Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tea and haiku poetry

Haiku, traditionally Japanese poetic form, certainly includes some examples of tea as motive.The most famous poet of Japanese Edo period Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) wrote a poem "A monk sips morning tea". Here it is translated by Robert Hass.

A monk sips morning tea,
it's quiet,
the chrysanthemum's flowering.

Here is an example of haiku by Stephen Fox...titled "Whisking tea"

seamless sky
winter water
whisking tea

side by side
offering, receiving
stars drift down

winter rain
tea bowls passed

no dream
whisking tea
voice of the kettle

winter chills
sweeping the tea room
vows renewed

Title: Haiku poem written in calligraphy on board about tea
Time and creator unkonwn
Source: California State University, Sacramento Library

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tea and stamps

Tea appears as a motive on stamps. I am a stamp collector but I must admit that I do not have such stamps. Still I managed to find few scans on the internet...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tea bag envelopes and tea labels collecting

Hi everyone! I decided to dedicate today's post to people collecting tea bag envelopes and tea labels.Tea bag envelopes started to be more popular in 1960. They are made of paper or aluminum. They protect the tea bag from deteriorating by exterrnal agentssuch as light and humidity. They are integral part of the marketing and promotion of each company.

If interested you can sea more of tea bag envelopes at
Kolekcja kopertek or at this Czech tea bags collector website
Tea labels are that pieces of paper located on one end of string which is connected with the tea bag itself. They are also object of collecting. The current world record holder in number of different labels collected is the German Felix Rotter. He has 10500 different tea bag lables from 93 countries. Unfortunatelly his web site only contains his personal info...nothing about his collection...It is a pity.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tea caddies

Tea caddy is a decorative box created for storing tea leaves. The word is believed to be derived from catty (the English word fora traditional Chinese measurement of weight called a jin), the Chinese pound.Some of the finest tea caddies were crafted of exotic woods (mahogany, rosewood..) adorned with tortoise shell, ivory, silver etc. Tea caddies were made of brass, copper and other materials too. Large tea caddies were known as tea chest. Nowdays tea caddies are regarded as ornaments or preserved in collections.

These are just some examples of tea caddies. If you want to see more just log on to World of Tea Caddy

Friday, July 27, 2007

White tea

White tea is made from new growth buds and young leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). The leaves are steamed or fried to inactivate oxidation, and then dried.White tea has kind of pale...white appearance. It contains higher level of caffeine than green tea. Everyone from chefs to medical researchers is praising white tea’s delicate flavour and health benefits. White tea contrains more polyphenols, the powerful anti-oxidant that fights and kills cancer-causing cells, than any other type of tea. As to 2004 study made at PaceUniversity in the USA white tea can help human immune system fight off viruses and dangerous infection-causing bacteria. The same study also concluded that fluoride-rich white tea helps prevent the growth of dental plaque, the main cause of tooth decay.How to prepare white tea? First of all, do not use boiling water cause it can ruin white tea's flavour. The Ideal water temperature for white tea is between 75-85 degrees Celsius. More tea leaves should be used than normally... start with 2 teaspoons for every cup of water. If desired you can use more. Tea is prepared in 5 to 8 minutes but some experts recommend time of up to 15 minutes.White tea is a specialty of Chinese Fujian province (southeastern China). The most popular Chinese white teas are Bai Hao Yinzhen (Silver needle), Bai Mu Dan (WhitePeony), Gong Mei (Tribute Eyebrow) and Shou Mei (Noble, Long Life Eyebrow). On mountain peaks of Chinese Yunan province (southwestern China) White Puerh tea is harvested. Other quality white teas are Darjeeling white from Darjeeling in India, Assam Whitefrom Indian state of Assam and Ceylon White grown in Sri Lanka.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Turkish tea

