1. How many variants of tea circulate the globe?
Presently, you can access over 1,500 types of tea from around the globe. This is why Tea Mantra's tea tasters have toiled over the expanse of time to water down the hunt for the best flavors & compiled an exclusive collection of the best of classics & fusions that are sure to give you a run for your money.
But if we root down to the basics, tea is neatly categorized into five strongly distinguished types.
The name generally derives its reference from the fine-white coverage of almost silvery hairs around the unopened buds of the tea leaves that lend them a whitish appearance during its nascent stage. Harvested mainly in the Fujian province of China, white tea comes from the unopened buds or extremely young leaves nipped early before they grow their actual size. The immature leaves or buds are simply left to sun-dry or lightly fried.
Popular Green Tea variants in China include Biluochun, Chun Mee, Gunpowder Tea, Huangshan Tea, Longjing, Lu'an Melon Seed, Taiping Houkui, Xinyang Maojian. Green Tea undergoes mild processing phases like sun-drying, charcoal or pan-frying, steaming, oven-drying, et cetera. Green tea is ideally served in a cup of hot water and left to be infused & consumed in a warm state, never placed under direct heat to simmer.
The other version of Green Tea minus the grassy undertone, Yellow Tea is known as "hwangcha". It is oxidized at a slower rate through the additional processes of steaming & encasing. This lends the leaves a much softer flavor that isn’t woody or grassy but much smoother and less lingering on your palate. Slow oxidation gives it its yellow tinge.
An integral beverage of Southern China, you can have your Oolong at different levels of oxidation (8 -85%). Their flavor depends on the level of their oxidation and the method of preparation. You can choose your cup of Oolong to be light & fruity or string & nutty. Oolongs are oxidized from strong heat exposure and undergo curling & twisting.
During the 19th Century, compressed blocks of black tea circulated around nations like Mongolia, Tibet & Siberia as a de facto currency. Black Tea gets its name & color from its strong oxidized tinge, Fully grown leaves from the lowlands of Assam account for the production of the highest amount of Black Tea in the world, offering a distinct, lustrous flavor often blended well with warm spices like bay leaves & ginger.
2. Who grows the best leaves?
In quantity, India is the second largest producer of tea after China. Our country produced the finest of the first, second and third season flushes, accounting for nearly 979,000 tons of it in the year 2009. Ever since the inception of tea-plantation in the hills of Darjeeling by Arthur Campbell, the prized Whites, Oolongs & Blacks have earned global fame as the "Champagne of Teas".
Also, the rich concoction of Assam makes the region the largest producer of tea in the world, growing strong "breakfast" worthy malts that serve as an ideal head start to the day with a strong serve of aroma & flavor.
The Nilgiri batches are ideal for blending due to its rich flavor reserves, but the first flush Nilgiri Orange Pekoe is sold for around 600 USD.
3. Is tea all about good taste?
Absolutely not! Green tea helps lessen the risk of cardiovascular diseases, body weight, blood pressure & bacterial infections. Green tea helps lower the levels of cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides which are basically harmful to the health of your heart.
A Japanese research carried on the year 2010 derived that one cup of green tea a day resulted in improved dental health and fewer incidences of tooth loss.
Packed with antioxidants, tea helps you keep aging at bay, and helps you fight incidences of cataract. It also helps lessen the level of Cortisol that is the main hormone that accumulates belly fat.
Consumed in a cup of warm water, involving tea in your daily diet is a healthy habit to cultivate to ensure the smooth functioning of your system. And owing to its addictive taste, being healthy was never so easy!
4. Why should I prefer tea over coffee?
A cup of tea contains half the amount of caffeine that's packed up in a cup of coffee. Make sure you pick the right beverage next time!
Despite having lesser levels of caffeine, a cup of tea rejuvenates you faster and keeps you fresh for longer. And unlike coffee, tea is packed with anti-oxidants that help you fight aging.
Coffee doesn't have any fluoride content, but Tea does, that helps you maintain your pearly whites. It also helps strengthen your bones and fight diseases like osteoporosis.
5. What is all the hype about?
Figures don't lie. Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the entire world, after water, of course. An average of 3 billion cups of tea is consumed every day. That is one cup per day for every adult human in the world.
The reason behind its popularity is many. But the most popular one is the variety in its flavor. You can choose among White, Green, Oolong, Black, Iced or fusion teas to embark on a unique gastronomical adventure. And every individual has his own unique preference when it comes to tea.
The story behind the accidental discovery of tea by the Chinese Emperor paved way for its popularity and made it an integral part of many rituals & cultures, especially in Asian countries. This elevated the position of Tea from being just a beverage. It became a household name and a worldwide preference that was not going to change anytime soon.
6. Anything extra?
If the previous fact did not faze you, you will be awed to know that Tea is the "national drink" of Iran, UK, Egypt, Ireland, Morocco, and more!
Whenever you buy a packet of tea, remember that 2,000 leaves were plucked & meticulously processed to make just one pound of that toasted goodness!
Unlike Coffee, the antioxidants in Tea make sure your body enjoys a slower, longer assimilation of caffeine, keeping you active for a prolonged period of time as compared to coffee.
Tea should always be stored in an airtight container because moisture destroys its freshness. Also, placing the container near pungent food items like spices can make tea lose its delicate aroma.