Tea has been regarded for many years for promoting good health, happiness and wisdom. It has a history dating back over 5,000 years ago. Before the 8th Century B.C. Chinese tea was primarily used as a medicine, still to this day aged leaves and the stem of the plant are used to make medicine. China is still the biggest producer of tea supplying about 29% of the world’s total market. While there are hundreds of varieties of Chinese tea, most fall into five basic categories; White Tea, Green Tea, Black Tea, Oolong Tea and Pu-erh Tea. These five are all harvested from the same species –Camellia Sinensis (ChaHua), but are processed differently to attain different levels of oxidation. Another category of tea is known as ‘Scented Teas’ (Jasmine Tea). Some teas are made from herbs, fruits, seeds or roots however they have a lot less antioxidants than the basic five teas.
Tea plants are propagated from seed and cutting; it takes about 4 to 12 years for a tea plant to bear seeds and about three years before a new plant is ready for harvesting. In addition to a zone 8 climate or warmer, tea plants require at least 127 cm (50 inches) of rainfall a year and prefer acidic soils. Many high-quality tea plants are cultivated at elevations of up to 1,500 m (4,900 ft) above sea level. While at these heights the plants grow more slowly, they acquire a better flavour.
Only the top 1–2 inches of the mature plant are picked. These buds and leaves are called flushes. A plant will grow a new flush every seven to fifteen days during the growing season. Leaves that are slow in development tend to produce better-flavoured teas. The first ‘flush’ of leaves are considered the highest quality leaves – the older the leaves are the poorer quality.
Tea processing is the method in which the leaves from the tea plant Camellia sinensis are transformed into the dried leaves for brewing tea. The categories of tea are distinguished by the processing they undergo. In its most general form, tea processing involves different manners and degree of oxidation of the leaves, stopping the oxidation, forming the tea and drying it. The innate flavour of the dried tea leaves is determined by the type of cultivation of the tea bush, the quality of the plucked tea leaves, and the manner and quality of the production processing they undergo. After processing, a tea may be blended with other teas or mixed with flavourants to alter the flavour of the finished tea.
There are a number of Chinese brewing vessels, e.g. Gai Wan, Purple Clay Tea Pot, Gong Dao Bei etc..They can be made out of a range of different materials for example Porcelain, Clay or Glass.
After brewing and straining the tea you then decant the liquid into another cup which you would drink it from. If the tea is allowed to steep too much or too little it can cause the tea to either be too weak or bitter.
- Green Tea
- Black Tea
- Oolong Tea
- Jasmine Tea
- Pu-Erh Tea
- Chinese Vessels
- Standard Steps of Brewing Chinese Tea