Turkish tea (Turkish: çay - read ç as ch in choice) is type of tea is the most popular beverage in Turkey, the North Africa, Middle East and the Horn of Africa.Turkish tea is actually a black tea produced on the eastern Black Sea coast.
About its preparation...Well, you need two special kettles (çaydanlık). Water is boiled in the larger lower kettle. Some water is used to fill the smaller kettle on top. There you put several spoons of loose tea leaves. That way a very strong tea is made. when served, the remaining water is used to dilute tea. People can choose between strong (Turkish: koyu - "dark") or weak (Turkish: açık - "light") tea.
Tea is served hot in small glasses. It is usually held by the rim, in order to save the drinker's fingertips from being burned. Tea is sweetened with beetroot sugar. In Turkey this tea is called Rize tea. Rize is Turkish province on
the Black Sea coast where almost all of Turkish tea is produced.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tea in literature

Tea is and has been a topic in literature. For today's post I chose a paragraph from "Lady Audley's Secret" (New York: Dover Books, 1974) by the British Victorian era popular novelist Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1837-1915).

[Lady Audley] looked very pretty and innocent, seated behind the graceful group of delicate opal china and glittering silver. Surely a pretty woman never looks prettierthan when making tea. The most feminine and domestic of all occupations imparts a magic harmony to her every movement, a witchery to her every glance. The floating mists from the boiling liquid in which she infuses the soothing herbs; whose secrets are known to heralone, envelope her in a cloud of scented vapor, through which she seems a social fairy, weaving potent spells with Gunpowder and Bohea. At the tea-table she reigns omnipotent, unapproachable. What do men know of the mysterious beverage? Read how poor Hazlitt made his tea, and shudder at the dreadful barbarism. How clumsily the wretched creatures attempt to assist the witch president of the tea-tray; how hopelessly they hold the kettle, how continually they imperil the frail cups and saucers, or the taper hands of the priestess. To do away with the tea-table is to rob woman of her legitimate empire. To send a coupleof hulking men about among your visitors, distributing a mixture made in the housekeeper’sroom, is to reduce the most social and friendly of ceremonies to a formal giving out of rations. . .

. . . My lady was by no means strong-minded. The starry diamonds upon her white fingers flashed hither and thither among the tea-things, and she bent her pretty head over the marvelous Indian tea-caddy of sandal-wood and silver, with as much earnestness as if life held no higher purpose than the infusion of Bohea.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tea in Russia

Tea came in Russia in the mid-1600s when the Chinese ambassador to Moscow made a giftof several chests of tea to Tsar Aleksey Mikhaylovich.Important event for establishment of tea culture in Russia was the Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689) which identified boundary line between China and Russia, making it possible for trade caravans to pass between two huge empires. The journyes to and from Moscow took more than16 months which made prices of tea very high. By the end of 1700s tea prices fell a bit. This enabled popularization of tea in Russian society.Russian tea customs were influcend by other cultures. For example, The samovar is an adaptation of the Tibetan hot pot. The samovar was also used as heater.Tea was, and still is, sipped from podstakanniki (under the glass); silver holders which hold the heat tempered tea glass. The podstakanniki are very similar to Turkish coffee cups.Typical Russian tea is a mixture of two or even three different teas. These different teas are prepared in separate pots. When mixed together in the cup, some extra hot water is added to dilute the mixture. The teapots are designed to sit one atop the other with the bottom pot holding the hot water.The next pot, typically, will be a very dark tea followed by a pot of herbal or mint flavored tea.The Samovar is Russian most popular teapot. By 1800 it became very important part of traditional Russian household. Samovar exists in different sizes from 3 upto 30 liters. The record holderis the one made in Tula in 1922 who can hold 250 litres of liquid. Materials which were and areused in making of Samovars are copper, bronze, iron and silver. As to the above mentioned high price of tea samovar were sybol of economic status.Tea was served by the lady of the house to her family and guests. Rich families had two samovars.One for every day situations and one for special occasions.Because of a special tube (which contains charcoal or wood) connected to the body of samovar enables boiling of water. A small teapot with concetrated, dark tea, called zavarka, is kept on top of samovar. Water from samovar is used to dilute this tea. Today electric samovars are produced. Many of them are decorated with nice pictures.

