Tea Plantation Factory Cameron Highlands Nov 2000
Cameron Highlands is a highland region located about 121 km east of Ipoh and about 214 km north of Kuala Lumpur, in Pahang, Malaysia. At 5,000 ft (1,500 m) above sea level it is the highest area on the mainland, enjoys a cool climate, with temperatures no higher than 25 °C and rarely falls below 12°C year-round. Cameron Highlands is actually a district in the state of Pahang Darul Makmur although the road entrance is via Tapah and Simpang Pulai in the state of Perak Darul Ridzuan. Cameron Highlands district is bordered by Lipis district on the south-east, Kelantan on the north and Perak on the west. The size of the whole Cameron Highlands district is roughly two and a quarter times the size of Singapore.
Location of Cameron Highlands
When tea was discovered more than 5000 years ago, it was known for more than its refreshing, rejuvenating quality.
It was said that when Emperor Shen-Nung – the man to whom many attribute the beverage’s discovery – first introduced the brew to his court, he also declared it as having amazing health-giving properties. He recommended it as a remedy for kidney trouble, fever, chest infection and tumours ‘that come about the head’.
Since then, this modest beverage has been repeatedly touted throughout the ages as being a medicinal wonder.
During the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), the scholar, Lu Yu, wrote in his tea treatise, the Cha Ching (‘Tea Classic’): “When feeling hot, depressed, suffering from headache, eye ache, fatigue of the limbs, or pains in the joints, one should drink only tea, four to five times a day.' '
In 13th century Japan, a regiment of tea and prayer restored the health of the Kamakura shogun Minamoto Sanetomo as he lay dying from overfeasting.
In the 17th century, Dutch apothecarists sold tea alongside other herbs and balms. In 1686, Thomas Povey, British MP and Civil Servant, translated a Chinese encomium on the health benefits attributed to tea.
In the 18th century, an English doctor named Dr Thomas Short published ‘Discourse on Tea’ where he recommended it for ‘its eminent and unequalled Power to take off, or prevent, Drowsiness or Dullness, Damps and Clouds on the Brain and intellectual Faculties’.
Today, modern science gives credence to these ancient writings and beliefs.
In 1998, at the Second International Scientific Symposium held in Washington DC, Symposium Chairman Dr John Weisburger, who is also a senior member of the American Health Foundation, said: "Tea has great potential to help reduce the incidence of major disease worldwide especially when combined with a healthy lifestyle.”
Just how and why is tea so good for you? Decades of research reveals that this goodness lies in two vital elements that make up the drink:
* Its antioxidant concentration
The Story of Boh Tea
In 1929, a man named J.A Russell obtained a tract of freehold land 5000ft above sea level and transformed it into the first highland tea garden in Malaysia. He named it Boh. So begins the history of BOH Plantations.
Today, BOH is a vertically-integrated tea company, one of only a few in the world which plants, processes, packs and markets its own premium brands.
BOH Plantations owns four tea gardens with a total planted area of 1,200 hectares: Boh, Fairlie and Sungei Palas in Cameron Highlands, and Bukit Cheeding in the lowlands. Together, they produce 4 million kgs of tea annually. This is equal to 5.5 millions cups a day!
TEA IN THE CAMERON HIGHLANDS
Tea is very much like wine: its final character is largely influenced by the conditions in which it is grown. Hence, with its high altitude, low temperatures and slightly acidic soil, Cameron Highlands is the ideal environment for growing superb teas of distinctive flavour and aroma.
Only the most tender leaves are picked every morning at BOH’s tea gardens. These are immediately transported to the tea factories to be processed for the flavour and aroma unique only to BOH.
This process is essential for the leaf to develop the right flavour, colour and aroma. Thus, timing and temperature have to be carefully controlled. The leaf emerges coppery in colour
BOH Plantations Sdn Bhd
BOH Plantations Sdn Bhd is the leading tea grower in Malaysia with four tea gardens – Boh, Sungei Palas and Fairlie situated in Cameron Highlands; and Bukit Cheeding in Selangor – constituting a total land area of 1200 hectares. With a production capacity approaching 3000kgs per hectare, the Company produces 4 million kgs of tea annually which translates to about 5.5 million cups per day. This represents about 70% of all tea produced in Malaysia.
BOH dominates the domestic retail market. While maintaining its market position locally, the Company is also expanding into foreign niche markets. Today BOH exports its brand of prime grade teas to various countries including the USA, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Singapore and Brunei.
The Company is one of the few vertically-integrated tea companies in the world. It has operations ranging the entire spectrum of tea manufacture - from cultivation and processing to the packaging and marketing of its wide range of locally grown robust black teas.
