A little about tea

The Chinese began drinking tea thousands of years before the rest of the world. According to Chinese mythology,in 2737BC, the emperor Shen Nung, who would always boil water before he drank it for hygienic reasons, stopped during a long journey across his empire. As he was boiling his water, a leaf of Camellia sinensis fell into his mug. Upon drinking the new liquid, the emperor raved of its health benefits and refreshing taste.
Camellia sinensis, known as the tea plant, is responsible for producing black, green, white and oolong tea. The difference between these teas lies in the levels of oxidation. Black, being the most oxidized and white being the least. The young leaves of this evergreen shrub are handpicked at harvesting. To produce green tea, the leaves are steamed right away to prevent oxidation. Leaves left to oxidize slightly longer become oolong tea, while black tea is left to oxidize the longest.
Of course, there are literally thousands of variations of each of those types of tea and each tea growing region throughout Asia has become well known for producing certain styles of tea.
In Japan, Green Tea is the cup of choice and styles such as Sencha, Matcha and Gyokuro are very popular. Tea plays an integral part in the day to day culture and rituals of Japan.
Indian & Sri Lankan tea has become the most popular tea in the world today, especially in the west. India produces an estimated 850,000 tonnes of tea per year, this is exported around the world. In England, where tea drinking is a national pastime, there is 144,000 tonnes of the stuff swilled each year.
In China, where it all began, production is at around 200,000 tonnes per year and much of this is mostly savoured locally.  It is here you will find the most refined and delicate teas produced anywhere in the world, some of these leaves need to be tasted to be believed. Many small growers will produce as little as 30 kilograms in a year, focusing on quality rather than quantity. Some teas grown here are so fine they fetch a price, winemakers can only ever dream of. The Oolong tea, Tieguanyin, can cost as much $2,700 for a kilo, anyone who has tasted a half decent Tieguanyin would most likely argue that it’s worth every cent too.
However you like your tea, one thing is for sure, with an amazing history spanning more than 5000 years, it sure isn’t some passing fad.


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