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Discover Why Tea
Has Lasted 5,000 Years
Black Tea is a beverage that dates back to the Chinese Ming Dynasty in the 17th century. It was also the first type of tea to ever be introduced to Europe. Prior to its introduction, only oolong and green tea was consumed regularly. It’s discovery was actually purely coincidental.
As the story goes, during a time of war, an army from Jinaxi invaded the Fujian province. The army decided to set up camp right by a large tea factory. This, in turn, completely halted all tea production. As the tea leaves sat out in the sun for a prolonged period of time, the leaves began to undergo a period of oxidation. Their color slowly began to turn from green to that of a dark red. In order to “save” the tea, a farmer decided to take the leaves and place them over a fire of pinewood. The smoky new beverage that came from the farmer’s effort turned out to be the first ever batch of Black Tea.
Black tea is known for having a stronger taste than its counterparts. In a general sense, Black Tea has a robust and brisk taste to it. It is popular for its long shelf life and ability to be enjoyed either hot or cold. Health wise, it is full of antioxidants. Polyphenols are the main source of antioxidants found in Black Tea and are very important in promoting overall health.
In a general sense, Black teas are unique because they undergo a full oxidation and fermentation process. This is slightly different than a Pu-erh tea, which is actually post-fermented. That is, it was fermented, stopped, and then fermented again.
White tea was first discovered during the Song Dynasty, a period of time that took place between the late tenth and mid thirteenth century. The tea was considered so delicate and rare that only the emperor himself and his court consumed the beverage. It was not until the 19th century when White tea began to expand globally due to new innovations in tea cultivation. Today, it is the fastest growing tea in terms of popularity.
White tea is intrinsically unique in a few ways. For starters, White tea only comes from tea bushes that have been harvested at the start of the growing season. It’s yields consist of young springtime leaves and plant buds. After harvesting, the tea is slightly oxidized and fermented. Leaf drying is done in the sun and halted nearly after cultivation, which helps White tea retain its natural catechins and antioxidant properties. In turn, white tea has a delicate floral flavor, delivering on light and fruity notes from its unaltered state.
White teas have many beneficial health benefits stemming from its lack of oxidation. Note, the amount of oxidation is not an indicator of how many health benefits a tea will have, just the amount of catechins present in a drink. A catechin is a natural phenol and antioxidant. Black teas, however, get some of their health benefits from Xanthines, which are brought during the oxidation process. Both drinks have high amounts of polyphenols and other types of antioxidants.
The use of tea leaves for medicinal purposes have been documented in China over the course of three millenium. The first recorded time that Green Tea was harvested as a beverage, however, was during the 8th century in Lu Yu’s “Tea Classics.” This text was the first known monograph on tea in the world and describes the making of a steamed Green tea. Today, Green tea has taken a back seat to Black tea in terms of popularity, but still accounts for 20% of the world’s tea production.
Green tea, as in the name, is oftentimes green but can also appear yellow or light brown. Opposed to a White tea, Green tea leaves are dried in the shadows opposed to direct sunlight. It will never undergo oxidation since fermentation is stopped through steaming/panning. Green tea’s taste is often described as grassy and vegetal. Taste depends on where the tea was grown, how it was processed and brew method.
Oolong tea has a very muddied history, for there is no written record of its origins. A few back stories are out there, but one thing is for certain. Oolong gained immense popularity at the beginning of the Ming dynasty at the end of the 17th century. It was highly heralded by emperor Qian Lung, who spread word of the delicious beverage across the region. Today, the best Oolong tea still comes from the Anxi and Fujian regions of China and Taiwan. Despite its newfound popularity, Oolong only makes up 2% of the tea sold in the global market.
Oolong tea is unique in many ways. For starters, it’s oxidation percentage can range from 1% all the way to 99%. Such oxidation process takes place while it’s leaves are partially fermenting, which differentiates it from that of a Green and Black tea. Green teas are unfermented, while Black teas are fully fermented in comparison. Additionally, Green teas are unoxidized, while Black teas are fully oxidized.
Oolong sits in the middle of both since it’s leaves are first withered and semi-oxidized in the sun. Then, they are brought into the shade to be completely dried. A lesser oxidized Oolong will have more of a floral flavor (like a White Tea), while a higher oxidized will have a deeper, full-bodied flavor (like a Black Tea). It is full of different experiences depending on the kind you get.
The history of tisane tea in Ancient Egypt dates as far back as 1,000 BC. Back then, a popular additive was peppermint, which was actually found within the ancient pyramids! In China, legends and tales of tea consumption go all the way back to nearly 2750 BC. A drink old as human history itself, the cultural significance, consumption, and health benefits of tisane tea have truly stood the test of time.
It should be noted that tisane tea is not actually a “true tea.” Instead you can consider it as a herbal infusion. The term ‘tisane’ additionally encompasses that of a herbal and fruit tea. They offer that greatest variety and flavor than any other tea due to their endless amount of combinations. Below you can see some popular Tisane tea and their different intended effects.
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