BOH’s operations are mechanised while application of fertilisers is carried out aerially and harvesting is done by hand-held machines or raised tractor harvesters. Each of BOH’s tea gardens has its own processing facility and the Fairlie tea garden utilises some of the most modern machines in the world. BOH also packs all its tea at its packing facility in Bukit Cheeding.
In keeping with its commitment to quality, BOH conducts long-term research and development to ensure that only the best tea clones are cultivated. In-house tea quality teams are at hand to ensure that strict quality requirements are met at every level of processing.
BOH believes in playing an active role in the community and is keen supporter of the local performing arts scene. The Company is also an advocate for animal and environmental conservation.
BOH has won numerous awards. The Company’s packing facility in Bukit Cheeding received the ISO 9002 certification and the Company was awarded Superbrand status three consecutive years in a row. BOH also emerged as winner of the Superbrand Excellence Trophy award in Food & Beverage category in 2004. As an acknowledgement of its excellent brand identity, BOH received the National Creativity & Innovation Award from Malaysia Design Technology Centre.
Today, BOH is the Number One brand of tea in Malaysia. Yet, the Company is not one to rest on its laurels. BOH keeps abreast of its evolving consumer demographic and industry trends while continuing to produce distinctive teas for both domestic and international customers.
Antioxidants are an important discovery in modern medicine.
Free radicals are produced in the body every day through the process of oxidation. Whenever we breathe, the oxygen inhaled oxidises molecules in the body, causing them to lose an electron and become unstable. These unstable molecules are known as free radicals. In order to become stable again, these free radicals steal electrons and, in the process, damage key cells including fat, protein and genetic material.
This, under normal circumstances, is all part of the natural process of life.
Cue entry of antioxidants: Antioxidants help our bodies fight the wildfire of these free radicals by neutralising and eliminating them. Effectively, antioxidants as their name suggests, help to counteract the oxidation process and its harmful effects.
Antioxidants in tea
The main source of antioxidant activity in tea is polyphenols, in particular, a group known as flavonoids which are also found in fruits and vegetables (polyphenols are also responsible for the astringent taste of tea). The beverage also contains other antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene or vitamin A. It is worth noting that 85% of the antioxidants contained in a single tea bag are released within 3 – 5 minutes of brewing.
Findings also suggest that a small amount of milk added to tea enhances its antioxidant properties while too much milk will dilute it. It is recommended that the amount of milk added should be 2% - 10% of the volume of the tea.
One should be wary of tea that contains artificial colouring and flavouring, which can be carcinogenic. As part of the Company’s policy to produce only high quality tea, BOH tea does not contain any form of artificial colouring or flavouring.
Apart from water, tea is one of the most natural beverages known to man. Besides, tea is a pleasant way for our bodies to get the amount of fluid necessary for good health.
Tea contains caffeine which stimulates the central nervous system and respiratory function. It also influences the metabolic processes of all body cells.
The average cup of tea contains approximately 40mg of caffeine, half the amount contained in an average cup of coffee. Having 5 – 6 cups of tea a day is equal to an intake of 200 – 225mg of caffeine, an amount considered moderate.
This degree of caffeine is just enough for the beverage to stimulate immediately yet in a more subtle manner. That’s why a steaming cup of tea instantly comforts the body without over-stimulating the mind.
Tea also contains some milder stimulants known as theophylline and theobromine which acts in the same way as caffeine. In larger doses, they promote diurese (the natural waste disposal systems of the body) and aids coronary artery dilation to stimulate the heart and help blood circulation. These substances also help relax the muscles.
Tea refers to the agricultural products of the leaves, leaf buds, and internodes of the Camellia sinensis plant, prepared and cured by various methods. "Tea" also refers to the aromatic beverage prepared from the cured leaves by combination with hot or boiling water, and is the colloquial name for the Camellia sinensis plant itself.
After water, tea is the most widely-consumed beverage in the world. It has a cooling, slightly bitter, astringent flavor.
The four types of tea most commonly found on the market are black tea, oolong tea, green tea and white tea, all of which can be made from the same bushes, processed differently, and in the case of fine white tea, grown differently. Pu-erh tea, a double-fermented black tea, is also often classified as among the most popular types of tea.
The term "herbal tea" usually refers to an infusion or tisane of fruit or herbs that contains no Camellia sinensis. The term "red tea" either refers to an infusion made from the South African rooibos plant, also containing no Camellia sinensis, or, in Chinese, Korean, Japanese and other East Asian languages, refers to black tea.
