Two for Tea

| 4/19/2017 10:23:00 AM

Country MoonTea has been the go-to drink for many cultures for many years. Those of English descent are famous for their afternoon tea, which has wrapped a social tradition around a beverage. Tea is also known as a calming, comforting drink. Most problems, when paired with a cup of tea, seem easier to tackle. In summer, what is better than a cold glass of iced tea?

I have been a tea drinker for most of my life. As a senior in high school, I went on a self-proclaimed “tea diet.” I did lose my 20 pounds and thought that it was my sheer willpower. However, now I know that the tea was a major factor, as it has since been proven that green tea can be a great partner in weight loss.

Even growing up a farm girl, I had no idea how tea was grown or processed or even how the different varieties were derived. There were some interesting results when I finally looked.

The formal definition of tea is “an aromatic beverage which is prepared by pouring boiling water over leaves.” After water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. Although green, black, oolong, white, and Pu-erh are the five main varieties, they all come from the same warm-weather shrub native to Asia. It has been a cultivar in China for at least 1500 years, and, although a typical bush produces around 3000 leaves, the top few leaves and the bud are the only ones used.

Tea is tea, with all varieties originating from one plant. What differentiates those different varieties is the type of processing. Even with modern technology, all tea is still harvested by hand so as to not harm the tender leaves. The same plants are harvested over and over, as many times per year as the plant vegetates, or produces more leaves. In areas where the climate is virtually summer all year long, tea is harvested all year.

Processing starts within the hour of harvest. First, the leaves are withered by being lain on wire mesh, where they stay for hours. After they've dried for the appropriate amount of time, they are ready for curling, which is done with a special roller. This process presses and turns over the leaves with the purpose of leaf cell deformation to release the enzymes that enrich the future tea with unique aromas,

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