Tea, It is the world’s most popular beverage next to water, being drunk by over two billion people everyday. It is prepared by pouring hot water over the leaves of the tea plant, known scientifically as Camellia sinensis.
Nowadays, most people prefer using tea bags instead of traditional methods there is even iced tea, sweetened variety, lemon-flavored and served cold, mostly in plastic bottles.
It is said to have originated in China 1600 BC and was introduced to European traders in the 16th century and become popular to the British in the 17th century.
It is part of some of the world’s cultures. It is consumed in social events like tea parties and afternoon tea. There are also tea ceremonies in countries like Japan and China, which rather elaborate and overly formal.
In countries like India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, tea is a popular beverage and is usually mixed with spices like ginger, cinnamon and nuts like pistachios and almonds.
The beverage is probably the healthiest, considering its numerous medicinal properties and effects. It contains catechins, an antioxidant which has anticarcinogenic (meaning anti-cancer) capabilities.
Like most tea leaves, it is taken from the Camellia sinensis plant, rolled, oxidized and then dried and crushed (look at teabags). It is the kind of team being drunk by 90% of people in the Western hemisphere. A study in Boston concluded that black tea consumption reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.
Unlike black tea, green tea leaves undergo little or no oxidation. It has recently gained popularity in the west, mainly due to its newly-found health benefits. There was concluded evidence wherein green tea was found to reduce the risk of cancer and lower cholesterol levels.
This type of tea uses very young tea leaves, giving it a milder flavor compared to other tea. There are flavored teas as well. Earl Gray tea, Irish breakfast tea and Russian Caravan tea are popular examples. However, did you know that flowers are being used to flavor tea as well?
Oolong: It is almost the same in every way as black tea, however, the time spent in fermenting it is shorter.
Jasmine: It is mixed with black tea which results to the popular Jasmine tea. It is highly fragrant and a little sweet.
Osmanthus: Usually, the flowers are being spread out with the tea leaves during the oxidizing process. It gives the tea a slight peachy flavor and is a popular variety of tea in China, next to jasmine.
Chrysanthemum: This utilizes the use of dried chrysanthemum flowers.
Other materials used to blend with tea besides flowers are Pandan, Mint, Smoke (popular in Russian Caravan teas), Rum and Citrus Peel.
Now you know what tea is. If you don’t like its bitter taste in its pure form, you can add sugar and milk. Better start drinking now, you don’t know what you’re missing.