The University of Edinburgh SocieTea

Tea Classification

Infusions derived from tea leaves are one of the most popular beverages in the world. In SocieTEA, we offer all major tea varieties and what differentiates them is the degree of oxidation.

Black Tea

Black tea, known as fully oxidised tea, will experience withering, rolling, deep oxidation (the key process, which changes the green leaves to dark colours and changes the flavour into earthy softness) and drying.

It is the most produced tea type in the world. So, flavours vary a lot, from the fruity-and-floral Darjeeling to the chocolaty-malty-and-nuanced Yunnan black tea.

Available in SocieTEA: Aussie Wattle Breakfast, Lapsang Souchong, Oriental Moon.

Green Tea

The most “classic” choice can be green tea, which is made from tea leaves that have been withered, pan frying and dried. Steamed green tea will experience steaming (Japanese tea-making tradition) rather than pan frying.

Green teas can have a vast range of flavours: light and sweet, vegetal, stony, or grassy.

Available in SocieTEA: Bancha Hougicha, Bilouchun, Genmaicha, Japanese Cherry, Peach Sencha, Pre-Rain Lung Ching Dragon Well, Sencha.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea, referring to the semi-oxidized (25 – 80% oxidation, that is somewhere between a green and a black tea) tea, goes through withering, rolling/bruising (bruise the edges of the leaves to initiate oxidation), oxidation, pan firing and drying. Baking (additional) gives Oolong tea more smoothness and complexity.

The most famous Oolong teas are Da Hong Pao (Wuyi rock tea), Tieguanyin (Iron Buddha) and Dongding (Taiwan Ice Peak). Generally speaking, Oolong has its distinctive sweet and fragrant aftertaste.

Available in SocieTEA: Honey Black, Milk Oolong.

Herbal Tea

Strictly speaking Herbal Teas are not teas, as they are not made from the tea plant. Also referred to as tisanes, herbal infusions can be made from a wide range of aromatic herbs and plants. In fact, tisanes can be made from pretty much any part of a plant: leaves, fruit, roots, bark …

A lot of remedial powers are attributed to tisanes, especially in traditional Chinese medicine. The vast majority if tisanes are caffeine-free.

Flavour depends strongly on the kind of tisane, but tisanes available in SocieTEA include: Dried Zohorai, Fine Cut Rosehip, Lavender Flowers, Leo’s Cupboard Infusion, Lime Leaves, Rooibos, Whole Green Cardamon.

Other examples include Chamomile, Yerba Mate.


Pu’er and dark tea are post-fermented teas, with Pu’er coming from the Yunnan province of China. Usually, tea plants used in Pu’ers are fairly old and large-leafed. These teas are usually processed in the same way as green teas. Afterwards, the leaves are pressed into cakes or bricks, small or big, and stored for a long time. Over the years, the microorganisms that exist in the tea allow the tea to ferment. The tea becomes darker and the flavour changes significantly. Depending on the climate the tea is stored in, the tea can reach its subjective “prime time” after 20 to 80 years. Due to this being a very long time to wait for tea, a new method was devised. The process is sped up: before being compressed, the leaves are stored in large warehouses in very high heat and humidity, speeding up the acceleration process significantly. This takes months rather than years. The first kind of tea (naturally aged) is referred to as raw or sheng Pu’er whereas the second kind (accelerated fermentation) is called ripe, cooked or shou Pu’er.

The flavour and aroma of Pu’er is very earthy. The flavours of raw and cooked pu’er can differ a lot. Sometimes, a sea-like flavour, or even sea-weed can come out, especially in old or cooked Pu’ers. It is advisable to rinse these types thoroughly before actually drinking the infusions.

Available in SocieTEA: Jing Mai Ancient Trees, Puer Ripen and Raw, Yunnan Puer.

White Tea

White tea preserves the most natural and subtle flavours, because tea leaves only go through withering (lightly oxidised during natural withering) and drying (reduces leaf moisture to around 3%). There is no deliberate oxidation process, just like green tea.

The flavour of true white tea is soft and light, and slightly reminiscent of a light black tea.

Available in SocieTEA: Moonlight White.


Darjeeling tea comes exclusively from the Darjeeling district in the East India. While Darjeeling tea is usually black, but oolongs, greens and even white teas are getting more common. Darjeeling is picked in particular sessions during the summer, called “Flushes”, with earlier flushes generally being more sought after.

As for flavour, one could describe most Darjeelings as floral and fruity, with later flushes becoming more robust.

Available in SocieTEA: First Flush, Red Thunder, Wonder.

Coming up

  1. Tea Tasting Extravaganza

    Come along to sample our selection of fine global teas, sourced by local tea shops and our lovely members! A tea-related prize awaits anyone able to identify the most teas.

    Link to the event:

    Chaplaincy Auditorium


  2. First Weekly MeeTeaing of the new academic year!

    SocieTea returns from the summer break! In Semester 1, the weekly meeTeaings will take place each Thursday 5.30pm-7pm in the Chaplaincy Room 1. The meetings will be free for everyone in September, and afterwards £1 for non-members.

    Chaplaincy Room 1


  3. Weekly MeeTeaing

    Relax with some fancy tea and friendly chitchat.

    Chaplaincy Room 1



We're grateful for support from

Edinburgh University Students' Associatoin (EUSA) Anteaques Rosevear Tea

Pekoe Tea teagora