In addition to a zone 8 climate or warmer, tea plants require at least 50 inches of rainfall a year and prefer acidic soils. Many high-quality tea plants are cultivated at elevations of up to 1500 meters (5,000 ft): at these heights, the plants grow more slowly and acquire a better flavor.
Only the top 1-2 inches of the mature plant are picked. These buds and leaves are called flushes. A plant will grow a new flush every seven to ten days during the growing season.
A tea plant will grow into a tree if left undisturbed, but cultivated plants are pruned to waist height for ease of plucking.
Two principal varieties are used: the small-leaved China plant (C. sinensis sinensis), used for most Chinese, Formosan and Japanese teas (but not Pu-erh); and the large-leaved Assam plant (C. sinensis assamica), used in most Indian and other teas (but not Darjeeling). Within these botanical varieties, especially the small-leaved China plant, there are many traditional strains and modern clonal varieties. Leaf size is the chief criterion for the classification of tea plants: tea is classified into (1) Assam type, characterized by the largest leaves; (2) China type, characterized by the smallest leaves; and (3) Cambod, characterized by leaves of intermediate size.
Processing and classification
A tea's type is determined by the processing through which it goes. Leaves of Camellia sinensis soon begin to wilt and oxidize if not dried quickly after picking. The leaves turn progressively darker as their chlorophyll breaks down and tannins are released. This process, enzymatic oxidation, is called fermentation in the tea industry, although it is not a true fermentation: it is not caused by micro-organisms, and is not an anaerobic process. The next step in processing is to stop the oxidation process at a predetermined stage by heating, which deactivates the enzymes responsible. With black tea this is done simultaneously with drying. Without careful moisture and temperature control during manufacture and packaging, the tea will grow fungi. The fungus causes real fermentation that will contaminate the tea with toxic and sometimes carcinogenic substances, as well as off-flavors, rendering the tea unfit for consumption.
Tea is traditionally classified based on the techniques with which it is produced and processed.
* White tea: Unwilted and unoxidized
Blending and additives
Some teas are not pure varieties, but have been enhanced through additives or special processing. Tea is highly receptive to inclusion of various aromas; this may cause problems in processing, transportation and storage, but also allows for the design of an almost endless range of scented and flavored variants, such as vanilla, caramel, and many others.
Dry tea has more caffeine by weight than coffee; nevertheless, more dried coffee is used than dry tea in preparing the beverage.
Tea has almost no carbohydrates, fat, or protein.
Origin and history
Based on morphological differences between the Assamese and Chinese varieties, botanists have long asserted a dual botanical origin for tea; however, statistical cluster analysis, the same chromosome number (2n=30), easy hybridization, and various types of intermediate hybrids and spontaneous polyploids all appear to demonstrate a single place of origin for Camellia sinensis — the area including the northern part of Burma, and Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of China.
Yunnan Province has also been identified as "the birthplace of tea...the first area where humans figured out that eating tea leaves or brewing a cup could be pleasant". Fengqing County in the Lincang City Prefecture of Yunnan Province is said to be home to the world's oldest cultivated tea tree, some 3,200 years old.
Tea and the Tang Dynasty
Whether or not these legends have any basis in fact, tea has played a significant role in Asian culture for centuries as a staple beverage, a curative, and a status symbol. It is not surprising, therefore, that theories of its origin are often religious or royal in nature.
Laozi (ca. 600-517 BC), the classical Chinese philosopher, described tea as "the froth of the liquid jade" and named it an indispensable ingredient to the elixir of life. Legend has it that master Lao was saddened by society's moral decay and, sensing that the end of the dynasty was near, he journeyed westward to the unsettled territories, never to be seen again. While passing along the nation's border, he encountered and was offered tea by a customs inspector named Yin Hsi. Yin Hsi encouraged him to compile his teachings into a single book so that future generations might benefit from his wisdom. This then became known as the Dao De Jing, a collection of Laozi's sayings. To honor Yin's generosity and its effect on the book's creation, a national custom of offering tea to guests began in China.
In 59 BC, Wang Bao wrote the first known book with instructions on buying and preparing tea, establishing that, at this time, tea was not only a medicine but an important part of diet.
In 220 , famed physician and surgeon Hua Tuo wrote Shin Lun, in which he describes tea's ability to improve mental functions: "to drink k'u t'u bitter tea constantly makes one think better..."
During the Sui Dynasty (589-618 AD) tea was introduced to Japan by Buddhist monks.
