tea 101, tea, green tea, camellia sinensis
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Tea 101


This is tea; scientifically known as Camellia sinensisAll true tea comes from one plant; Camellia sinensis.  (Other beverages referred to as teas are actually tisanes or herbal infusions and discussed elsewhere.) 

Tea by definition is:

  • the dried and prepared leaves of a shrub, Camellia sinensis, from which an aromatic beverage is prepared by infusion in hot water.
  • the shrub itself, extensively cultivated in China, Japan, India, etc., and having fragrant white flowers.
  • the beverage so prepared, served hot or iced.
  • British. any meal, whether a light snack or one consisting of several courses, eaten in the late afternoon or in the evening; any meal other than dinner, eaten after the middle of the afternoon.
  • an afternoon reception at which tea is served.

Camellia sinensis is:

  • a tropical evergreen shrub or small tree extensively cultivated in e.g. China and Japan and India; source of tea leaves; "tea has fragrant white flowers"


 CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO: Tea 101 with Dr. Tea


ANOTHER GREAT TEA 101 VIDEO from Samovar Tea:


White, green, oolong, and black teas are all created from one plant; Camellia sinensis.  There is also another tea, pu-erh that you will learn about later.  The most important thing to know is that there are not multiple plants for each of these types of teas.  They all come from the same tea bush.  Picture someone plucking the tea leaves off the bush.  Then certain things happen to those leaves to bring the tea leaves to the final stage of white, green, oolong, or black.

The processes include steps such as withering, crushing, oxidation, and a drying process.  Withering decreases the moisture content of the tea leaves and results in a more pliable, withered leaf, ready for the next step in processing which may include rolling or crushing to release the enzymes to prepare for oxidation.  When exposed to air, the juices of the crushed leaves turn the tea particles to brown.  The amount of time exposed to the air - called oxidation - determines the final tea product.  Black tea is the most oxidized; oolong is oxidized for less time.  Oxidation is similar to watching a slice of apple brown when exposed to air.  After the appropriate amount of time oxidizing, the tea leaves are sent through a drying process to stop oxidation and prepare the final tea product for packaging.

The entire process is quite impressive and nicely demonstrated in a video from the Charleston Tea Plantation at their Wadmalaw Island facility in South Carolina, USA.  See TeaCourse: American Classic Tea

As you will see in Dr. Tea's video (above), tea can be enjoyed and should be enjoyed to your own personal preference.  If you ask someone what is the best tea - it will be the best tea for their taste buds.  If you ask someone how to steep the tea and for how long, it will be to their personal preference.  Try different teas and discover what you enjoy.  If you are a business owner, carry a variety of teas (more on that in a later topic.)

Through your Tea Course journey, you will learn preferred steeping methods for tea and the best temperatures for steeping specific types of teas.  For example a delicate white tea should be treated delicately and will require a lower temperature water and varied brewing time.

You will also learn how differently tea is handled to result in full leaf - loose teas, or smaller particles of tea for tea bags.

This Tea 101 page is a very simple introduction to tea and may seem a little vague to those in the tea industry, but when you experience more upon your Tea Course journey, you will learn how very different teas are treated in China, Japan, etc.  You will learn more about what regions of the world tea is grown.  You will learn why there are thousands of names for various teas - this can be so confusing when you now know all tea comes from one plant.  Why so many different names? . . .

As defined above - the word tea means much more than the plant it is derived from or the beverage we enjoy so much.  Tea is also rich with tradition.  The best known tradition to Americans is the English tradition of Afternoon Tea.  But, tea is rich with ceremony and traditions from China, Japan, and elsewhere.

Log in to Tea Course on a regular basis to learn more.  Read the communications forum and blog entries.  Read member webpages and watch for updates, audio or visual presentations and more - all to enrich your life or business through tea!

Be sure to watch the Tea Course Calendar for other - in person - tea events as well. 

Enjoy your Global Tea Journey!


Tea definition reference:  Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.


Photo credit: www.charlestonteaplantation.com


Video credits:  Dr. Tea www.teagarden.com and Samovar Tea www.samovartea.com





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tea 101, tea, green tea, camellia sinensis
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