Tea originally from South West China and originally pronounced TU meaning a bitter herb. The Camellia Sinensis plant was first used as a medicinal drink and only later under the Tang dynasty did it become the popular beverage we know today. Tea drinking spread quickly and was brought to Europe by the Dutch where it was eagerly taken up by Europeans. New plantations were established to dissolve the Chinese monopoly and tea was grown and imported from India during the 17th century. Several divisions of tea are now recognised. Based upon how the tea leaves are processed. Derived from the Camillia Sinensis plant teas are effected by the manufacturing processes. It is the amount of oxidation which the tea undergoes that creates the final product. Black teas are fully oxidized and white teas having little to none oxidization and in between teas which are partially oxidized such as red, yellow teas. Oxidization has a significant effect upon flavour of teas. With producers matching oxidization levels to achieve the type of tea they desire to create. Another aspect of how the Tea will taste is due to when the tea is harvested with tea leaves being picked as fresh young leaves or mature for a range of flavours and tastes.
Black teas are the most commonly known followed by Green teas, yellow, Oolang or red teas, flowering and herbal teas followed by white teas. Most tea is made primarily out of leaves and leaf buds, although some teas are made out of only mature leaves and others are made only out of buds. A few teas, are even made from twigs and stems, while some teas are combined mixture of stems with leaves as well. Tea is also a flowering plant, and sometimes tea is made from the bulb which unfurls itself inside a teapot.
Black teas are still the most popular teas sold in the West. Known as black tea due to the leaves being fully oxidized, which gives black tea its colour and strong flavour over other less oxidized teas. The leaves are first withered by fanning air over the leaves which are then heavily pressed fermented and dried, this is one reason why black tea is popular because due to this processing it was preserved and keeps its flavour over a few years which allowed it to be transported easily. A low caffeine content
White teas are made from the youngest and freshest of leaves or buds. These white teas are some of the purest teas available. As the leaves undergo a limited manufacturing process. Only the freshest of leaves are selected then they are withered and dried to produce white teas. This processing excludes other manufacturing steps that teas normally require, resulting in the leaves retaining their most natural elements of the plant which are rich in antioxidants.
Green teas are the most popular variety of tea consumed in the east and a wide range of green teas are produced all of which offer variety in taste, appearance and aroma. Popular green teas are Sencha, Gunpowder, Bancha and Genmaicha. Green teas go through very little processing. They are not wilted or crushed and are not subjected to any oxidization or fermentation and so are preserved with all its original qualities hence the name green tea. Because of the way green teas are processed they are rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, folic acid, manganese, potassium, magnesium and caffeine. Green teas have been used in Chinese medicine over centuries, used as a cure for a wide range of aliments from depression, headaches, tooth decay to weight loss and lower blood pressure. The most popular green teas are Sencha and Gunpowder.
A traditional Chinese tea and one which is popular throughout South China provinces. Known in China, as dark green teas. Oolong teas are considered a blend between green and black. Oolong tea is harvested late into the growing season, allowing the leaves to fully develop a rich content of aromatic oils. Crafted through withering the leaves in strong sunlight and left to oxidize the leaves are curled and twisted when the oxidization is sufficient . This special processing of the leaves which gives Oolong tea s a wide range of distinct flavours with a rich depth to discover. In Chinese medicine Oolong is good for the heart and skin while also being recognised as good for cholesterol and weight loss.
Pu erh is from the Yunnan province and is one of the oldest varieties of tea produced from this region. In China it is a highly distinguished and popular choice of tea due to its reputation in China for providing numerous health benefits including weight loss, lowering cholesterol, aiding digestion and for protection against heart troubles. The slow oxidization and the special fermentation the tea undergoes reduces the teas bitter qualities leaving a fresh and sweet tasting tea.
Yellow tea production goes back to the 17th century and was first produced in Sichuan province. Yellow tea represents some of the most expensive teas on the market. Often referred to as Imperial tea due to its rarity it was consumed only by Chinese imperial court or occasionally used for religious ceremonies. Yellow teas are thought to be derived from green teas however some of these processes are still today a secret. Commonly using green teas which have been in effect allowed a further slight withering and oxidization effect on the leaves are the very basic common methods resulting in yellow teas. The yellowing of tea produces a fuller rounded and sweeter tea. Famed throughout China for cleansing the body and digestive system and said to restore vitality.
Herbal teas can consist of a large variety of fresh or dried plants, herbs, fruit and spices combined in multiple variations to create various sumptuous hot or iced teas infusions. The original tea plant Camilia sinensis may not even be used in creating herbal tea infusions. Herbals teas offer a variety of choice to selected from and are a great and refreshing caffeine free alternative. Herbals teas in China,Sri lanka and ancient Egypt have traditionally been used for medicinal purposes often being blended to cure different ailments from colds and flu to digestion.
Rooibos a tea produced in South Africa where it has been drunk over generations and is commonly known as redbush tea. It should be considered a herbal tea rather then a classic tea. While it is caffeine free it does contain numerous minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium copper and zinc, combined together it is said to have a calming effect and help reduce blood pressure. Typically it has a mild and sweet taste.
Mate or yebal mate originates from South America and is particularly popular in Argentina. Green and roasted leaves and stemlets are dried and ready make a fantastic brew which is caffeine rich and full of vitamins, minerals antioxidants so is not only invigorating but healthy. Drunk through a straw, which has small holes at the end, allowing only liquid to be drunk, essential for avoiding the dried leaves. It has an earthy natural herbal flavour but is often combined with sweeter flavours to reduce the bitterness.
Few people know that the current practice of drinking powdered and whipped tea in the Japanese tea ceremony or "Chanoyu" is actually an anachronism held over from the Song dynasty in China over 1,000 years ago. After brick tea faded from popularity in the Tang dynasty, the new way of preparing tea in the Song dynasty was to whip powdered tea to a froth with a bamboo whisk. While this practice died out in China with the Mongol invasion, it was carried on in Japan's Buddhist monasteries and is now considered a pillar of traditional Japanese culture. Today, quality Matcha is being made in China again. This tea has a slightly different character than its Japanese counterpart. Both teas have an opaque, deep green colour and a thick, savory mouth feel. Both are high in caffeine.
Lapacho is a beverage prepared from the bark of the Lapacho tree (Tecome lapacho), growing in South America, in the Andes. Other names under it are: Tacheebo, Pau d`Arco, Inca Tea, Ipe Roxo. Lapacho has properties that strengthen the human defense system. Used in the fight against cancer, in the treatment of allergies and digestive problems. Contains numerous antimicrobial and antiviral substances and significant amounts of valuable minerals. The brew has a brown color and chocolate-aniseed, astringent, slightly earthy flavor. Lapacho is also called "Inca drink".