Tea Break #1

Hello, my name is Lyndsey and I am a teaholic.

Did you know that tea is one of the two most consumed beverages in the world?  (The other is beer, and I find that dichotomy immensely amusing.)  So if you’re a fellow Camellia sinensis enthusiast, you’ll understand my passion for this delightful, soul-warming drink.  Personally, I think tea is much more deserving of the title “drink of the gods” than ambrosia; it not only soothes the soul, but also most bodily ailments, from muscle cramps to headaches to insomnia.  And, it’s simply delicious.  Especially chai, yum.

Now, if you’re like me, you like to know about the things you love.  My favorite tea brand, Republic of Tea, published a book called Tea Chings (clever, no?) filled with everything you could possibly want to know about tea.  They also have a wonderful library on their website (http://the.republicoftea.com/library/) and they offer a series of Tea 101 newsletters for those who subscribe to their mailing list.  Being a teaholic, I signed up to recieve the email series, and being a blogger, I’m going to share them.

Tea 101: An Introduction to Tea

Tea dazzles us with its diversity. One plant, many dimensions. While the teas of the world reveal endless complexities and variations, all tea springs from a singular plant species: Camellia sinensis.  The four varieties of tea include:

Black tea
*Average caffeine content is 50 mg per 6 oz. cup.
*Black tea is produced when withered tea leaves are rolled and oxidized causing the leaves to turn dark. Once the desired color and pungency is reached the tea is dried. A robust cup with bright or lively notes is produced.

Oolong Tea
*Average caffeine content is midway between green and black tea.
*Oolong gains its alluring character by withering and briefly oxidizing the tea leaves in direct sunlight. As soon as the leaves give off a distinctive fragrance—often compared to apples, orchids or peaches, this stage is halted. The leaves are rolled, then fired to halt oxidation when it is about halfway between black and green tea.

Green Tea
*Average caffeine content is 25 mg per 6 oz. cup.
*Green tea is produced when tea leaves are exposed to heat stopping the oxidation process just after harvest.. This allows the leaf to retain its emerald hue. Next, the leaves are rolled or twisted and fired. A bright, cup is produced with fresh grassy or vegetal notes.

White Tea
*100% White Tea contains only trace amounts of caffeine.
*100% White tea is the most minimally processed of all tea varietals. The fragile tea buds are neither rolled or oxidized and must be carefully monitored as they are dried. This precise and subtle technique produces a subtle cup with mellow, sweet notes.

(Herbal teas are not technically “tea,” as they don’t come from the Camellia sinensis plant.  We’ll learn about them later.)

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