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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Origin of Tea

Posted by patrick

By Jim Benard

In The Beginning... There Was Tea

History tells us that tea has been around for at least 3,000 years. We know that is was first grown in China and China still produces some of the best tea today. The best Oolong tea is grown in Taiwan. Japan is best known for its green tea.

We know that the British were responsible for spreading tea to different countries. The British set up huge tea plantations in India. Today, India, Sri Lanka, and other Asian countries produce a large amount of the world's tea.

What Exactly Is Tea?

Most people call the leaves that tea is made out of, tea leaves. The actual technical term for the plant used to make tea is Camellia sinensis. The most common way people drink tea is by putting the tea leaves in hot water. Tea is also the name given by the British to mean a mid-afternoon meal where tea is served with different foods.

There are 3 main types of tea: black, green, and oolong. What most people may not realize is that these 3 types are all made from the same Camellia sinensis plant. What makes them different are how the leaves are processed. With green tea, the leaves are not oxidized. Black tea is oxidized for several hours and oolong tea receives a little less oxidation.

Many different types of tea varieties are available within these 3 categories.

What Exactly Is Herbal Tea?

Different types of herbs with health benefits have been added to tea. These are called herbal teas. Tea professionals sometimes will only use the word "tea" to mean pure tea. For these professionals, you will see them use the following names to mean herbal tea:

1. Herbal infusion with just means a herbal tea that is steeped in hot water.

2. Tisane which in French means all types of herbal drink.

Some common herbs that are used as tisanes are peppermint, chamomile, rose hips, lemon verbena, and fennel. A number of companies specialize in producing herbal blends. Many tea companies also sell tisanes.

You should be careful of the health claims on herbal teas. Some are pretty outrageous and are just not true. With that being said, many herbs do have proven health benefits like rose hips has a good amount of vitamin C. Another thing you should be careful about when buying herbal teas is that they can cause some bad health effects like people who are allergic to ragweed can have an allergic reaction to tea with chamomile in it.

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