  11. Improves brain health
  12. Tastes amazing!

FAVORITE SUPPLIES, any tea lover needs:

Tea: I love Yogi tea, Traditional Medicinals (especially for herbals), here for matcha

Mugs: here, monogrammed here, glass sets

Tea pots: cast iron here

Tea kettles: white enamel long spout, white enamel regular, glass here

Special tools: mesh tea ball, or a tea set when you want to get fancy!

So there you have it! My quick 411 on tea varieties. I hope you found this educational, and if you’re not a tea lover, I urge you to try one out!

xx McKel

Share your thoughts

  • This is such a comprehensive article on tea. I love the depth and how much information you gave us. I love a good cup of tea and enjoy trips to Teavana to learn more about the different types. Thanks for sharing.

  • Samantha

    Have you tried Davis Cookware and Supply Store in Hillsboro Village? Ted taught me everything I know about tea 🙂

  • Sloane

    Does Matcha Tea contain caffeine??

  • jacquie

    thanks for a great article on tea. i too love sitting with a warming cup of tea in hand and find it very soothing. As a long time tea enjoyer and someone with a significant case of osteoporosis, i was curious that you mentioned that tea increased bone density. Why is that so? if anything i would of thought that depending on the variety that it might not due to the caffeine content. thanks.

  • Pris

    You’re welcomer!!

    Why not add Pu’erh tea, which has incredible benefits! Feel free to “leave my comment” out 🙂

  • Jessica

    Great info! I would love to see a post on the best techniques for brewing tea.

  • Luis Gonzalez

    Thanks for another great article! I love the simplicity of it, yet very informative. As dietitians we should encourage tea as our secrete weapon, and I will be using this for my own reference as I explore tea more thoroughly.

  • Jessica Almanza

    As a dietetic intern, I’m always on the go and in need of extra energy! I would rely on coffee but recently started drinking Yerba maté and love it! It gives me more energy than other teas and have felt a reduction in bloating. Would love to hear your take on Yerba maté!

    • McKel Hill

      Love that Jessica! I enjoy yerba mate and it has a bit more caffeine than green tea. Thanks for sharing!

  • Katie

    I loved this article, McKel! I love tea and coffee… And I was just explaining to someone the other day how tea is unlike any other drink… It’s a drink AND a ritual and a time for mindfulness like you said 🙂 I love these mini lessons. Keep em coming!

  • Jorgie

    Awesome article about different types of tea McKel! I enjoyed the link under “safely” I never would have known that you could “over do it” with green tea! I do have a question, once I was making loose leaf tea and experienced the fastest onset episode of nausea and vomiting that I’ve ever experienced – which immediately resolved after I got sick, I have since been able to drink the same tea with no effect. Can making tea “too concentrated” cause nausea? If so, what is your recommendation for amount to put into loose leaf “mesh” containers?

    • You know, this is a funny thing Jorgie, I’ve witnessed this first hand and also have had folks chime in with this same comment about green tea causing nausea. Some have shown that it’s the combination of caffeine and polyphenols that may cause stomach upset- if that’s the case, drink it along some food and you should be okay 🙂

      • Jorgie

        Thank you for the tip!

        • McKel Hill

          You’re very welcome!


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