The Tang Dynasty writer Lu Yu(729-804 AD)'s (simplified Chinese: 陆羽; traditional Chinese: 陸羽; pinyin: lùyǔ) Cha Jing (The Classic of Tea) （simplified Chinese: 茶经; traditional Chinese: 茶經; pinyin: chá jīng) is an early work on the subject. (See also Tea Classics) According to Cha Jing tea drinking was widespread. The book describes how tea plants were grown, the leaves processed, and tea prepared as a beverage. It also describes how tea was evaluated. The book also discusses where the best tea leaves were produced. Teas produced in this period were mainly tea bricks which were often used as currency, especially further from the center of the empire where coins lost their value.
During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), production and preparation of all tea changed. The tea of Song included many loose-leaf styles (to preserve the delicate character favored by court society), but a new powdered form of tea emerged. Steaming tea leaves was the primary process used for centuries in the preparation of tea. After the transition from compressed tea to the powdered form, the production of tea for trade and distribution changed once again. The Chinese learned to process tea in a different way in the mid-13th century. Tea leaves were roasted and then crumbled rather than steamed. This is the origin of today's loose teas and the practice of brewed tea.
Tea production in China, historically, was a laborious process, conducted in distant and often poorly accessible regions. This led to the rise of many apocryphal stories and legends surrounding the harvesting process. For example, one story that has been told for many years is that of a village where monkeys pick tea. According to this legend, the villagers stand below the monkeys and taunt them. The monkeys, in turn, become angry, and grab handfuls of tea leaves and throw them at the villagers. There are products sold today that claim to be harvested in this manner, but no reliable commentators have observed this firsthand, and most doubt that it happened at all. For many hundreds of years the commercially-used tea tree has been, in shape, more of a bush than a tree. "Monkey picked tea" is more likely a name of certain varieties than a description of how it was obtained.
In 1391, the Ming court issued a decree that only loose tea would be accepted as a "tribute." As a result, loose tea production increased and processing techniques advanced. Soon, most tea was distributed in full-leaf, loose form and steeped in earthenware vessels.
In 1191, the famous Zen priest Eisai (栄西, 1141-1215) brought back tea seeds to Kyoto. Some of the tea seeds were given to the priest Myoe Shonin, and became the basis for Uji tea. The oldest tea specialty book in Japan, Kissa Yōjōki (喫茶養生記, How to Stay Healthy by Drinking Tea), was written by Eisai. The two-volume book was written in 1211 after his second and last visit to China. The first sentence states, “Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete." Eisai was also instrumental in introducing tea consumption to the warrior class, which rose to political prominence after the Heian Period.
Green tea became a staple among cultured people in Japan -- a brew for the gentry and the Buddhist priesthood alike. Production grew and tea became increasingly accessible, though still a privilege enjoyed mostly by the upper classes. The tea ceremony of Japan was introduced from China in the 15th century by Buddhists as a semi-religious social custom. The modern tea ceremony developed over several centuries by Zen Buddhist monks under the original guidance of the monk Sen no Rikyū (千 利休, 1522-1591). In fact, both the beverage and the ceremony surrounding it played a prominent role in feudal diplomacy.
In 1738, Soen Nagatani developed Japanese sencha (煎茶), literally roasted tea, which is an unfermented form of green tea. It is the most popular form of tea in Japan today. In 1835, Kahei Yamamoto developed gyokuro (玉露), literally jewel dew, by shading tea trees during the weeks leading up to harvesting. At the end of the Meiji period (1868-1912), machine manufacturing of green tea was introduced and began replacing handmade tea. Vietnamese teas are produced in many areas that have been known for tea-house "retreats". For example some are, located amidst immense tea forests of the Lamdong highlands, where there is a community of ancient Ruong houses built at the end of the 18th century.
Vietnamese green teas have been largely unknown outside of mainland Asia until the present day. Recent free-enterprise initiatives are introducing these green teas to outside countries through new export activities. Types:
* Lotus tea is a specialty product of the Vietnamese tea industry. Generally, high-quality green tea leaves are placed within lotus flowers for a day to acquire the scent, then are removed and packaged. A higher grade of lotus tea is made with lotus petals mixed in with high quality green tea leaves. Green tea style of Vietnam is to roll the leaves gently into crescents, and minimal handling. Vietnamese green teas are typically very potent. They are best brewed for most tastes for under 2 minutes using water temperature of 160 degrees. Beyond this time the tea will acquire a bitter taste that is nevertheless fancied by many tea lovers, as it reflects the potency of the tea leaves. Some fanciers will brew 3-4 times from one set of leaves, preferring the narrower flavor range of the later brewings.
