A Mighty Little Leaf

They are many types of tea produced and enjoyed globally, and even though they all look and taste different, they come from the same evergreen plant, Camellia sinensis. This little plant has the ability to adapt naturally to its ambient conditions, making it suited to the region in which it is grown. 

Just like wine, each tea has its own individual profile and character, even teas of the same variety are different based on the terroir in which the plant is grown. So don't assume every assam, green, oolong or white tea will have the same flavor profile because the specific conditions where the tea plant is grown plays a big part in its quality and character.  

There are 4 major tea types, black, green, white and oolong and they all come from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. The manufacturing process is what determines the end result. The manufacturing process also determines the type of tea produced. Fully oxidized leaves produce black tea, unoxidized leaves produce green tea, semi-oxidized leaves produce oolong.

White tea, which is the least oxidized is mostly produced in China's Fujian province. It is the least processed of all teas. It takes the longest time to produce as well (2-3 days). This provides a slight natural oxidation because of the long withering process. After 2 days the leaves are baked at a low heat, sorted and baked again. 

 

 

 

 

You've probably heard that Iced Tea was invented at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair by an Englishman named Richard Blechynden. He was selling hot tea at the Fair but because it was so hot nobody wanted any. He poured the hot tea over ice and instant success! But he was not the first to invent Iced Tea, there is actually a recipe in Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree, published in 1877 for Iced Tea.

Reading tea leaves is called tasseography. Tasseography (also known as tasseomancy or tassology) is a divination or fortune-telling method that interprets patterns in tea leaves. 

Tea absorbs moisture, so it is important to store loose leaf tea or tea bags in a sealed container. 

Tea bags were invented in 1908 in the United States by Thomas Sullivan. He put loose leaf tea in small silk bags to offer as samples to his customers. They put it directly into their tea pot and by accident, the tea bag was invented. 

Rooibos is an herbal tea made from the South African Red Bush.

For many centuries tea was only used for medicinal purposes. It took almost 3,000 years for it become an everyday drink.

Chai tea is a sweet, spicy black tea with vanilla, spices, ginger, cloves and cardamom from India made with milk.

The term the "agony of the leaves" refers to the leaves unfurling as hot water is poured over them.

Black teas are made by fermenting the leaves and heating them to remove the moisture. The heat turns the leaves black.

Herbal teas are not teas, they do not contain leaves from the Camellia Sinensis. They are infusions made from the roots, leaves, flowers, seeds, and fruits or various plants.

Using a tea strainer or an infuser basket allows the tea leaves to expand, giving you a better quality tea.

Green tea leaves are not fermented. They are steamed and heated to remove moisture.

Tea can be stored for up to two years, as long as you store it away from light and moisture. Tea bags can lose their flavor and quality if kept longer than six months. Always use fresh water when you make tea. Water that has been boiled previously loses oxygen and can make your tea taste flat.

Green tea was the most popular tea in the late 1800's in the United States. But, during World War II, it wasn't easily available so Americans started importing tea from India, which is a major producer of black tea. As a result, after the War, black tea became the most popular tea. 

Orange Pekoe has nothing to do with Oranges. It is a term used to grade black tea. 

Moroccan Mint tea is the most popular flavored green tea in the world. 

Genmaicha is a Japanese tea made of green tea and roasted brown rice. The rice was added to the tea to stretch it out during rough times. 

Black tea can reduce eye puffiness. Most green and oolong teas can be steeped multiple times.  

Matcha is a powdered green tea used in Japanese tea ceremonies. 

Milk and lemon shouldn't be used in the same cup of tea because the lemon can curdle the milk. 

Pu-erh should be slurped. Slurping it aerates the tea, increasing the flavors and produces greater contact with your taste buds. 

Tea has been around for over 5,000 years, from its use for medicinal purposes to a beverage. From hot tea to iced tea, green tea to black tea. It all begins with the same little plant. 


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