Hello brew crew…
A little fact to start us off... Did you know that tea is the most consumed beverage in the world after water?!
So go on then, grab that cuppa as today we are here to tell you what goes into making that lovely tea of yours.
One day I will manage to visit a tea plantation.. until then this picture is from @Kellymlacy
This is the "Camellia Sinensis" commonly known as the “Tea Plant" or “Tea shrub” and is where most tea comes from! All green tea, black tea, white tea and Oolong come from this wonderful shrub. It is the different growing conditions, processes and manufacturing that differentiate them.
*** Rooibos Tea is different; this naturally decaffeinated little number comes from South Africa and from the “Aspalathus Linearis” plant. This is nicknamed the "red bush" due to it’s wonderful colour after oxidisation. ***
The Tea plant originates in china, but now it is grown in so many countries around the world including: India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Japan, Vietnam, Kenya and Indonesia to name a few.
It loves a high altitude and a tropical climate that is consistent year round, so you will notice these are all fairly close to the equator.
Now we know where to find our tea plant. What is the process from plant to cup?
Well most factories grade the tea into 3 basic grades, these can then be divided more specifically:
1.Rolled whole leaves – A premium tea which is hand or machine rolled and preserves the natural oils in the tea
2.Broken leaves – As it's described and creates a stronger punchier tea helping the leaves infuse, these create a great typical English Breakfast tea
3.Dust – Or also called Fannings, is literally… dust! It is the fine leaf powder that is left over, after other grades have been sieved off. Typically used in cheap tea bags.
So why do Teas taste so different if they all come from the same plant?
Besides the different grades of tea, they all have different levels of oxidation. This is basically a chemical reaction that happens to the tea leaves. This can start naturally on the plant itself, when picked but is increased rapidly when the leaves are bruised and rolled. This results in the browning of the leaves which is stopped at different stages depending on the desired tea being created usually by steaming, baking or drying.
White Tea: This is the least processed tea, it is just picked and usually dried out within a few days. With a mild sweet flavour, this tea contains the least caffeine and the most antioxidants.
Green Tea: Is the least oxidised and remains the closest colour to that before picking. It retains the green colour because shortly after harvesting the leaves are steamed or cooked to halt the oxidisation process. This tea has an earthy fresh flavour and is delicious with mint.
Oolong Tea: This is produced using a traditional Chinese method. This is a semi-oxidised tea which is processed by withering the plant under strong sun as soon as it is harvested, before curling and twisting the leaves. This tea is usually of high quality as controlling the temperatures and timings is particularly important. It is often known as a dark green tea.
Black Tea: The most common and by far the most popular of teas. This has a vigorous oxidation with the leaves usually torn, bruised and dried. They are fully oxidised with the dark colour, with this it creates the strong flavour we know and love. The flavour can still vary a lot depending on where it is grown and the exact processing method.
So as you can appreciate there is so much that goes in to making your tea before you have even thought of putting the kettle on!
I would like to give a big shout out to the wonderful local Yorkshire company who supply our tea for us… True Tea company. They are based near York and work very hard sourcing and supplying the worlds best tea. They are passionate about supporting small grass root suppliers, working with growers who are as enthusiastic about tea as they are!
This tea really is fantastic and I would urge you to give it a try!
I would like to ask you today as you are sipping that much loved blend please spare a thought for all the hard work that has gone into just one cup, make sure you savour every last drop.
Until next time #brewcrewyorkshire
Love Rosa xx