What is tea and why do we love it?
I know a few people who don't like tea, but I think they just haven't cultivated that relationship with the tea. I know it sounds a bit silly, but making and drinking tea is actually a fun and relaxing ritual.
Once you associate having tea with coziness and positive feelings, you'll enjoy savoring this drink much more.
In this blog post, I'm discussing the different types of tea, a brief history of tea, and some interesting information about this beloved drink.
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There are many differences between teas
When we use the term tea, it's a very general word, but there actually thousands of tea types. No, tea doesn't just refer to green tea.
Tea processing and the growing process are the key factors that make the differences between thousands of teas.
Two types of tea are available: herbal teas and true teas.
The true teas are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, known commonly as the tea plant. These include green tea, white tea, black tea, and oolong tea.
Tea plants are evergreen plants that can grow in many climates. This allows for different flavors to be added to each unique brew.
Herbal teas or tisanes are entirely caffeine-free and are not made using any leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant leaves.
These herbal blends instead use spices, flowers, and leaves from a variety of other plants, including fruits and herbs.
Herbal infusions, which are herbal teas made with real tea leaves, can often produce distinct flavors. The herbal infusions can be classified as black, green, or white depending on the tea leaves used and the process that was used to make them. I'm sure you've tried mint herbal tea before.
Tea is a beverage made from herbs and can be divided into two types.
Who drinks tea?
Western countries are increasingly embracing herbal beverages. Tea is the second most consumed beverage, the first being plain water. I think coffee is definitely up there too, and I'm not one to turn down a cup of hot or iced coffee, but I also enjoy drinking tea.
According to recent studies, "approximately four in five consumers drink tea, with Millennials being the most likely (87% of millennials drink tea). On any given day, more than one-half of the American population drinks tea."
In Asian society, you're likely to see people drink lots of tea regularly. In fact, tea was invented in Asia, so it's a big part of the culture, especially in China and Japan.
What's your favorite type of tea? Are you a traditionalist who loves green tea?
I enjoy flavored herbal teas the most. One of my favorites is the caramel apple pie flavored tea; trust me, it's better than a cup of coffee!
Basically, tea is a popular choice all over the world. I'm sure you've heard of British tea time, associated with having afternoon tea consisting of black tea served with milk and sweets like cookies or cakes.
More than half the world's population consumes tea every day as an alternative to plain water. Tea is not only a great tasting beverage, but it's also healthy.
A brief history of tea
Tea was first discovered in China, where it was used in traditional medicine by the Shang dynasty. However, tea didn't become popular until the Tang dynasty, when it became available for recreational use by the general public, not just the nobility.
When they traveled to China or lived in Portugal, the Portuguese priests were the first Europeans who discovered tea and started drinking it and taking it overseas. As a result, tea was introduced to Europe in the 16th century. But, it took 100 years for tea to become a staple drink in Britain.
Tea was also a common part of religious and community events across the Americas, but it was a different type of tea, not green tea. South American tea drinkers believed that yerba mate was the drink of gods. It gave them insight into themselves and the world around them. When it comes to mixing beverages and philosophy, yerba mate is a deeply spiritual South American beverage.
If you haven't tried yerba mate, you need to give it a go. It's not like the black or green tea you're used to. It contains caffeine, but it is also good for detoxing your body.
How is tea made?
Tea production has evolved from manual to automated production over the centuries. It is possible to still find many tea varieties that were produced using traditional methods.
The Chinese found a way to properly brew tea by using hot water to provide certain medicinal substances in a short time. This prevents undesirable substances from being released and preserves the required substances with fine taste, aroma, and texture.
All true teas are made from the same tea leaf plat. However, the tea leaves undergo oxidation and fermentation to create their unique flavors. The tea leaves' color and flavor are affected by oxidation, which is a naturally occurring process.
After the leaves have been harvested from the tea plant, they are then rolled by hand or machine. Tiny cracks are created during the rolling process that allows oxygen to react and produce different types of tea.
The leaves of green and white teas can be dried immediately after harvesting. The leaves are not pressed but instead are dried in the sun or pan-fired.
Oolong tea, on the other side, is fully oxidized. Black tea or English breakfast tea is, however, partially oxidized. Tea growers are skilled at oxidizing leaves. In some cases, the process can be repeated several times or used with certain artisanal techniques to create precise aromas and tastes.
Teas that have been fully oxidized, such as black teas, tend to have stronger flavors and aromas. They will generally be darker brown or richer in burnt red color. White tea, which is less oxidized, will have a more delicate flavor and be light green or yellow.
Loose-leaf vs. teabags
There are many differences between traditional tea bags and loose leaf tea. But connoisseurs point out one thing: loose leaf tea tastes better.
In general, loose-leaf tea is of higher quality.
Regular tea bags often contain tea dust and fannings. These are small tea particles that have been leftover from tea production. This is a significant compromise in quality from full-leaf tea. As an alternative, you can find silken pyramid-shaped pouches that contain unbroken high-quality full-tea.
Tea leaves that have been finely broken down lose most of their aroma and essential oils. They release more tannins when steeped than whole leaf tea leaves, which results in bitter, astringent beverages. Important factors include the material, shape, size, and weight of the bags.
Teabags that are too tight on tea leaves prevent them from expanding and preserving their flavor and aroma potential. Even though you may not have the time or tools to make loose leaf tea every day, this doesn't mean that you should sacrifice quality in exchange for convenience because you can taste the difference.
I'm not here to judge. I admit I use tea bags because they're convenient. But, whatever you choose, make sure to try all types of teas out, especially during the colder months.
The bottom line is that teas are generally healthy.
Many studies have shown that various teas can boost your immune system and fight inflammation. They also help to prevent heart disease and cancer. There are many benefits to tea, and not all teas offer the same health benefits. However, it is clear that regular consumption of tea can have a long-lasting impact on your overall wellness.