Many of us drink often tea, or something that we like to call tea, and have almost no knowledge about tea at all.
Tea is an aromatic drink prepared by pouring hot or boiling water over cured leaves of the tea plant. There are many teas around that we call tea but isn’t tea (because no tea leaves were used). Just like apple wine isn’t wine because it is not made of grapes or white chocolate isn’t chocolate because it doesn’t contain cacao.
Tea has its origin in South west China, where it was used as a medicinal drink. It became popular as a recreational drink during the Chinese Tang dynasty, and tea drinking spread to other East Asian countries. Portuguese priests and merchants brought it to Europe during the 16th century.
There are different kinds of tea.
Green tea is a type of tea that is made from Camellia sinensis leaves that have not undergone the same withering and oxidation process used to make oolong and black tea. Green tea originated in China, but its production has spread to many countries in Asia.
Black tea is a type of tea that is more oxidized than oolong, green and white teas. Black tea is generally stronger in flavour than the less oxidized teas. All four types are made from leaves of the shrub (or small tree) Camellia sinensis.
White tea may refer to one of several styles of tea which generally feature young or minimally processed leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.
Oolong is a traditional Chinese tea (Camellia sinensis) produced through a unique process including withering the plant under strong sun and oxidation before curling and twisting. Most oolong teas, especially those of fine quality, involve unique tea plant cultivars that are exclusively used for particular varieties. The degree of oxidation can range from 8 to 85%, depending on the variety and production style. Oolong is especially popular with tea connoisseurs of south China and Chinese expatriates in Southeast Asia, as is the Fujian preparation process known as the Gongfu tea ceremony.
Rooibos (meaning “red bush”) is a broom-like member of the Fabaceae family of plants growing in South Africa’s fynbos. he leaves are used to make an herbal tea called rooibos or bush tea (especially in Southern Africa) or sometimes redbush tea (especially in Great Britain). The product has been popular in Southern Africa for generations and is now consumed in many countries. It is sometimes spelled rooibosch in accordance with the old Dutch etymology. So by definition it is not a real tea. As a fresh leaf, rooibos has a high content of vitamin C. Rooibos tea does not contain caffeine and has low tannin levels compared to black tea or green tea
Tea can be stored for a very long time without losing its quality (when stored in a right way: air-tight, dry and not in direct sunlight). Although some tea can be stored more than a year, replaces Rob once per 6 or 8 months the teas he has. And today he did that. The whole room is filled up with the wonderful scent of tea, herbs, spices and fruits.
So now we have the next teas here at Rob’s house:
“Greek Mountain Tea”, also known as Sideritis thee or Ironwort and comes from Florina (West Macedonia, main land of Greece). The tea is made from the dried leaves and flowers of the plant Sideritis. This plant with its velvety, greyish leaves and yellow flowers grows to about 45 centimetres high. The tea is rich on iron and antioxidants and it is said that the Greek mountain tea is good for digestion and is anti-inflammatory.
Mel is always kind enough to send us this tea (among other Greek products) directly from Greece.
The other teas are bought at a Dutch webshop and are a good collections of green, black and white teas, all with their own combination with herbs, spices, flowers and fruits.
We always drink our tea with honey and if you have tea of a very good quality, you also want honey of a high quality. We always use thyme honey. Greece is known for it very fine honey. And yes, thanks to Mel we are never without honey .
Honey contains antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agents. Besides honing contains many valuable nutrients-including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Honey is used for centuries as treatment of a sore throat. And of course honey is already used for ages as Outside the product served honing earlier usefull as sweetener.
And oh, before I forget, the title of this article is taken from “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams, the book that Rob likes so very much.
(Credit photo’s: Marion)