* Jasmine tea is produced in two grades similar to lotus tea. Lotus tea is considered a specialty and is reserved for events or special meals. Jasmine tea is popular as a "chaser" for Vietnamese iced coffee, and is poured into the glass after the coffee is consumed, allowed to chill, and then enjoyed as a follow-up to the iced coffee in coffee shop cafes, particularly in the night life of major cities, where coffee shops are a popular social rendezvous on hot evenings.
* Artichoke Tea
During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the royal Yi family and the aristocracy used tea for simple rites. The "Day Tea Rite" was a common daytime ceremony, whereas the "Special Tea Rite" was reserved for specific occasions. Toward the end of the Joseon Dynasty, commoners joined the trend and used tea for ancestral rites, following the Chinese example based on Zhu Xi's text formalities of Family.
Stoneware was common, ceramic more frequent, mostly made in provincial kilns, with porcelain rare, imperial porcelain with dragons the rarest. The earliest kinds of tea used in tea ceremonies were heavily pressed cakes of black tea, the equivalent of aged pu-erh tea still popular in China. However, importation of tea plants by Buddhist monks brought a more delicate series of teas into Korea, and the tea ceremony. Green tea, "chaksol" or "chugno," is most often served. However other teas such as "Byeoksoryung" Chunhachoon, Woojeon, Jakseol, Jookro, Okcheon, as well as native chrysanthemum tea, persimmon leaf tea, or mugwort tea may be served at different times of the year.
Tea spreads to the world
The earliest record of tea in a more occidental writing is said to be found in the statement of an Arabian traveler, that after the year 879 the main sources of revenue in Canton were the duties on salt and tea. Marco Polo records the deposition of a Chinese minister of finance in 1285 for his arbitrary augmentation of the tea taxes. The travelers Giovanni Batista Ramusio (1559), L. Almeida (1576), Maffei (1588), and Teixeira (1610) also mentioned tea. In 1557, Portugal established a trading port in Macau and word of the Chinese drink "chá" spread quickly, but there is no mention of them bringing any samples home. In the early 17th century, a ship of the Dutch East India Company brought the first green tea leaves to Amsterdam from China. Tea was known in France by 1636. It enjoyed a brief period of popularity in Paris around 1648. The history of tea in Russia can also be traced back to the seventeenth century. Tea was first offered by China as a gift to Czar Michael I in 1618. The Russian ambassador tried the drink; he did not care for it and rejected the offer, delaying tea's Russian introduction by fifty years. In 1689, tea was regularly imported from China to Russia via a caravan of hundreds of camels traveling the year-long journey, making it a precious commodity at the time. Tea was appearing in German apothecaries by 1657 but never gained much esteem except in coastal areas such as Ostfriesland. Tea first appeared publicly in England during the 1650s, where it was introduced through coffee houses. From there it was introduced to British colonies in America and elsewhere.
The importing of tea into Britain began in the 1660s with the marriage of King Charles II with the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza where she brought to the court the habit of drinking tea. In the same year Samuel Pepys records drinking "a china drink of which I had never drunk before". It is probable that early imports came via Amsterdam or through sailors on eastern boats.
Regular trade began in Guangzhou (Canton). Trade was controlled by two monopolies: the Chinese Hongs (trading companies) and the British East India Company. The Hongs acquired tea from 'the tea men' who had an elaborate supply chain into the mountains and provinces where the tea was grown.
The East India Company brought back many products, of which tea was just one, but it was to prove one of the most successful. It was initially promoted as a medicinal beverage or tonic. By the end of the seventeenth century tea was taken as a drink, albeit mainly by the aristocracy. In 1690 nobody would have predicted that by 1750 tea would be the national drink. The origin of large trade in tea was the need for a return cargo from the East Indies. Merchantmen ships delivered fabrics manufactured in Britain to India and China but would return empty or partially full. To solve this problem the East India Company began a vigorous public relations campaign to popularize tea among the common people in Britain and develop it as a viable return cargo.
The escalation of tea importation and sales over the period 1690 to 1750 is mirrored closely by the increase in importation and sales of cane sugar: the British were not drinking just tea but sweet tea. Thus, two of Britain's trading triangles were to meet within the cup: the sugar sourced from Britain's trading triangle encompassing Britain, Africa and the West Indies and the tea from the triangle encompassing Britain, India and China.
Britain had to pay China for its tea, but China had little need of British goods, so much of it was paid for with silver bullion. Critics of tea at this time would point to the damage caused to Britain's wealth by this loss of bullion. As an alternative, Britain began producing opium in India and forced China to trade tea for opium as part of several treaties after the Opium wars. Tea became an important lubricant of Britain's global trade, contributing to Britain's global dominance by the end of the eighteenth century. To this day tea is seen as a symbol of 'Britishness', but also, to some, as a symbol of British Colonialism. The London 2012 section of the paralympic handover in Beijing included tea as part of the routine such is the strong connection made between Britain and tea. Tea is widely drunk throughout the nation.