Russian samovar, photo by Yannick Trottier,
2005 Russian Samovars:
Tula Samovar

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rooibos tea

Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) tea is one of my favourite herbal teas. Word Rooisbos in Afrikaans (language derived from Dutch, mainly spoken in South Africa and Namibia) means"red bush". In South Africa Rooibos tea is commonly known as red tea. Rooibos is only grown in a small area in the Cederberg region of the Western Cape provinceor to make it simple approximately 300 km north of Cape Town in South Africa. Rooibos leaves are oxidized. That way they get special reddish-brown colour. Unoxidized "green" rooibos tea is also available. In South Africa Rooibos tea is drank with milk and sugar. That is not the case in other part of the world. Rooibos tea is delicious served hot or cold and can be added to beverages, sauces, soups and stews,and meals to enhance flavor and color Preparation of Rooibos tea is more or less the same as black tea...The difference is thatlonger time of preparation improves Rooibos tea. Growing popularity of Rooibos tea in the western world is primarily due to its high level of antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), its lack of caffeine and its very low tannin levels (since tannins can affect the metabolism by decreasing absorption of certain nutrients like iron and protein). Ongoing research continues to uncover diverse healing properties from clearing acne and resisting signs of aging, improving adult digestion, soothing depression, easing colic in babies and relieving allergies, to fighting cancer.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Tea bags

Despite opinions that loose leaves make a better tea and the fact that many famousteas are only available as loose leaves I decided to dedicate this post to tea bags. Many of us use them to prepare our cups of tea...First hand-sewn silk muslin tea bags were patented in 1903. New York tea and coffee shop merchant Thomas Sullivan was the first who started using tea bags commercially in 1904.Today tea bags are made of a special paper which is a combination of wood and vegetablefibres. Most tea bags are of square or rectangular shape. But there are circular or pyramidal tea bags too.Some tea bags also have a string stapled to one side, long enough for a paper tag stapled to the other end to remain out of the hot water while brewing. This allows for easier removal of the tea bag, without using a spoon, or fingers.There are people who found kind of artistic purpose to tea bags. In 1992 Dutch woman Tiny van der Plas created technique of tea bags. is a form of origami in which identical squares of patterned paper (cut from the front of teabag sachets) are folded, and then arranged in rosettes. These rosettes are usually used to decorate gift cards.
Some examples of the above mentioned craft can be found at this web site

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tea time in the UK

Like so many things in life...tradition of afternoon teas in the UK has its story behind it. It is believed that Anna Maria Stanhope, Duchess of Bedford (1783-1857), "invented" this tradition in 1841. With drinking tea and having a bite to eat in the mid-afternoon she tried to make the gap between lunch (eaten at about 1:00 pm) and dinner (eaten at about 7:00 pm) somehow easily bearable. Everything soon developed into an important social occasion organized daily at 5:00 pm.Inviations were made verbally or by note. Everything was rather flexible as guests were free to arrive when it suited them and leave when they wanted to. Little bit about the event itself...Well, the hostess would pour the tea, butit was duty of the men to hand the cups around. If there was no men present,this was done by the daughters of the hostess or the young women present. It was fashionable for women to wear tea gowns, which were not so formal like evening gowns. Oh yes, many for women to wear gloves too. That is why hosstes would offer some biscuits as person wearing gloves could eat them easier than for example sandwiches.Tea time and tea drinking in generally still play are huge importance in life of people in the UK. The British are one of the largest per capita tea consumers in the world with each person consuming on average 2.1 kg per year.Tea is usually black tea served with milk (not cream) and sometimes with sugar. Strong tea served with milk and often two teaspoons of sugar, usually in a mug. This is called builder's tea. Drinking tea is not ceremoniously done like in past. For working people in the UK drinking tea is part of their day at work. Tea breaks are organized by emplyers. Biscuits are sometimes served too.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tea in China

