Tag Archive for Tea

GUEST POST: Tea Drinkers Rule!

TEA DRINKERS RULE!

Pop culture is not kind to those who favor tea over coffee.  Coffee drinkers chase terrorists, fight aliens and outrun earthquakes, while tea drinkers sit around nibbling cookies as they sip from fine china teacups with their pinkie extended.  However, since tea is the second most popular beverage in the world after water, it’s safe to say this image hardly represents the average tea drinker.  In fact, there’s plenty of proof they’re just as deserving of their own action movie as the java jockeys.

Tea can be traced back to the 3rd century, though legend places its origin as far back as 3000 B.C.  The origin of coffee dates back to the 14th century, while legend says it was discovered in the 9th century.  Either way tea predates coffee by hundreds of years, so it holds the distinction of being the first to give people a caffeine fix.

Tea was first brewed in China, while coffee debuted in the Middle East.  Muslims made huge contributions to science, medicine and philosophy, but these volumes of knowledge could only be preserved thanks to paper, one of the many revolutionary inventions to come out of China.  Add gunpowder, noodles, and toilet paper to China’s list and there’s no doubt who comes out ahead in the game-changing discoveries department.

Now let’s take a look at the most powerful civilizations in history.  First, the Mongols.  They tore through Asia and the Middle East like tissue paper, creating the world’s largest continuous empire.  As they marched across the continent conquering folks left and right, they drank a fermented tea called kombucha for vitality and strength.  If this tea was a person it would be less Indian yogi and more soccer hooligan, proving that tea can be just as tough as coffee can be pretentious (Exhibit A: Starbucks).

 

Next we have the British Empire.  Brits are the ones most associated with the sissy tea drinker stereotype, but sissies could not have ruled over the largest empire in the history.  Sissies could not have maintained said empire for almost 200 years by repelling invaders and crushing rebellions.  Sissies couldn’t rock powdered wigs and lead-based makeup.  At the height of their power the British pretty much ran the world, their influence shaping the political, social and economic climate of dozens of countries that is still evident to this day, and they still managed to make time for afternoon tea.

Okay, so maybe tea drinkers were a force to be reckoned with in the past, but what about today?  If you look at the top five tea drinking countries you’ll find the U.K. and Ireland, neither of which can be considered dainty doilies.  And number one on that list?  Turkey.  Yes, the same Turkey that invented coffee and coffee houses drinks more tea per capita than any other country.  Be sure to savor the irony the next time you’re savoring a cup of nice, hot, manly cup of tea.

 

Dana Schellings is a freelance writer, avid swimmer, and pub trivia enthusiast.  Check out her monthly column at absrdcomedy.com and follow her on Twitter @DanaSan88.  If you want to hire her or just tell her how awesome she is, email her at danaschellings@gmail.com

Tea 201 - White Tea - Downy Buds

White Tea Leaves

White Tea Leaves

White tea is the youngest harvested buds of the Camellia sinensis plant almost exclusively in the Fujian province of China.  It gets its name from the down white hairs that are found on the leaves.  The liquor itself is the most pale of teas and it is known for its mild taste and fresh scent.

White tea is very delicate.  Because of this fact, you should use filtered water that is brought to a high temperature, but not boiling.  A good rule of thumb (if you don’t have a thermometer to test for 140 to 165ºF) is to bring it to a boil and then let it cool for at least a minute.

White tea was discovered between 960 and 1279 AD during the Song dynasty.  The Chinese discovered that the youngest buds of the tea leaves produced a mild and refreshing taste.  In the beginning, it was tea reserved for the Emperor.  In fact according to legend, the Emperor Hui Zong became so obsessed with this tea that he lost his Empire while in obsessive pursuit of the perfect cup.

White tea went relatively unknown outside of China for years.  The popularity of white tea in the west is only a recent occurrence.  The tea’s popularity grew when health conscious people were finding the health benefits of white teas.  White tea is rare because of the strict rules on harvesting and processing.

There are quite a few varieties of white tea based on several factors.  The Silver Needle is the most sought after.  This tea can only be harvested during a brief window in the early spring right before the tea buds turn into leaves.  Long Life Eyebrow is considered in the lesser member of the white tea variety.  It is harvested after the time period of Silver Needle and White Peony.  Tribute Eyebrow is similar to Long Life but is considered to have a darker appearance.  White Peony is the second highest of quality and is harvested when there is only a bud and two leaves.  Lastly, there is Snowbud which is only harvested when there are only buds and leaves in the early spring.

In the end, you’re going to have to experience them for yourselves in terms of flavor.  If you are interested in potential health benefits here’s a link:

http://www.whitetea.com/benefits-of-white-tea.php

Tea 201 - Origin - Where Tea is Grown

Tea Origin by Percentage (c.o. Wikipedia.org)

Tea Origin by Percentage (c.o. Wikipedia.org)

It would not be a proper lesson on tea without sitting down and discussing the origin of tea.  Where is it grown?  More importantly where can it grow?

Let’s start with tea’s origin.  Where did it originally come from?

Originally its natural form was believed to have originated in China.  The most celebrated of teas come from the area of China known as “The Golden Triangle.” This area is found between the mountains of Huang Shan, Mogan Shan, Qi Shan and Tianmu Shan.

In the country of Taiwan, it is well known for its oolong teas.

India has grown in popularity due its Assam teas (which are grown in the Brahmaputra valley) and Darjeeling teas (which is grown in the ex-British hills of the Himalayas).  Darjeeling teas are known as the “Champagne of teas.”

This also spreads into Nepal.  In their side of the Himalayas, they have their own tea that resembles Darjeeling.

Sri Lanka is the source of the famous and fragrant Ceylon tea.  The principle growing regions of this country are Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula and Uva.

Of course, we can never forget Japan renowned for its green sencha, courser bancha and matcha.

But that’s just the Asian countries.

Tea growing has also made its way to East Africa to the countries of Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania.   These countries have made a dent in the mark by way of making large quantities of black teas.  However, they have not been able to deliver the same quality of Chinese Yunnan or Indian Darjeeling.

But it does not stop there.  Tea growing has also spread to the Americas to the following countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and the good old USA.

Tea has spread all over the world and it will continue to do so as it continues to also grow in popularity.

Pretty cool, no?