United States of America
The American speciality tea market has quadrupled in the years from 1993-2008, now being worth $6.8 billion a year. Similar to the trend of better coffee and better wines, this tremendous increase was partly due to consumers who choose to trade up. Specialty tea houses and retailers also started to pop up during this period.
The Boston Tea Party was an act of direct action protest by the American colonists against the British Government in which they destroyed many crates of tea belonging to the British East India Company on ships in Boston Harbor. The incident, which took place on Thursday, December 16, 1773, has been seen as helping to spark the American Revolution and remains to this day one of the most iconic events in American history.
India was the top producer of tea for nearly a century, but was displaced by China as the top tea producer in the 21st century. Indian tea companies have acquired a number of iconic foreign tea enterprises including British brands Tetley and Typhoo. The per capita consumption of tea in India remains a modest 750 grams per person every year due to the large population base.
The plantations started by the British were initially taken over by the government in the 1960s, but have been privatized and are now run by 'plantation companies' which own a few 'estates' or tea plantations each.
Ceylon tea is divided into 3 groups as Upcountry, Mid country and Low country tea based on the geography of the land on which it is grown. Today, Ceylon tea is known as one of the best in the world.
Africa and South America
Potential effects of tea on health
Tea leaves contain more than 700 chemicals, among which the compounds closely related to human health are flavanoides, amino acids, vitamins (C, E and K), caffeine and polysaccharides. Moreover, tea drinking has recently proven to be associated with cell-mediated immune function of the human body. Tea plays an important role in improving beneficial intestinal microflora, as well as providing immunity against intestinal disorders and in protecting cell membranes from oxidative damage. Tea also prevents dental caries due to the presence of fluorine. The role of tea is well established in normalizing blood pressure, lipid depressing activity, prevention of coronary heart diseases and diabetes by reducing the blood-glucose activity. Tea also possesses germicidal and germistatic activities against various gram-positive and gram negative human pathogenic bacteria. Both green and black tea infusions contain a number of antioxidants, mainly catechins that have anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic and anti-tumoric properties.
Etymology and cognates in other languages
* (5) They are both direct derivatives of the Chinese 茶; the latter term is used mainly in the north and describes a tea made with freshly-picked leaves.
The Polish word for a tea-kettle is czajnik, which could be derived directly from cha or from the cognate Russian word. However, tea in Polish is herbata, which, as well as Lithuanian arbata, was derived from the Latin herba thea, meaning "tea herb".
It is tempting to correlate these names with the route that was used to deliver tea to these cultures, although the relation is far from simple at times. As an example, the first tea to reach Britain was traded by the Dutch from Fujian, which uses te, and although later most British trade went through Canton, which uses cha, the Fujianese pronunciation continued to be the more popular.
The Turkish word çay is used throughout the Balkans, as in Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, Serbian, Slovene: čaj, Albanian: çaj, Romanian: ceai, Bulgarian: чай, Slavic Macedonian: чајот, Modern Greek: τσάι. Thus the spread of the Turkish word çay roughly demarcates the westernmost extent of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans; the cognates of the Turkish çay are absent in the regions that once bordered the western edge of the Ottoman Empire (e.g. Hungarian: tea, and German: Tee are cognates of the English word tea).
In Ireland, or at least in Dublin, the term cha is sometimes used for "tea", as is pre-vowel-shift pronunciation "tay" (from which the Irish Gaelic word "tae" is derived). Char was a common slang term for tea throughout British Empire and Commonwealth military forces in the 19th and 20th centuries, crossing over into civilian usage.
The British English slang word "char" for "tea" arose from its Mandarin Chinese pronunciation "cha" with its spelling affected by British English arhotic dialect pronunciation.
In North America, the word chai is used to refer almost exclusively to the Indian masala chai (spiced tea) beverage.
The original pronunciation "cha" in the Cantonese and Mandarin languages has no [j] ending. Therefore it is merely an adaptation of the Mandarin and Cantonese word "cha" in mainly Eurasian languages that do not usually tolerate a syllable that openly ends in "[a]". The different articulations of the word for tea into the two main groups: "teh-derived" (Min Chinese dialects) and "cha-derived" (Mandarin, Cantonese and other non-Min Chinese dialects) is an interesting one, as it reveals the particular Chinese local cultures where non-Chinese nations acquired their tea and "tea cultures". Not surprisingly, India and the Arab world most likely got their tea cultures from the Cantonese or the Southwestern Mandarin speakers, whereas the Russians got theirs from the northern Mandarin speakers. The Portuguese, the first Europeans to import the herb in large amounts, took the Cantonese form "chá", as used in their trading posts in the south of China, especially Macau. Conversely, other Western Europeans who copied the Min articulation "teh" probably traded with the Hokkienese while in Southeast Asia.
