Create New Account
Below are frequently asked questions, you may find the answer for yourself
Tea is a drink made by infusing leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis, or Thea sinensis) in hot water. The name 'tea' is also used to refer to the leaves themselves; and it is also the name of a mid- to late-afternoon meal in the British Isles and associated countries, at which tea (the drink) is served along with various foods.
The three main categories are green, black, and oolong. All three kinds are made from the same plant species. The major differences between them are a result of the different processing methods they undergo. Black teas undergo several hours of oxidation in their preparation for market; oolongs receive less oxidation, and green teas are not oxidized at all. There are, of course, many different varieties within these three main categories.
The Food Guide to healthy eating recommends caffeine consumption in moderation. According to the current findings for most people an intake of caffeine up to 400-450 mg per day does not increase the risk of heart disease, hypertension or have an adverse effect on pregnancy or the foetus. This level of caffeine is equivalent to approximately 10 to 12 cups (170 ml) of tea per day. As explained by Prof. T. W. Wickremanayake (Ph D Glasgow, Visiting Research Fellow Glasgow, Wisconsin and California ) the pharmacologically active dose of caffeine is 200 mg and the acute fatal dose is about 10,000 mg. Those who drink more than 5 cups of coffee or 9 cups of tea are regularly consuming 5% of the fatal dose. The T 1/2 of caffeine is about 3 hr. It is excreted quickly in urine as 1-methyl uric acid. Prof. Wickramanayake also states the following. “There is a positive association between Myocardial infarction and heavy coffee consumption, whereas the correlation between infarction and heavy tea drinking is negative. In rats and rabbits maintained on atherogenic diets, caffeine increases serum lipid concentrations and therefore the incidence of atherosclerosis. Coffee has the same action but not decaffeinated coffee. Tea has the opposite effect to caffeine alone or caffeine in coffee. Similar results have been reported in a study of human subjects with and without heart ailments. Russian scientists have demonstrated that a course of tea consumption improved the condition of atherosclerotic patients. The alleged adverse effects of caffeine are apparently eliminated in tea either by a modification of its activity by other constituents, or by the opposing action of some anti-atherosclerotic constituent."
The word for tea in most of mainland China (and also in Japan ) is 'cha'. (Hence its frequency in names of Japanese teas: Sencha, Hojicha, etc.) But the word for tea in Fujian province is 'te' (pronounced approximately 'tay'). As luck would have it, the first mass marketers of tea in the West were the Dutch, whose contacts were in Fujian . They adopted this name, and handed it on to most other European countries. The two exceptions are Russia and Portugal , who had independent trade links to China . The Portuguese call it 'cha', the Russians 'chai'. Other areas (such as Turkey , South Asia and the Arab countries) have some version of 'chai' or 'shai'. 'Tay' was the pronunciation when the word first entered English, and it still is in Scotland and Ireland . For unknown reasons, at some time in the early eighteenth century the English changed their pronunciation to 'tee'. Virtually every other European language, however, retains the original pronunciation of 'tay'.
The first step in tea production is the harvest. Most harvesting is still done by hand, which (as you can imagine) is very labor-intensive. Some growers have had success using a machine that acts much like a vacuum cleaner, sucking the leaves off the branch. The latter method is used for the cheaper varieties of tea, as it is not capable of discriminating between the high-quality tip leaves and the coarser leaves toward the bottom of the branch. The harvested leaves can be processed in two ways: CTC or orthodox. CTC, which stands for "crush, tear, curl," is used primarily for lower-quality leaves. CTC processing is done by machine; its name is actually fairly descriptive. The machines rapidly compress withered tea leaves, forcing out most of their sap; they then tear the leaves and curl them tightly into balls that look something like instant coffee crystals. The leaves are then "fired," or dehydrated. Most tea connoisseurs are not very interested in CTC tea, since this process does not allow for the careful treatment that high-quality leaves merit. But CTC has an important and legitimate role in the tea industry: since it is a mechanized process, it allows for the rapid processing of a high volume of leaves which otherwise would go to waste. It is also good for producing a strong, robust flavor from leaves of middling quality; in fact, for many varieties of leaf CTC is the preferred processing method. The orthodox method is a bit more complex, and is usually done mostly by hand. The process differs for black, green, and oolong teas. The basic steps in the production of black tea are withering, rolling, oxidation, and firing. First, the leaves are spread out in the open (preferably in the shade) until they wither and become limp. This is so that they can be rolled without breaking. Rolling is the next step. This is rarely done by hand any more; it is more often done by machine. Rolling helps mix together a variety of chemicals found naturally within the leaves, enhancing oxidation. After rolling, the clumped leaves are broken up and set to oxidize. Oxidation, which starts during rolling, is allowed to proceed for an amount of time that depends on the variety of leaf. Longer oxidation usually produces a less flavorful but more pungent tea. Many texts refer to the oxidation process by the misleading term "fermentation." However traditional and evocative the term may be, I think it is best avoided. Oxidation of tea leaves is a purely chemical process and has nothing to do with the yeast-based fermentation that produces bread or beer. Finally, the leaves are heated, or "fired," to end the oxidation process and dehydrate them so that they can be stored. Oolong is produced just like black tea, except that the leaves are oxidized for less time. Green tea is not oxidized at all. Some varieties are not even withered, but are simply harvested, fired, and shipped out.
Tea originated in China , as legend has it, 5,000 years ago, yet it was Ceylon (now Sri Lanka ) that made tea famous in the 19th and 20th Centuries, as the tea that was used by almost every major tea brand. Ceylon Tea is prized for its quality which is without parallel, and its variety which is unmatched for a small island boasting dramatically different teas in different parts of its tea growing regions. In assessing the value of Ceylon tea, some of the properties which tea experts take into consideration are appearance of the made tea, colour of the infused leaf, as well as colour, strength, quality, aroma and flavour of the brewed liquor. The ultimate criterion of a 'good quality' tea is however the the subjective assessment of expert professional tea tasters. Distinguishing itself as the 'Best in Class' producer of tea, with a well documented heritage in tea, Ceylon , or Sri Lanka stands out amongst tea producers. The Low Grown teas produced in Sri Lanka below 2000-ft sea level, are known for their superior leaf appearance, highly valued in the Middle East , the coppery 'infused leaf' and its strong & reddish brewed liquor. Sri Lankan low growns are prized for their appearance -'uniformly black', true to grade and devoid of fibre and extraneous matter. The High Growns, above 4000-ft sea level, on the other hand are known for their bright, coloury, brisk and aromatic liquors. High grown Ceylon teas do not share the dense, black colour of the quality low grown leaf being browner in leaf appearance, but have unsurpassed liquors ranging from light, bright golden colour to deep red. In Ceylon , particular emphasis is laid on the quality of tea, and this is determined by a complex of parameters, the correct balance of which is the quintessence of tea character. The appearance of the leaf (dry leaf after processing) is determined by the content of chlorophyll in the young and tender leaves of the tea shoot. The relative amounts of the polyphenols present in tea, the polyphenol oxidase (enzyme), the theaflavins, thearubigins, caffeine, essential oils, sugars, amino acids in the bud and the first two tender leaves will all contribute to the quality of the brewed liquor in a positive way. Hence the importance of traditional and disciplined picking of teas in Ceylon . The best raw material handled under poor conditions of manufacture would produce a poor quality tea. It is through attention to detail in field practices as well as in manufacture, that Sri Lanka retains its position as the Best in Class' producer of Quality Tea, considered by the Technical Committee of the ISO as the cleanest tea in the world.