As to Chinese saying there are seven basic daily necessities as fuel, rice, oil, salt, soya sauce, vinegar, and tea.. The finest tea in China is grown at altitudes of 910 to 2,124 meters. People often use spring water, rain and snow water to make their tea. Chinese think that green tea is the best when prepared in glass tea ware. Scented tea isthe best in porcelain ware while Oolong tea should be prepared in purple clay tea ware. Most popular wares is one from the Yixing (Jiangsu province - east coast of China) and Jingdezhen (Jiangxi province - southern China). Tea wares consist of mainly teapots, cups, tea bowls and trays etc.
Each guest in Chinese homes is immediatelly served with a cup of tea. It is a symbol of togetherness, a sharing of something enjoyable, a way of showing respect to visitors. Guest shouldtake at least a sip. Refusing cup of tea might be treated as rude. A host, when pouring tea, won't fill guest's cup completely. The tea will make seven tenth of cup. The rest three tenth will be filled with friendship and affection. Person drinking his or her cup of tea has to empty it in three gulps.In southern China after a person's cup is filled, that person may knock their bent index and middle fingers (or some similar variety of finger tapping) on the table to express gratitude to the person who served the tea.The younger generation always shows its respect to the older generation by offering a cup of tea. Going to restaurants and drinking tea, therefore, becomes an important activity for family gatherings.In Chinese culture, people make serious apologies to others by pouring tea on them. That is a sign of regret and submission.In the traditional Chinese marriage ceremony, both the bride and groom kneel in front of their parents and serve them tea. That is a way to express their gratitude. In front of their parents, it is a practicefor the married couple to say, "Thanks for bringing us up. Now we are getting married. We owe it all to you." The parents will usually drink a small portion of the tea and then give them a red envelope, which symbolizes good luck. The tea ceremony during weddings also serves as a means for both parties in the wedding to meet with members of the other family.There are hundreds of different Chinese tea. They can be classified in five main groups:green tea, black tea, brick tea, scented tea and Oolong tea.I have already written about green tea, black tea and Oolong tea...So, if interested please find those posts. Scented tea is very popular in northern China. It is a mixture of green tea withrose, jasmine, orchid and plum flower petals. Brick tea is brick shaped green or black tea. Itis mainly produced in Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan, Yunnan and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.The best ten Chinese teas are: Longjing (Dragon Well), Biluochun, Huangshanmaofeng, Junshan Silver Needle, Qimen Black Tea, Liuan Guapian, Xinyang Maojian, Duyun Maojian, Wuyi Rock Tea and Tieguanyin.There is a saying,"China has the best teahouses in the world and Chengdu has the best teahouses in China." Chengdu is a capital fo Sichuan province in southwest China. Teahouses in Chengdu are places of social gathering, entertainment, chatting. Local teahouses also offer programs of local artists and Sichuan opera.
Finally today here is the photo of teahouse on the West Lake (Xi Hu) in eastern China.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Japanese tea ceremony

