Tea: More Than Just A Leaf

I recently visited Vital Tea Leaf  in the neighborhood of Chinatown in San Fransisco, California. There I started to discover that there was more to tea than just the simple package of leaves. I mean let’s be honest. How many of you have ever taken a break to contemplate the creation of tea?

So with my curiosity awakened, I went to the one place a broke college student can go to learn without a major price tag. The local library. I found a book that does a wonderful job capturing the complexity of the tea making processes, the benefits of tea, and how tea affects the world in various ways.  The books was The Tea Book by Linda Gaylard. I was fascinated by what I learned so I am sharing it with you. Here are the top 10 cool factoids about tea that I learned.

1. All teas are made from the same plant called Camellia sinensis.

Camellia sinesis takes 5 to 7 years to grow from seed to a fully mature leaf before it is ready to harvest for the first time. What a long time! Camellia sinesis has two varieties. One that is small leaved and prefers cool climates while the other is larger-leaved plant that thrive in tropical region. Both adapt very well into its’ natural environment which has allowed for there to be more 500 hybrids of the tea plant. The different anatomies of a tea plant lead to the production of various teas which leads the plant having the ability have up to 5 harvest a year.

2. Tea has many health benefits and can be a powerful health tonic.

Tea is packed with antioxidants and chemicals that help fortify the immune system. Green and white tea are the most beneficial because of how they are made so you can receive the most benefits from them. Some of these health benefits are support digestion, prevent cancer, increase bone density, and lower stress. Do you need help with any of these health concerns? Then you may want to try a little tea drinking.

3. Loose-Leaf is way better than tea bag.

The story of how the tea bag came to be with a pure accident by a merchant giving the tea leaves to his customers in pouches and the customers plopped the entire parcels in their cups. Now we use tea bags for convinces, less mess, easy infusion, and it is often a cheaper option. However, loose-leaf teas are better because they are fresher for longer and have higher flavor. You are able to use leaves multiple times, which leaves this option being price per cup. They also are biodegradable making them environmentally friendly.

4. There is a proper way to brew your tea.

For every specific type of tea out there, there is a specific way to brew that type. The variation come in water temperature for the brewing, stepping times, and different number of times you can be stew the leaves. For example, green tea likes to be brewed with water temperature of 170 degrees to 150 degrees depending what region the leaves come from. You start off each steep by 30 seconds and increase by another 30 seconds for each infusion.

5. There is a difference between different tea apparatuses.

If you have looked inside a tea shop or online for a kettle and other tea making equipment. All the different varieties offer options on how you can brew your tea, but going in blind can be over whelming so the breakdown of the most popular infusers is helpful for buyers that have no idea or the tea aficionados.

6. Tea has been apart of history and has traveled the world.

Tea has a long history. Tea was discovered in 2737 BC in China. It quickly spread across China before through migration and/or trade. For example, China used tea to barter for horses. It was also used by monks to help improve meditation. the Tea Craze hit Europe in 1610 when Portugal started importing tea from China. As you can imagine, everyone loved this drink.  The popularity continued to spread for years and years. Now, tea can be found in supermarkets and local groceries.

7. There are a wide variety of tea drinking ceremonies and cultures around the world.

With the spread of tea around the world, cultures started building ceremonies and different drinking cultures around it. In United Kingdom, you have the afternoon tea ceremony. In China, you have the Gongfu Cha and so on. Each ceremony involves different instruments along with tasty offering to nibble on while drinking. Some ceremonies are more formal while others are more informal. The variations seem endless.

8. A Tisane is not the same as tea from a tea leaf

Tisane is an herbal brew not made from Camellia sinensis. They use all parts of various plants to make an infusion. An example of this would be lavender flowers used to make lavender tea. They can offer health benefits like the normal tea leaves as well. Basically, they are very similar just one is made from the actual tea plant and the other is made from a variety.

9. You can easily make your own blended teas easily

Blending teas is popular because you can introduce new flavor combination to your regular tea. You can make it smell more floral or spicy. You can sweeten the mixture or make it more bitter. You can enhance certain health benefits too. Blended teas opens a world of the possibilities. I love this book because in this book toward the back there are recipes for blended teas that you can try making at home. It is a perfect guide on how to blend teas and how blending teas work.

10. You can explore tea in a new way through cocktails, pastry, or various other drink formats.

Among the recipes in the back and tucked in between the pages of information, the author offers tips on how to add new spin on your tea creations. You can matcha to your bakes for a little asian twist. You can use white peony tea leaves in your cocktail. You can make your own Kombucha. How about adding some tapioca pearls for some bubble tea? What new spin will you add to your own tea?

There is way more to tea than the curled leaves in my mug. Tea has spread across the world and has been a part of history for a long time. I was fascinated by all that I learned and will probably continue down this enquire with my next borrowed book. What was most surprising to you regarding tea?



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