Tea is one of the most important drinks in the world. More than two million hectares are used for tea growth. Although it is already two thousand years when this drink is being used in Asia and almost several hundred years when it is used in Europe, nowadays the majority of people still do not know much about tea, what the tea is made of, what determines its final look, properties and quality.
The main regions of tea cultivation: India (India produces 1/3 of the world tea), Sri-Lanka (Ceylon Island), China, Indonesia, Kenya.
Characteristics and effect: black tea is fully fermented. During the fermentation process tea leaves are spread in 10cm layer on the shelving. Here the tea leaves are stored under the temperature of 40°C and humidity reaching 95-98%. Black tea is suitable for everyone, even those who cannot drink coffee.
How to prepare black tea: take one tea spoon of tea leaves for one cup. Pour the tea with filtered freshly boiled water, and leave to infuse for 3-5 minutes.
Main regions of tea cultivation: China, Japan, India
Characteristics and effect: in order to avoid the process of fermentation while making tea, tea leaves are first steamed or pan fried, then they are rolled and dried. Green tea stimulates central nervous system's work, stops the ageing process, protects from caries.
How to prepare green tea: take one tea spoon of tea leaves for one cup, and pour with filtered freshly boiled water, cooled to 60-90°C (depending on sort and quality of the tea). Then leave the tea to infuse for 3-4 minutes.
The main regions of tea cultivation: this sort of tea is made only in China.
Characteristics and effect: this sort of tea is not fermented or rolled. The primary products are tips and first flush leaves. The white tea differs from all other sorts of tea. Because of the unique manufacturing, white tea is low in caffeine ant tannins.
How to prepare the white tea: take two tea spoons of tea for one cup. Pour it with filtered freshly boiled water,cooled down to 60-85°C, and leave to infuse for up to 10 minutes.
Red Rooibos Tea
Main regions of tea cultivation: Southern Africa
Characteristics and effect: rooibos tea is caffeine-free, rich in calcium, fluorine and manganese. It is especially valued for large quantities of iron. If one suffers from insomnia or allergy, or there is a lack of iron, it is recommended to drink rooibos tea.
Main regions of tea cultivation: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay
Characteristics and effect: mate is very popular among tea drinkers, because it helps to improve metabolism and has no calories.
Preparation. Traditional method:
2/3 of a special pot, used to prepare mate and called gourd, is filled with mate. Pour some cold or slightly warm water then pour it out. Then gourd is filled with hot water. Mate tea can be brewed many times, up to the end, when mate looses all its flavour and taste.
The second method (European):
Pick up 6 tea spoons of mate and pour it with 1 litre of filtered cold water and then pour it out (cold water removes bitter taste). Then pour in hot water. Add honey to taste.
Main regions of tea cultivation: India, Africa, Europe.
Characteristics and effect: herbal "tea" is any herbal infusion not made from the leaves of the tea bush (Camellia sinensis). Herbal teas are often drunk for their medicinal or physical effects, especially for their stimulative, relaxant or calming properties.
How to brew herbal tea: take 1-2 tea spoon of tea leaves for one cup. Pour in filtered freshly boiled water, and leave to infuse for 7-10 minutes.
Main regions of tea cultivation: Asia, Africa, Southern America, Europe
Characteristics and effect: fruit tea is a blend of carefully picked up leaves, petals and dried fruits. The liquor is notable for rich reddish colour and flavour of fresh and ripe fruits. Fruit tea is caffeine-free, and suitable to drink any time. Preparation: take one tea spoon of tea for the cup and fill up with filtered boiling water. Leave to infuse for 8-10 minutes.
Grown in: South America. Lapacho is obtained from the outer, red-colored bark of the Lapacho tree. Once Incas and their descendants reached fascinating results in medicine. Now we rediscover plants that they used for healing.
Features and effects: It is rich in mineral substances: iron, potassium, manganese, magnesium as well as micro elements: strontium, iodine and other. Lapacho tea helps with anemia, allergy, bronchitis, gastritis, diabetes and tumor diseases. This tea is also recommended after a chemotherapy course, it soothes the pain, has a calming effect, decreases blood sugar. Supposedly, that this tea works great in cases of insomnia, states of anxiety, fear, it is caffeine free
Preparation: take four tea spoons of tea leaves for 1 litre of water. Put the tea leaves into the boiling filtered water and boil for 15 minutes. Leave the tea to stand for another 15 minutes and strain it.
Red Honeybush Tea
Main regions of tea cultivation: Southern Africa.
