Tea is made from the dried leaf of Camellia Sinensis. This plant is native to China and India and is now cultivated around the world. Tea was discovered nearly 5000 years ago, not reaching Europe until the early 1600's.
After picking, tea goes through the following stages:
Withering: The leaves are spread out and a current of warm air is passed over them, reducing the moisture content of the leaves by 50%.
Rolling: This process twists the leaves and breaks down the cell walls releasing the essential oils.
Fermentation: The leaves are spread out and exposed to warm, humid air at a constant temperature turning the leaf from green to black.
Drying: Regulated variable air temperatures halt the fermentation.
Sorting: The tea is graded into whole or broken leaf sizes and packed accordingly.
Black tea is produced when the leaf is oxidised during the fermentation process of manufacture. This gives rich flavours and deep red-orange infusions.
Green tea is only slightly oxidised/ fermented. The leaf remains green, producing milder, lighter flavour and paler yellow-green infusions.
Oolong tea is semi-fermented and consequently has qualities of both black and green tea.
White Tea is the rarest and most delicate of tea. Its name is taken from the white downy hairs on the bud of the unopened tea leaves. The tender bud and first two leaves are plucked. White tea undergoes minimal processing and the leaves are not oxidised, as the fermentation process is not used. This helps retain more of the beneficial properties of the leaf.
This is a term given to infusions consisting of one or a blend of botanicals such as chamomile, peppermint or lemongrass.
Use cold water and allow it to run for a few seconds to ensure it is aerated, as the oxygen in the water helps release the tea flavours.
(Do not start with hot water or use pre-boiled water.)
Use filtered or bottled water if the tap water has a taste.
Preheat teapot or cup.
Bring water to the boil and pour on tea leaves or bag.
As a general rule leave for three to five minutes. Adjust to taste.
Add milk, sugar, lemon if desired.
Store tea in a clean, dry, airtight container in a dark place and at room temperature.