Health — July 7, 2010
The noble Camellia senensis plant is at home in the West
Scott Morrow:Today I decided to come outside into the atrium because I wanted to talk to our viewers a little bit about tea. So I brought out a few tea pots here and I wanted to tell you a little about the purveyors we purchase our tea from here at The Blue OK. And then I wanted to talk little bit about the origins of tea and how it is that we came to be drinking tea here in the West.
Our earliest records of our drinking tea come from the Chinese. And that’s in about the 10th century before the Common Era. Then it’s going to be about 600 or 700 years into the CE that the Camillia sinensis plant, that’s where we get our tea, starts to show up throughout South East Asia. People are now no longer drinking tea for medical purposes. Now they are drinking it as as a tonic and as a stimulant. It’s going to be another 1000 years before we start to drink tea in the West. Then in about the mid 1600’s the folks in England have the East India Trading Company. They had colonized India and they were quite a trading force. They were trading for tea with China because China had this Camillia sinensis plant and the British wanted it. Well, that was great until the Chinese realized that the British really didn’t have anything that they wanted. So the tea relations broke down. England wanted tea and they didn’t know what to do so they introduced Indian Opium to China and they actually got the Chinese addicted to Opium. This was not a good thing and it caused the “Opium Wars”. If you don’t know about the “Opium Wars”, check it out on Wikipedia.
But this broke down the trade relations between British and China. So what the British did was they started cultivating tea in India. Tea became quite popular in India. Those folks really liked it. In fact they started adding a little bit of milk and sweetener to their tea. And they developed their own tea and they called it Chai. Now I’m sure you’ve had some Chai. We serve it frequently here in the Cafe. It’s used throughout the world. In fact, the people in India drink more tea than any other nation.
The people in England liked this idea and they started putting a little milk and sugar in their tea as well. And that’s where the origins of milk in your tea began, first in India then in England. Now here in the West a lot of people are familiar with ice tea and people like to put a little lemon in their tea. Well, this is a very good idea. Because recently a studies at Purdue University have shown that if you add a little citrus to your tea then it’s more easily absorbed into your blood stream and you can make faster use and more use of the antioxidants. Which is why tea is such a good thing. Tea as we know it–black tea, green tea, white tea, herbal tea–they all have antioxidants. And in fact, often times antioxidants make up as much as 25% of the weight of the tea that you’re drinking. So tea is good for you and antioxidants are good for you.
Now, lets talk a little bit about the different kinds of tea. There is black tea. Now, when black tea is harvested they just let it dry in the open area. It oxidizes and the leaves curl in and they turn black. And that tea has a lot of caffeine. About 1/4 of the amount of caffeine of what you find in a cup of coffee. Now if they don’t let the tea leaves turn completely black and they stop the oxidation process early, and then they finish off with a little steaming, that would be call oolong tea, which is a little bit lighter then the black tea.
If they harvest tea leaves and they don’t let them air dry at all, they don’t let them oxidize, and they steam or they roast those leaves, that’s how we get all the flavors of green tea. Because green tea isn’t allowed to oxidize and the leaves don’t turn black, and it retains a little bit more of the antioxidants.
And then there is white tea. White tea is when they harvest the tea leaves, they just cut off the tiny tips off the leaves and they don’t let those oxidize either. They quickly put them into a humidifier or lightly steam them to get what is known as white tea. And in fact, one of the teas I have right here this comes from a company that we get our tea from called “DaCha Teas” and this is Silver Needles white tea. So this is a really refined white tea. These are organic, fair-trade teas, from DaCha. They have a whole lot of teas. You need to go to their website, “DaCha Teas”, and check them out. Kim and Cere, if you’re listening, we really enjoy your tea here in the cafe and we look forward to seeing you sometime in the cafe soon.
Now another kind of tea we have in the cafe is Numi Teas at Numitea.com. And Numi Tea has a unique flowering tea. This is their flower. This is a dry flower, then it’s bound. If you put this little bound flower into your teapot, if you have a glass teapot you’ll be able to see what we have here. The flower opens up and distills the tea and it’s just a delicious tea and a delicious tea to look out as well.
So those are Numi Teas, flowering tea. They also have organic fair trade teas. So I want you to check out these two tea purveyors; DaCha Teas and Numi Tea. These are 2 excellent tea companies. We serve their teas in the Blue OK and we highly recommend them.
Until then, I’m here in the cafe everyday. People are coming in. We are talking to people about information and tools that benefit the human family. And we always hope to hear from our viewers. So please leave some comments here on the website. Let me know what you think about the tea. And if you have some information that we don’t know, please share it with us. In the meantime, we’ll be here in the cafe and we hope you’ll come and we hope you’ll come often. Thanks.
In this authoritative guide, veteran tea professionals Mary Lou & Robert J. Heiss provide decades of expertise on understanding tea and its origins, the many ways to buy it, and how to explore and enjoy the six classes of tea (green, yellow, white, oolong, black, and Pu-erh). Additional advice on steeping the perfect cup and storing tea at home, alongside a gallery of more than thirty-five individual teas with tasting notes and descriptions make The Tea Enthusiast's Handbook a singular source of both practical information and rich detail about this fascinating beverage.