Quick Tea Facts
- Category: Facts
- Published: Thursday, 10 August 2006 00:00
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Black tea is the most popular type of tea. Worldwide, black tea accounts for nearly 93 percent of all tea consumed. Green tea is second at four percent and oolong tea is in third place with just two percent of the world tea market.
Americans drink about 125 million cups of tea every day or about 2.25 billion gallons of tea every year. Eighty percent of that is iced, making America the world leader in iced tea consumption.
Tea is a healthy beverage, but it can also be used externally. To relieve tired, achy feet and control foot odor, soak feet in tub of diluted, lukewarm tea, to which juice of one lemon and pinch of salt has been added.
Tea breaks have been a popular tradition since the 18th century. By that time tea had become the beverage of choice throughout Europe and had replaced ale and gin as the drink of the British masses.
Tea has many health benefits. It can help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer, and is also a natural source of fluoride that can help protect against tooth decay and gum disease. All types of tea are beneficial - not just green tea.
Tea has about half the amount of caffeine as coffee. For those who are sensitive to caffeine, tea can be naturally decaffeinated by rinsing the leaves for about 20 seconds. Discard this initial brew and then make the tea as usual.
When tea was first introduced to Europe many botanists believed that green tea and black tea were different plants. Access to the interior of China was restricted, so it wasn't until the early 19th century that Western knowledge about tea was acquired.
Lapsang Souchong originates from China's Fujian province. It is smoke-flavored black tea which has been withered over pine fires. The pine smoke adds a distinctive smoky aroma and flavor that remains when the leaves are brewed.
True tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. All the various types of tea - black tea, green tea, and wu-long tea, are made from this one plant. The major difference between these types of tea is how the tea leaves are processed after picking.
Herbal teas are sometimes called tisanes. They do not contain tea leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant, but instead are made from herbs and spices. Most herbal tea does not contain caffeine and many have medicinal properties.
It is best to store tea in a cool, dry, dark place like an opaque tin or jar. Do not store it in the refrigerator or freezer as the repeated heating and cooling it undergoes each time it is removed causes condensation to build up - causing the tea to lose flavor.
An average cup of tea has about 40 mg. of caffeine. The amount of caffeine depends on how long the tea is brewed and (to a lesser extent) the type of tea. All true tea from the Camellia sinensis plant has caffeine. Most herbal tea is caffeine-free.
Certain teas like wu-long tea can be brewed multiple times. The tea leaves are allowed to steep for less than a minute before all the liquid is poured off into a serving container. This method of making tea can reduce the amount of caffeine in each serving.
The plant which produces all types of true is called Camellia sinensis. It can grow over 30 feet in height, but most tea plantations keep the plant trimmed to about waist-height so the leaves can be plucked easily at harvest time.
There are many factors which affect the taste and quality of tea. Variables include the growing conditions (elevation, climate, soil type and age of the tea plant), the harvesting methods, the processing methods, and the level of skill of the tea workers.
Tea is grown in a total of 36 countries around the world. The most famous tea producing regions are India, Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia, Kenya, Japan, and Taiwan, and lesser-known areas include Bangladesh, Uganda, Malawi, Turkey, Iran, Argentina, and Brazil.
India is the world's largest tea producer but is also the largest tea consumer. Therefore, only 15% - 20% of Indian tea is exported. In 2005, India produced 51% of the world's tea, while Kenya and Sri Lanka each produced about 18%.
There are many ways to classify tea - by region, by grade, or by processing method. Most people are familiar with tea categories such as black tea or green tea. These are processing terms, and others include wu-long, white, yellow, and pu-erh.
Tea should be made with natural spring water with a high mineral content. If chlorinated tap water is used it should be left standing for an hour or two to let the chlorine escape. Otherwise it can adversely affect the taste of the tea.
Black tea, green tea, and oolong tea all come from the same plant - Camellia sinensis. The major difference between these three types of tea is their level of oxidation. Black tea is fully oxidized, green tea is un-oxidized and oolong tea is semi-oxidized.
Herbal tea is made from the roots, stems, flowers and seeds of various plants. Herbal tea does not contain leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant, so it is not "true tea." Most herbal tea is caffeine-free and has medicinal properties.