Quite recently, no more than 20 years ago, "chai" entered North American English with a particular meaning: Indian masala black tea. Of course this is not the case in other languages, where "chai" usually just means black tea (as people traditionally drink more black tea than green outside of East Asia). English is thus one of the few languages that allow for the dual articulations of "tea" into a "teh-derived" word and a "cha-derived" one, such as Moroccan colloquial Arabic (Darija): in the case of Moroccan Arabic, "ash-shay" means "generic, or black Middle Eastern tea" whereas "atay" means a specialty tea: Zhejiang or Fujian green tea with fresh mint leaves. The Moroccans are said to have acquired a unique penchant in the Arab world for East Chinese green tea after the ruler Mulay Hassan exchanged some European hostages captured by the Barbary Pirates for a whole ship of Chinese tea. They have thus acquired a word for this special tea different from the generic "ash-shay". See Moroccan tea culture
Perhaps the only place in which a word unrelated to tea is used to describe the beverage is South America (particularly Andean countries), because a similar stimulant beverage, yerba mate, was consumed there long before tea arrived.
There are tea ceremonies which have arisen in different cultures, Japan's complex, formal and serene one being one of the most well known. Other examples are the Chinese tea ceremony which uses some traditional ways of brewing tea. One form of Chinese tea ceremony is the Gongfu tea ceremony, which typically uses small Yixing clay teapots and oolong tea.
The American poet Wallace Stevens, a tea-fancier, is credited by Eleanor Cook with a "delicately implicit trope of drinking tea as a metaphor for reading (ingesting a drink from leaves)." See for instance his "Tea".
Most green teas should be allowed to steep for about three minutes, although some types of tea require as much as ten. The strength of the tea should be varied by changing the amount of tea leaves used, not by changing the steeping time. The amount of tea to be used per amount of water differs from tea to tea but one basic recipe may be one slightly heaped teaspoon of tea (about 5 ml) for each teacup of water (200 ml) (8 oz) prepared as above. Stronger teas, such as Assam, to be drunk with milk are often prepared with more leaves, and more delicate high grown teas such as a Darjeeling are prepared with a little less (as the stronger mid-flavors can overwhelm the champagne notes).
The best temperature for brewing tea depends on its type. Teas that have little or no oxidation period, such as a green or white tea, are best brewed at lower temperatures between 60 °C and 85 °C (140-185 °F), while teas with longer oxidation periods should be brewed at higher temperatures around 100 °C (212 °F). The higher temperatures are required to extract the large, complex, flavorful phenolic molecules found in fermented tea, although boiling the water reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water.
Some tea sorts are often brewed several times using the same tea leaves. Historically, in China, tea is divided into a number of infusions. The first infusion is immediately poured out to wash the tea, and then the second and further infusions are drunk. The third through fifth are nearly always considered the best infusions of tea, although different teas open up differently and may require more infusions of hot water to bring them to life.
One way to taste a tea, throughout its entire process, is to add hot water to a cup containing the leaves and after about 30 seconds to taste the tea. As the tea leaves unfold (known as "The Agony of the Leaves") they give up various parts of themselves to the water and thus the taste evolves. Continuing this from the very first flavours to the time beyond which the tea is quite stewed will allow an appreciation of the tea throughout its entire length.
Oolong tea (or Wulong)
Premium or delicate tea
Pu-erh tea (or Pu'er)
The addition of milk to tea was first mentioned in 1680 by the epistolist Madame de Sévigné. Many teas are traditionally drunk with milk. These include Indian masala chai, and British tea blends. These teas tend to be very hearty varieties which can be tasted through the milk, such as Assams, or the East Friesian blend. Milk is thought to neutralize remaining tannins and reduce acidity. The Chinese do not usually drink milk with tea (or indeed use milk at all) but the Manchurians do, and the elite of the Manchu Dynasty continued to do so. Hong Kong-style milk tea is based on British colonial habits.
The order of steps in preparing a cup of tea is a much-debated topic. Some say that it is preferable to add the milk before the tea, as the high temperature of freshly brewed tea can denature the proteins found in fresh milk, similar to the change in taste of UHT milk, resulting in an inferior tasting beverage. Others insist that it is better to add the milk after brewing the tea, as most teas need to be brewed as close to boiling as possible. The addition of milk chills the beverage during the crucial brewing phase, meaning that the delicate flavor of a good tea cannot be fully appreciated. By adding the milk afterwards, it is easier to dissolve sugar in the tea and also to ensure that the desired amount of milk is added, as the color of the tea can be observed.
