The world of tea is impossibly complex. There is dizzying variety within the species Camellia sinensis, whose leaves and leaf buds are used to make the drink. And like coffee and wine, there are innumerable ways to produce, manufacture, and classify tea that vary depending upon country and culture.
The result is a vast catalogue of teas that are exceedingly fun to explore, but remarkably difficult to fully understand. But on the surface, one thing is easily understood: color.
The varying shades of tea are the sum of various influences: oxidation levels, drying method, species variety, and more. In the above slideshow, we dip our toes in the beautiful world of colorful tea (which includes a few vibrant drinks that are only teas in name) to learn more about where they're from, what they're made of, and how they got their color.
After all, tea is worth getting to know: Several studies suggest that drinking it regularly may reduce one's risk of cancer, heart disease, and hypertension. Of course, health talk aside—curling up with a mug of creamy, cardamom-spiked masala chai is its own reward.