Tea is known by everybody, but not everybody knows how healthy and also how tasty a good tea can be. After water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. In the Asian world the hot extractive water is even more popular and more important than in the western world.
What most western people don’t know is that the original Tea is made basically of the Camella Sinensis plant. Today the word Tea is also used for extractions of other plants, leaves, herbs, spicery and additional natural things. So there are thousands of different variants and herb combinations, but you can find at least 6 greater varieties of the original tea: green, white, yellow, black, pu-erh and oolong tea. Some of these may seem strange to you, but the oolong tea for example is the tea mostly served in the general Chinese restaurant.
As already said, Tea has a whole other position in the western world compared to the Asian world. In the West, most tea comes in bags that you put into your cup. After waiting a short time you’ll throw the tea bag away and the tea is ready. As this tea can also be good, it’s not comparable with a really good handmade Asian style tea. This tea isn’t made of tea bags. You got a pot with the herbs and leaves in it and the water comes in an outer pot. The first one ore two teas made of the same plants are generally thrown away, because the tea becomes better with more extraction runs. Unlike the tea from tea bags, you’ll taste a real aroma. So it’s no surprise that tea houses, restaurant solely for the purpose of drinking tea are wide spread in the East.
There is a popular Chinese legend about the legendary Emperor of China, Shennong who was also said to be the inventor of agriculture and Chinese medicine. When he was drinking a bowl of hot water around 2737 BC a few leaves were blown into his water. After that, the water changed its color and made Shennong curious. When he sipped from the brew he was surprised by the aroma and taste.
Whether there is a true basis of this and other legends or not, it shows that tea is known in Asia at least for a very long time if you compare it to Europe etc. So the first record of tea in a more occidental writing is found in the text of an Arabian traveler around the year 879, who reported about the trading in Canton (Guangzhou), the capital of the Chinese province Guangdong.
From then, there were many travelers who mentioned tea, but it seemed no one of them brought any samples home. So it took until the early 17th century, when a ship of the Dutch East Indian Company brought some green tea leaves to Amsterdam. Around the same time, the Russian Czar Michael I was offered tea as a gift from China. Although it took some time, this were the roots of tea spreading all over the world.
Today there are many sorts of tea, especially a lot of tea varieties not from the original tea plant. Variants from the south American natives, as they developed without the influence of the Asian tea, are very interesting: For example the Stevia tea, which is made of the really sweet Stevia Rebaudiana plant.
You see, that there are so many of different types of tea, it’s up to you to try something new…