In Britain and some Commonwealth countries, the order in which the milk and the tea enter the cup is often considered an indicator of social class. Persons of working class background are supposedly more likely to add the milk first and pour the tea in afterwards, whereas persons of middle and upper class backgrounds are more likely to pour the tea in first and then add milk. Many in Britain believe the former to be a continuing practice from a time when porcelain (the only ceramic which could withstand boiling water) was only within the purchasing range of the rich - the less wealthy had access only to poor quality earthenware, which would crack unless milk was added first in order to lower the temperature of the tea as it was poured in.
A 2007 study published in the European Heart Journal found that certain beneficial effects of tea may be lost through the addition of milk.
Other popular additives to tea by the tea-brewer or drinker include sugar, honey, lemon (traditional in Russia and Italy), fruit jams, and mint. In China sweetening tea was traditionally regarded as a feminine practice. In colder regions such as Mongolia, Tibet and Nepal, butter is added to provide necessary calories. Tibetan butter tea contains rock salt and dre (yak) butter, which is then churned vigorously in a cylindrical vessel closely resembling a butter churn. The same may be said for salt tea, which is consumed in some cultures in the Hindu Kush region of northern Pakistan.
Tea can also be fortified by the addition of alcohol, such as whisky or brandy.
The flavor of the tea can also be altered by pouring it from different heights, resulting in varying degrees of oxidization. The art of high-altitude pouring is used principally by people in Northern Africa (e.g. Morocco), but also in West Africa (e.g. Guinea, Mali, Senegal) and can positively alter the flavor of the tea, but it is more likely a technique to cool the beverage destined to be consumed immediately. In certain cultures the tea is given different names depending on the height it is poured form. In Mali, gunpowder tea is served in series of three, starting with the highest oxidization or strongest, unsweetened tea (cooked from fresh leaves), locally referred to as "bitter as death". Follows a second serving, where the same tea leaves are boiled again with some sugar added ("pleasant as life"), and a third one, where the same tea leaves are boiled for the third time with yet more sugar added ("sweet as love"). Green tea is the central ingredient of a distinctly Malian custom, the "Grin", informal social gathering that cuts across social and economic lines, starting in front of family compound gates in the afternoons, extending late in the night, and widely popular in Bamako and other large urban areas.
In Southeast Asia, particularly in Malaysia, the practice of pouring tea from a height has been refined further using black tea to which condensed milk is added, poured from a height from one cup to another several times in alternating fashion and in quick succession, to create a tea with entrapped air bubbles creating a frothy "head" in the cup. This beverage, teh tarik, literally, "pulled tea", has a creamier taste than flat milk tea and is extremely popular in the region. Tea pouring in Malaysia has been further developed into an art form in which a dance is done by people pouring tea from one container to another, which in any case takes skill and precision. The participants, each holding two containers, one full of tea, pour it from one to another. They stand in lines and squares and pour the tea into each others' pots. The dance must be choreographed to allow anyone who has both pots full to empty them and refill whoever has no tea at any one point.
Economics of tea
India is the world's largest tea-drinking nation although the per capita consumption of tea remains a modest 750 grams per person every year.
Organic Tea production
Tea leaves are packed into a small (usually paper) tea bag. It is easy and convenient, making tea bags popular for many people today. However, the tea used in tea bags has an industry name - it is called "fannings" or "dust" and is the waste product produced from the sorting of higher quality loose leaf tea. It is commonly held among tea aficionados that this method provides an inferior taste and experience. The paper used for the bag can also be tasted by many, which can detract from the tea's flavor. Because fannings and dust are a lower quality of the tea to begin with, the tea found in tea bags is less finicky when it comes to brewing time and temperature.
Additional reasons why bag tea is considered less well-flavored include:
* Dried tea loses its flavor quickly on exposure to air. Most bag teas (although not all) contain leaves broken into small pieces; the great surface area to volume ratio of the leaves in tea bags exposes them to more air, and therefore causes them to go stale faster. Loose tea leaves are likely to be in larger pieces, or to be entirely intact.
Pyramid tea bags
When storing green tea, discreet use of refrigeration or freezing is recommended. In particular, drinkers need to take precautions against temperature variation.
Improperly stored tea may lose flavor, acquire disagreeable flavors or odors from other foods, or become moldy.
This webpage was updated 25th August 2009
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