Japan is certainly the country where tea preparation...if done in traditional way...is very complex.
For a Japanese tea ceremony is not only preparation of a beverage. It also has much deeper, spiritual meaning.
Japanese tea ceremony (chado or sado, "the way of tea") is influenced by Zen Buddhism. It is actually ceremonial preparation of powdered tea or matcha by specially trained person for a small group of guest. Everything is done in
very peaceful atmosphere.
Tea ceremony can be preformed as single event. This is called cha-no-you ("hot water of tea"). There is also cha-ji or chakai ("tea meeting") which is treated as full tea ceremony which includes kaiseki (a light meal), usucha (thin tea) and koicha (thick tea). This full ceremony lasts about four hours.
Person preforming tea ceremony has to be very educated. Apart from all kind of knowledge about tea this person has to know issues in connection with kimono, calligraphy, flower arranging, ceramics. That is why education of such person lasts for several years or even whole lifetime. The person preforming tea ceremony usually wears kimono.
It has to be said that even being a guest at tea ceremony is not easy. Person has to learn proper gestures, phrases etc.
What objects are needed to preform a Japanese tea ceremony? This tea preparation equipment is called dogu. Dogu includes
following basic object (full list of objects is very long and complex):
1) chakin is rectangular white linen or hemp cloth used for ritual cleaning of the tea bowl.
2) fukusa is square silk cloth used for ritual cleaning of the tea scoop and the tea caddy. Fukusa is also used to hold hot kettle or pot lids. Guests of the ceremony use fukusa to examine some objects during ceremony. Fukusa for men is usually purple and the one for women is orange or red.
3) hishaku (ladle) is made of bamboo with a nodule in the central part of the handle. Hisaku is used to move water to and from the iron pot and fresh water container.
4) tana ("shelves")includes different wooden or bamboo furniture used in tea ceremony
5) chawan (tea bowl). Shallow ones are used during summer as tea in them cools faster.
6) chaki (tea caddy) Chaki has two styles: natsume and cha-ire.
7) chashaku (tea scoop) are used to carry tea into the tea caddy. Chashaku are made from ivory, bamboo, Japanese apricot etc.
8) chasen (whisk) is carved from bamboo. Old and damaged chasen are not just thrown in garbage. They are carried to tempeles where they are ritually burned in the ceremony called chasen kuyo.
Japanese tea ceremony actually appears in several variation depends which traditional school is preforming it. Three main schools are Omoteseneke, Urasenke and Sansenke.
Tea ceremonies are usually organized outside or in a tea room or a tea house.
Now something about the ceremony itself, the way it is actually preformed. Guests entering the room where the ceremony is organized admire its beauty. Then everyone kneels on determined places on tatami mat. When guests are seated, the host (ceremony preformer) enters the room. He or she brings all the objects neccessary for tea ceremony. The hosts ritually cleans them with fukusa cloth. Moves during this process are specially determined. It takes lotof practise to learn them properly. Everything is done slowly, in kind of peaceful way. After this process the actual tea preparation begins. The water is boiled in metal or pottery kettle or pot. Hot water is thenpoured or scooped with the hishaku into the chawan. The chasen (tea whisk) is checked in a special way before being used to whiskthe hot water. The whisked water is then poured out into the kensui bowl and the tea bowl is cleaned with a chakin (linen cloth). This is done to cleanse the bowl after each guest has their tea, as well as being part of the ritual cleansing process.The guest are then offered some sweets. When everything is clean tea preparation begins. A small amount of powdered green tea (macha) is scooped with the chashaku (tea scoop) out of the natsume (tea caddy), into the tea bowl. Hot water is then poured or scooped into the tea bowl. The tea and water are then whisked quickly, making tea for the first guest.The first guest is offred tea by the host. He takes the tea. He appologizes to the guest sitting next to him for getting tea first.
It took me quite a while to write this post. And I know it is probably a bit difficult to read.
To make everything more fun I put this video. It's the best I could found on the Internet.

Monday, July 16, 2007

How to prepare a perfect cup of tea?

I know you think it is rather simple to prepare your cup of tea...I mean pour boiling (or very hot depending on the type of tea) water over tea leaves or a tea bag...and wait for few minutes. But when asking a true tea lover the whole matter is much more complex.
Recently I came across one of those guides to a perfect cup of tea...It was published in the Evening Standard (England) of the 12th January 1946. World famous writer George Orwell wrote there about things necessary for making great tea. Here are those instructions:
1. Use tea from India or Ceylon (Sri Lanka), not China
2. Use a teapot, preferably ceramic
3. Warm the pot over direct heat
4. Tea should be strong - six spoons of leaves per 1 litre
5. Let the leaves move around the pot - no bags or strainers
6. Take the pot to the boiling kettle
7. Stir or shake the pot
8. Drink out of a tall, mug-shaped tea cup
9. Don't add creamy milk
10. Add milk to the tea, not vice versa
11. No sugar!
That was an advice of a tea lover...Now let me write some advices of how to make a great cup of tea as presented by the United Kingdom Tea Council:
Use a good quality loose leaf or bagged tea
This must be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature
Always use freshly drawn boiling water
In order to draw the best flavour out of the tea the water must contain oxygen, this is reduced if the water is boiled more than once.
Measure the tea carefully
Use 1 tea bag or 1 rounded teaspoon of loose tea for each cup to be served
Allow the tea to brew for the recommended time before pouring
Brewing tea from a bag in a mug? milk in last is best