Characteristics and effect: honeybush is a plant that grows in Southern Africa, with bright-yellow leaves and bees' favourite delicate honey-like flavour. Honeybush tea is much similar to rooibos tea: is it caffeine-free, contains small quantities of tannins, as well as other elements, essential for human organism. Honebush tea helps to prevent cancer, loose weight, and calms the central nervous system. Honeybush contains a lot of iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, cooper, etc. It can be an excellent base for punch or cocktails as well.
Guarana - is a South American plant, whose berries contain guaranine, a substance very similar to caffeine. Berries have been processed and used for centuries by the Amazon Indians as a natural stimulant. Guarana is often used as an ingredient in tea blends and it's also used as a fat-burning or weight-loss supplement.
Kombucha - is a fermented drink made from sweet tea and a Kombucha mushroom or “Kombucha culture”. It is an exotic and useful ingredient for tea blends. Kombucha tea is probiotic, detoxifying and energising drink.
PU ERH black tea
Pu-erh is a tea originating in the Yunnan Province in China and famous for its curative properties. People living on the border of Yunnan and Tibet have been drinking this tea since ancient times. Traditionally tea was taken from high mountains for processing and trade in huge baskets via narrow paths trough ancient forests to Pu'er town. This worldwide famous tea was named after the town.
Fermentation: it is a partially fermentated tea.
Regions of tea growth: this tea is only produced in China.
Features and effects: properties and colour of this tea are the result of specific fermentation, or “conservation”, to put it more precisely. Firstly, tea undergoes fermentation after which it is exposed to bacteria activity and then the process of fermentation resumes. Such a method of fermentation gives unique properties to Pu-erh tea. This tea increases metabolism, causes loss of weight and reduction of blood cholesterol. Researches show that regular consumption of Pu-erh tea (3–4 times a day), along with regular food helps to lose weight.
Pu-rh tea preparation: for one cup you need one teaspoon of tea. Usually, green tea is brewed by pouring boiling filtered water over it. The brewing lasts from 7 to 10 minutes.
Matcha refers to finely-milled Japanese green tea. The cultural activity called the Japanese tea ceremony centers on the preparation, serving, and drinking of matcha. In modern times, matcha has also come to be used to flavour and dye foods such as mochi and soba noodles, green tea ice cream and a variety of wagashi (Japanese confectionery).
Blends of matcha are given poetic names called chamei ("tea names") either by the producing plantation, shop or creator of the blend, or by the grand master of a particular tea tradition. When a blend is named by the grand master of some tea ceremony lineage, it becomes known as the master's konomi, or favoured blend.
In Tang Dynasty China (618-907), tea leaves were steamed and formed into tea bricks for storage and trade. The tea was prepared by roasting and pulverizing the tea, and decocting the resulting tea powder in hot water, adding salt. In the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the method of making powdered tea from steam-prepared dried tea leaves, and preparing the beverage by whipping the tea powder and hot water together in a bowl became popular. Preparation and consumption of powdered tea was formed into a ritual by Zen (Chan) Buddhists. The earliest Chan monastic code in existence, entitled Chanyuan qinggui (Rules of Purity for the Chan Monastery, 1103), describes in detail the etiquette for tea ceremonies.
Zen Buddhism and, along with it, the Chinese methods of preparing powdered tea were brought to Japan in 1191 by the monk Eisai. Powdered tea was slowly forgotten in China, but in Japan it continued to be an important item at Zen monasteries, and became highly appreciated by others in the upper echelons of society during the 14th through 16th centuries. Along with this development, tea plantation owners in Uji perfected techniques for producing excellent tea for matcha.
Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves also used to make gyokuro. The preparation of matcha starts several weeks before harvest, when the tea bushes are covered to prevent direct sunlight. This slows down growth, turns the leaves a darker shade of green and causes the production of amino acids that make the resulting tea sweeter. Only the finest tea buds are hand picked. After harvesting, if the leaves are rolled out before drying as usual, the result will be gyokuro (jade dew) tea. However, if the leaves are laid out flat to dry, they will crumble somewhat and become known as tencha. Tencha can then be de-veined, de-stemmed, and stone ground to the fine, bright green, talc-like powder known as matcha.
It can take up to one hour to grind 30 grams of matcha.
Note that only ground tencha qualifies as matcha, and other powdered green teas, such as powdered sencha, are known as konacha ("powder tea").
The flavour of matcha is dominated by its amino acids. The highest grades of matcha have more intense sweetness and deeper flavour than the standard or coarser grades of tea harvested later in the year.
The most famous matcha-producing regions are Uji in Kyoto, Nishio in Aichi, Shizuoka, and northern Kyūshū.