True "teas" are made from the dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis, the tea plant, which was first cultivated in China and found growing wild in India. Chinese monks and European traders introduced it to Japan, Sri Lanka and other countries. Today there are more than 3000 varieties of tea, each having its own distinct character and named for the district in which it is grown. Green tea is produced by steaming fresh-picked leaves before heat-drying. Black tea is produced by allowing picked tea leaves to completely ferment before firing. Oolong teas are only partially fermented.
Herbal "teas" contain no true tea leaves, but are created from an international collection of herbs and spices such as Moroccan rosebuds, Oregon mint, tropical hibiscus, cinnamon from Indonesia and more. These all-natural botanical ingredients are combined to create exciting flavors and aromas in a rainbow of colors from pale yellow to deep red.
To make an 8 ounce (250 ml) cup of tea, use the following chart as a guideline. Adjust to taste
|White tea||2 tsp. (20 ml)|
|Green tea||1 tsp. (10 ml)|
|Oolong tea||2 tsp. (20 ml)|
|Black tea||1 tsp. (10 ml)|
|Herbal "tea"||Start with 1 tsp. (1 gm), and increase to desired taste.|
Green tea has a high content of vitamins and minerals. It contains ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in amounts comparable to a lemon. Green tea also contains several B vitamins which are water soluble and quickly released into a cup of tea. Five cups of green tea a day will provide 5-10% of the daily requirement of riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, and pantothenic acid. The same five cups of green tea also provide approximately 5% of the daily requirement of magnesium, 25% of potassium, and 45% of the requirement for manganese. Green tea is also high in fluoride. A cup of green tea provides approximately 0.1 mg of fluoride, which is higher than in fluorinated water. Scientific studies have shown strong evidence that green tea may help reduce the risk of strokes and heart disease, and may also prevent some cancers.
Centuries ago the inventive Chinese, who created the earliest banking system with coins and paper bank notes, found that their currency had no value when trading with people in far away Mongolia and Tibet. Their solution to this problem was to turn their most valued product, tea, into bricks. The tea bricks were even scored so they could be broken to make change. Today, these sculpted tea bricks with traditional Chinese motifs, are mainly used for decoration as the quality of the tea is very poor. They make very unique gifts and interesting conversation pieces.
Tip: If you choose to purchase a tea brick you may want to apply a coat of clear lacquer to protect it from humidity.
Matcha tea is used in the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony. For the ceremony the powdered Matcha is measured with a chashaku (bamboo spoon) and is placed in a chawan (serving bowl). Hot water is added, then whipped with a chasen (bamboo whisk) until frothy. The thick, frothy tea is consumed straight from the bowl.