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Oolong tea

Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea which is regading oxidation somewhere between green and black tea. That is why some call it Brown tea.
The word Oolong means „black dragon“ in Chinese. As to the article by Fergus Ray-Murry, available at oolong.co.uk, several legends describe why this tea got its name. In one legend, the owner of a tea plantation was scared away from his drying tea leaves by the appearance of a black serpent; when he cautiously returned several days later, the leaves had been oxidized by the sun and gave a delightful brew. Another tale tells of a man named Wu Liang (later changed to Wu Long, or Oolong) who discovered oolong tea by accident when he was distracted by a deer after a hard day's tea-picking, and by the time he remembered about the tea it had already started to oxidize. Others say that the tea is called "oolong" because the leaves look like little black dragons that wake when hot water is poured on them.
Oolong tea leaves are often processed and rolled into long curly leaves or into ball-like form.
The best Oolong teas are those from Fujian Province and in the Central Mountains of Taiwan.
Out of really many different Oolong teas from Fujian Province let's mentioned just three: Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe), Si Da Ming Cong (The Four Great Firs) and Tien Guan Yin or Ti Kuan Yin (Iron Goddess). The best Taiwanese oolong teas are Dog Fang Mei Ren (Oriental Beauty), Alishan etc.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Green tea

It is by some called a „true“ tea. During production it is minimally oxidized. Some tea experts believe that all kind of small details influence making of high quality green tea. For example, different tea leaves require different time of picking. Some must be picked at dawn,some at dusk...The drying of tea leaves is not done unless it is necessary (for storage or transportation purposes).
Green tea is the most popular kind of tea in China, Japan, Korea, Morocco and the Middle East. It is becoming more and more exceptable in western world too.
Many high quality green teas are made in China. Eastern coastal region Zheijang is a home of great green teas like Longjing („Dragon Well“), Hui Ming, Long Ding (also known as „Dragon mountain“), Hua Ding, Qing Ding („Green Top“). Gunpowder („zhucha“) green tea is originally from Zheijang province but nowdays it is also grown in other parts of China.
Jiangsu and Anhui regions (east China), Jiangxi (southeast China), Henan and Hubei regions (central China) are some other green tea growing parts of China. As you have already noticed Names of local teas in China are rather exotic...Here are few more examples Chun Mee („Precious Eyebrows“), Hou kui („Monkey tea“), Lu An Guapian („Melon seed“), Yun Wu („Cloud and Mist“)...
Green tea (Ryokucha in Japanese) is so popular in Japan that people just call it „tea“ (ocha). The best Japanese green tea is the one from city of Uji in Kyoto prefecture. Very popular type of green tea in Japan is Matcha („rubbed tea“). It is powdered tea used mainly in tea ceremony. Matcha is also used as ice-cream flavour and in production of other sweets.
Green tea should only be drunk while it's hot. It should never be drunk if it was brewed more than 24 hours ago.
Claims that green tea has positive effect to human health are nothing new for people of China, Japan, India or Thailand. They are using it for thousands of years in controlling bleeding, healing wounds, regulating body temperature etc. In 1191 Zen priest Eisai wrote The Kissa Yojoki, or Book of Tea. There he describes positive effects of green tea on five vital organs, especially the heart.
Green tea contains, when compared with other teas, the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. As to the University of Maryland Medical Center in the USA there are reports claiming green tea can improve condition of people having atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, cancer, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), diabetes and liver disease. Some studies suggest that green tea extract may boost metabolism and help burn fat.
I'll finish this post with a video...It describes...in rather simplified and a bit funny way the preparation of a green tea...The video was made by some Japanese students. Have fun!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Black tea

What is Black tea? All tea leaves are green when harvested. Some are processed green. Those used for black tea are left to oxidize or fermentate. Oxidation and so called firing turn the tea leaf black. During firing leaves are kept over fire (for example Lapasang Souchong tea from Mount Wuyi in Chinese Fujian province is kept of over burning pine wood which gives that tea a very special aroma) or in owens. Black tea makes over ninety percent of all tea sold in the western world.

