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About tea - What is tea?

About tea - What is tea?

Do you often ask the question, what is tea? When we talk about "tea", we always a We mean the processed leaves of the "Camellia sinensis" plant.

In the English language, there is a separate word "herbal tea" - "herbal tea" or "herbal infusion" - "herbal infusion", or the possibly still used word "tisane", which are any herbal concoction are not derived from the leaves of Camellia sinensis. Let's separate these two groups in our thoughts, since they are made from different plants. 

In our everyday vocabulary, it is common to use the term "tea" also for herbal and fruit infusions (there are countries where it is also used for coffee and cocoa). This is how the term "tea" is defined in the Oxford dictionary.

Varieties of tea plant

From the large family of teas, only Camellia sinensis is used as a drink suitable for human consumption. Of course, we distinguish many varieties within this genus as well. Just as there are many varieties of grapes- for example, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot noir, Syrah and more - under the main groups of "white wine grapes" and "red wine grapes", the same is the case with Camellia sinensis, the tea plant. White tea is typically made from some varieties, because due to the nature of the variety, it is best suited for this type.

The wild version of the tea plant can grow up to 10-15 meters tall and is native to the southern borderlands of China, including Laos, Vietnam and Burma and the areas bordering India. This is what we call it large leaf "Da Ye Zhong 大叶种" version (Sinensis Castle. Assamese) which needs a tropical and sub-tropical climate, abundant rainfall and moisture for its development.

small leaf, smaller growing version (Sinensis Castle. Sinensis) is much more resistant to higher mountain, harsher climatic conditions, develops more slowly, and its taste is more complex. There are many transitions and crosses between the two main species. Some varieties can live for hundreds of years. To this day, such old trees are still picked/harvested in a limited way and very high quality and rare teas are produced from their leaves. (for example, in the Yunnan province of China, the post-ripened "stink” teas)

The tea bush cultivated versionst usually falls back due to easier harvesting. The leaves can be harvested traditionally by hand or by machine. The more valuable teas are usually picked by hand, so the very expensive raw material can be processed more carefully and precisely. Even in China - where the traditional picking method was the norm for a long time - machines are being used more and more often for simpler teas - as wages have been rising here for years as well. We distinguish between different picking methods, which part of the leaf is picked for the given type of tea. Of course, there are many picking standards that vary depending on the type of tea and time of day.

Picking methods, types of tea

Tea leaves harvested based on different picking methods are processed into various teas. Only the method of processing determines the type of tea obtained. White, yellow, green, wulong, red (black) and post-ripened teas can be made from the leaves of the same tea plant. More information from You can find it under types of tea processing. 

From the Camellia sinensis plant, the above, six types of tea can be prepared. The endless variety of teas available from tea plant variants, geographical and climatic differences (""terroir"") comes from, of course it is human hand from his careful work. The maker and owner of the tea has an extremely important role, he is the one who controls the process and brings it together.

After harvesting and processing, the finished tea always determines different methods of preparation and serving - depending on which country and type of tea we are going to consume.

Types of tea

White tea, green tea, Wulong tea, red tea (black tea, post-ripened teas

Curiosities and customs in the world

Different local customs and traditions can therefore be taken as a basis, and different ways of preparation are possible. This is how famous, for example, makes sense "English tea","Russian tea" concept, even if tea plants don't grow in England or Russia (except for one or two tea gardens elsewhere in Great Britain, and Georgia near the Russians - but that's another country.).

These terms are a the tastes and habits of British or Russian people they refer to following methods of preparation and serving, rather than the geographical origin of the tea.

Arabs typically drink Chinese green tea strongly brewed, with lots of sugar and mint. The Turks make their own tea, boiled to a strong boil, also sugared, and diluted with hot water. And in India, black tea brewed with milk with (or without) spices is called Masala Chai or Chai. As many countries, as many customs. Premium Indian teas (from Assam, Darjeeling, Nilgiri regions) or Ceylon teas are typically not made for the local market or for the local population. For Taiwan, Japan, Korea and China there are countries in which, strangely enough, coffee is gaining more and more space, and here we have a lack of it "zen" feeling of life also from mediating culture. The teas on our website typically come from these regions, their aroma and taste reflect the growing area, the harvest and the master tea maker his work is praised.

Our detailed article on the correct storage of tea

One more interesting thing

The tea farmer needs 4-5 kg ​​of freshly picked leaves to make 1 kg of processed tea. The leaves begin to wither immediately after being picked, the rate of which is controlled and influenced by the tea farmers. The final aroma of the finished tea also partly depends on this.
Then, the method of processing determines what type of tea will be the final product. One of the most important such parameters is the degree of oxidation.

For example, green tea oxidizes very little, typically around 5%, while at the other end of the scale, black tea (red tea in China) has an oxidation rate of 70-90%. When red teas (black tea) are processed, the leaves are rolled and rolled to speed up the oxidation process and to bring the flavors and aromas deep inside the leaves to the surface.

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