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Archive for February, 2009

Tea Types

Black. Green. Oolong. Loose or bagged. Hot or cold. With all the types of tea and different ways to have it, it’s a wonder any of us can choose. Soo many choices…what the hell…I have plenty of time.

Let’s start out slow…

Again, all tea leaves come from the Camellia sinensis. Generally there are four main types of tea:

  • Black
  • Green
  • Oolong (pronounced either “oo” or “wu” and sometimes referred to as Brown tea)
  • White

During the drying phase, some tea leaves are infused with essential oils or dried with fruit  or spices to add extra flavor. 

There are four main countries that produce the world’s tea:

  • India
  • China
  • Kenya
  • Sri Lanka

According to an article by Tetley, a tea company, many other places also produce tea.  

Many people would like to think that herbal teas are tea…but they’re NOT. Herbal teas are made with dried herbs, flowers and even fruit. Most do not have tea in them unless specified so on the box. Sorry for any confusion.

Each individual tea will be discussed in depth in later posts. Keep coming back.

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Bagged v. Loose

This morning I made my morning cup of organic Earl Gray and it occurred to me, I often use bagged tea when I’m in a hurry. Other times I use loose tea.  A question presented itself to me, is there a difference between bagged and loose tea?

The answer  is a resounding YES.

I have been researching this question all morning. I came acrosss this incredible article about exactly this. Loose tea and bagged tea, although both tea, are quite different.

Tea leaves contain oils and chemicals which gives tea flavor. The smaller the tea leaf the less of the chemicals and oils are present. The larger the leaf the more flavor it may have. Bagged is small, loose is big. Simple. Maybe.

Loose tea, indeed, does have a better flavor but it is not for the on-the-go kind of person. The tea has to be measured out, a special tea pot or cup must be used so one does not drink the tea leaves, and then the clean up. It sounds like a pain, but it truly is the best way to get the full flavor of tea. I own a special pot with a strainer that I love to use, but mainly at night when I don’t have to worry about rushing out the door.

For this reason, I prefer my morning tea to be bagged. Tea bag in cup, hot water on top, snap lid on travel mug and out the door. Much easier, but still not the same.

After further research, I found that there are grades of tea. Grades? I thought the same thing. I knew that loose tea was better, but now I understand why. 

The grades of tea vary by size and appearance. It does not necessarily relate to taste. The larger tea leaves are reserved for loose tea, while the remaining pieces are reserved for the infamous tea bag. Many regions that produce tea also have varying grades of tea. This article  gives an entire run down of varying grades of tea.

Whether you prefer loose or bagged tea is really a personal choice. I prefer both, although if I had to choose I would go with the loose. It’s fun to watch the tea leaves rehydrate in water!

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Tea in Time

Tea is nothing new. Legend states, according to World Book, that the use of tea was discovered by Emperor Shennong of China about 2737 B.C. That’s almost 5000 years of tea history! Considering that it would be almost impossible to recount 5000 years of history in a single post, only the most significant events will be recounted. (All info provided is either attributed to a source or is knowledge I have gained throughout my many years in school and as an enthusiastic tea drinker.)

Ancient China

  • The earliest mention of tea in Chinese literature dates back to 350 A.D., according to World Book.

Ancient Japan

  • The Japanese developed the ceremony now known as the Japanese Tea Ceremony.

Tea Comes to Europe

  • By 1610, Dutch traders began importing tea to Europe, according to World Book.
  • Tea was a rich man’s commodity, as the price for tea was so high that only the wealthy could afford such a luxury.

Tea Meets the States (or at least what becomes the states)

  • In 1767, Britain placed a tax on tea that was being shipped to the colonies. By 1773, colonists had enough of British taxes (especially on tea) and held what is now known as the Boston Tea Party. This act added to the independence movement which ultimately led to the American Revolution.

Tea Today

  • Tea has become a symbol of tranquility and gives a sense of peace of mind. Tea is still used in ceremonies but more importantly, it can now be enjoyed by everyone, not just the wealthy. Drink up!

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Tea, either iced or hot, is a deliciously refreshing beverage, second only to water. But what is tea? Camellia sinensis, commonly known as the tea plant, is responsible for quenching so many thirsts. Leaves. Stems. Buds. Twigs. All can be used to make tea. In essence, Camellia sinensis is the “source of all tea.”

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The Art of Tea

Simplici~Tea is a blog dedicated to tea…all things tea! History of tea, types of tea, health benefits, etc. Anything that has to do with tea…look to Simplici~Tea!

OH, my apologies. I’m Jennifer Athey, an avid tea drinker. This is my first blog and my first attempt at getting my nose out of books and getting acquanted with my computer. Apparently there is so much that can be done on this box of bits and bytes. A new adventure…just let me get my cup of tea first!

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