Black tea can keep its flavour for a long time. This fact contributed to the fact that black tea, compressed in brick shaped object, was regarded as sort of currency in the 19th century Mongolia, Siberia and Tibet.
During Chinese Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) black tea was used as cloth dye substance for people who could not afford clothing colours of that time.
Let's return to the word black tea...In western world it is called that way because of the colour of its leaves. On the other side in China and related Asian cultures it is called red tea (Mandarin Chinese hóngchá, Japanese kocha, Korean hongcha) because of red colour of tea liquid.
Different kinds of black tea are named after regions where they are grown. The most famous black teas are:
Keemun, Dian Hong and Ying De Hong from China
Assam, Darjeeling and Nilgiri from India
Ceylon from Sri Lanka
Rize tea from Turkey
Black tea is often mixed with other plants. Hsiang Pian tea is in many Chinese restaurants served with a small amount of dried jasmine flowers. Pu-erh or Pu'er tea of Chinese Yunan province is sometimes mixed with rose buds or white chrysanthemums.
In the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries black tea is usually consumed with milk.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


First of all let me welcome you on my blog. I decided to dedicate it to tea. You have been drinking it, I am sure. It is one of world's most popular beverages. Have you ever wondered what is tea exactly? Tea is a beverage made by steeping processed leaves, buds, or twigs of the tea bush, Camellia sinensis, in hot water for a few minutes.
It is also importnat to mention term „herbal tea“. This beverage does not include tea plant. It is a mixture of different herbs, flowers, fruit, root of plants. It does not contain caffeine.
Tea (Camellia sinensis) is an evergreen plant. To enable easy plucking (harvesting) tea plant is kept to a size of around 1 meter. If untouched tea plants can grow to a height of 15 meters. Tea plant can live for more than 100 years.
Several factors contribute to the flavour of tea – the region, type of soil, terrain, altitude, climate, the time of the year the tea is plucked and even the direction of the wind. Experts think that the best tea is made of the two uppermost tender, young leaves and a small unopened bud. They are called "two leaves and a bud"
More than 3 000 varieties of tea are known. Four of those are regarded as basic: black tea, oolong tea, green tea and white tea. Tea is a natural source of the amino acid theanine, methylxanthines like caffeine and theobromine, and polyphenolic antioxidant catechins. It includes almost no carbohydrates, fat and protein.
History of tea is really long. Tea is being drank for at least 5000 years. There are even some stories about the way tea was discovered. The first one bring us to 2737 BC China which was then ruled by the Emperor Shennong. He liked his drinking water boiled before he drank it so it would be clean, so that is what his servants did. One day, on a trip to a distant region, he and his army stopped to rest. A servant began boiling water for him to drink, and a dead leaf from the wild tea bush fell into the water. It turned a brownish colour, but it was unnoticed and presented to the emperor anyways. The emperor drank it and found it very refreshing, and cha (tea) was born.
As to the second story presented at the web site of the United Kingdom tea council it is possible that tea was discovered by the Indian prince Bodhidharma who converted to Buddhism and in the sixth century and went to China to spread the word. He believed that it was necessary to stay awake constantly for meditation and prayer, and took to chewing leaves from the tea shrub, which acted as stimulant, helping him stay awake. (An alternative, more macabre version has Bodhidharma accidentally falling asleep, and upon waking cutting off his own eyelids in disgust at himself. He threw the eyelids away, and from them sprouted the first tea shrub.)