My wife, Karen, and I enjoy drinking tea for many reasons. One reason is they taste wonderful and another reason is they are so healthy for you. It just makes you feel like you have done something very good for yourself after sipping a cup of tea. The Asians seem to have a great respect for tea, they drink it with every meal to aid in digestion. Their respect for tea actually starts before they even drink the tea, it begins with growing the tea in the mountains about 5000 feet above sea level. After that, the plantation pickers get up before sunrise to pick the delicate leaves. From there they go through several more processes before they are ready for market spiritual and religious.
Fermentation: The leaves are kept moist in this process. In this process the temperature must remain between 72-82 degrees. If the temperature is too high the tea will be tainted and too low the fermentation process stops. This warming up and cooling down process can take up to 3 hours. The leaves are dried by firing which being careful not to fire too long or the tea will lose its flavor. If not fired long enough mold will grow.
Withering: The leaves are spread out over straw mats, then stacked on top of each other. Making sure there is enough air circulating so they can dry without mold forming. Pan-Firing: Mostly for green teas, they stir constantly in a wok until dry.
Steaming: This is to prevent oxidation, the leaves are steamed over boiling water. The Japanese use this method for green teas.
Rolling: The tea leaves are rolled into curls, twists, and various shapes which affects the flavor during infusion.
Teas are classified by where it is grown, size, shape and the way it is processed.China is said to be the birth place of tea. According to popular legend the emperor Sh'eng Nung a scholar and herbalist discovered tea by accident. He and servants were spending some time in the countryside of a distant region when a leaf from a wild camellia bush fell into his cup of hot water. The water turned a brownish color, however the aroma of the leaf was so alluring he sipped the mixture of the brew and a new beverage was born. This time was believed to be around 2737 BC. Tea was rare and expensive and considered an art to make the perfect cup of tea. During competitions only the royal families had mastered the skillful techniques and were able to determine who had perfected this art of the most desired beverage.
In India the monk Siddhartha, was on a journey for enlightenment and meditation. He stopped to rest, picked some leaves and started chewing on them. He noticed they made him alert and energized him. He gathered the seeds and returned to India to plant them. India became one the largest growers of tea in the world.
A Japanese monk Dengyo Dashi has discovered tea in China and noticed it kept the monks alert during long periods of meditation. He brought tea into Japan and it was regarded with a whole new respect and took tea to a new level. The Japanese embraced tea with their spiritual ceremonies and beliefs.
Tea then had spread throughout Asia and later made it to Europe by 1559. Tea lovers from all around have one thing in common, they believe tea is the cure for all weaknesses.
Some of the health benefits from various studies show that Tea contains catechins, this is a type of antioxidant and has also shown tea posses antibiotics as well. In an article from New Science Magazine, talks about studies that suggest that green tea protects against a range of cancers including lung, prostate and breast cancer. Studies at the University of Geneva and the University of Birmingham has evidence that green tea raises metabolic rate, speeds up fat oxidation and helps with insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. The amino acid L-theanine is found in the tea plant and especially in green tea boost mental alertness, resulting in calmer, yet more alert state of mind.