Dive into the world of tea with this beginner's guide!

Dive into the world of tea with this beginner's guide!

For over five millennia, tea has been enjoyed by people. Originating in China, it is now one of the most widely consumed beverages globally, only behind coffee.

Origin of Tea

Tea, once celebrated for its detoxifying prowess, was typically munched on rather than sipped. Legend has it that tea's big break came when some leaves took a dive into a pot of water that Emperor Shen Nong's crew had just purified. This serendipitous brew charmed the emperor, a botanical whiz, and voilà, the tea-drinking craze was born.

Tea Leaves are the same, but not the same 

Teas come in a delightful variety such as black, oolong, green, and white, all hailing from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. It's the post-harvest spa treatment they receive that gives them their unique personalities.

Every tea leaf embarks on a journey of transformation, experiencing the tender care of withering, the thrill of rolling, and the warmth of heating. The secret to their distinct flavors and styles? It's all in the artful dance of steps they take before hitting the shelves.

  • Black - the most common type consumed globally (about 84% of totals), undergoes significant processing. This processing involves fermentation until the leaves turn black, followed by drying and packaging.
  • Oolong- mirrors the black tea process, with shorter individual stages.
  • Green- no fermentation involved - just steamed or pan fried!
  • White- the least processed of the four. Picked earlier in the season and made from younger leaves, white tea leaves are typically only left to dry briefly in the sun before being packaged.

Brew temp matters too, and overboiling should be avoided. 

Tea VS Tisane

After discovering the limited types, you might question the existence of others you know, such as peppermint or rooibos.

Forget calling them teas, these herbal beverages are actually called tisane made from nuts, seeds, berries, flowers, leaves, or roots. Mint and lavender can join the party too, creating a delightful brew often mistaken for 'tea.'

You can also mix them both, whipping up tasty tea blends with your favorite herbs and spices, like adding fruit to cold tea or cardamom to your homemade chai.

Green Tea Benefits

Green tea contains compounds like flavonoids and catechins that can potentially provide antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, and anticancer properties. It has also demonstrated possible benefits in weight loss, tooth decay prevention, and depression relief. The absence of fermentation in green tea leaves preserves the maximum beneficial compounds.

Lose the Tea Bag!

The teabag was invented in the United States in the early 20th century.

For tea aficionados, teabags are like putting a leash on a wild animal – they just don't let the leaves live up to their full potential. These little pouches of convenience might stop the leaves from going on a flavor rampage in your cup, but they also keep them from throwing the tea party they're capable of.

Crafted from the finest filter paper or the silkiest of silks, teabags have managed to make tea the talk of the town, far more than if they had never steeped onto the scene.

Teabags typically are used instead of infusers due to the neatness department, keeping those pesky leaves from staging a coup in your cup. Plus, you can chuck them post-brew, dodging the dreaded infuser cleanup operation.

Sure, the tea purists might turn up their noses, but teabags have steeped their way into the market and aren't going anywhere – they're the unsung heroes of hurried mornings and office tea breaks. But we still prefer our infusers.

Now, let's spill the tea on our top storage tips.

Loose-leaf tea is not only a treat for your taste buds but also a friend to the environment. However, it does come with a 'handle with care' tag.

To ensure your loose-leaf tea remains as fresh as the day it was picked, just stick to this straightforward storage instructions. Treat it right, and your tea will be your loyal companion for years to come.

Stick to the rules, and you'll sip your tea at its flavorful peak before it turns into a tasteless leaf juice.

Oxidation is like a tea's mid-life crisis; it's when the leaves get all existential and change their flavor after mingling with the air. It's a leisurely journey to flavor town, taking its sweet time.

Some teas are the eternal youths of the tea world, never touched by the harsh reality of oxidation, keeping their flavors fresh and zesty. Think of green tea, yellow tea, and white tea as the Peter Pans of the group, forever young and sprightly.

Now, storing these Peter Pan teas is like defusing a flavor bomb – one wrong move and boom, you're in bitterville. They'll go from delicate to downright disagreeable.

Oxidation turns tea leaves into the strong, silent types, like the brooding hero in a novel. They get darker, more intense, and a bit mysterious.

Black tea is the poster child for the oxidized bunch, while Oolong plays the cool uncle who's seen the world and picked up a robust character along the way.

Oxidized tea packs a bitter punch compared to its unoxidized counterpart, making black tea the perfect candidate for a splash of milk and a spoonful of sugar. It's like giving a strong-willed tea a little bit of sweetness to mellow its mood. And while black tea might hide its extra oxidation under a cloak of darkness, it's still wise to store your tea properly to keep it from going over to the dark side.

Seal it up tight!

To keep your tea in tip-top shape, think of it like a superhero needing a fortress of solitude. Airtight containers are the Batcaves for your tea leaves, keeping them fresh and ready for action. Vacuum sealing? Great for the robust types, but for the more sensitive leaves, it's like a bear hug from Hulk – too much love. Iron salt packets are the sidekicks for long-term freshness, but don't call them into action for short stints.

Staying cool

Keep your teas chilled, literally. Warmth is their kryptonite, speeding up their aging faster than a time machine. Those delicate white and green teas? They prefer the cool confines of your fridge or freezer. Just make sure they're not sitting in a sauna of moisture when they come out.

And remember, patience is a virtue. Let them acclimate to room temp before you tear into them like it's Christmas morning. But hey, if you've got your everyday, run-of-the-mill teas, just park them in a cool cupboard, far from the evil clutches of radiators and ovens. They'll be just fine.

Keep Tea Away From Light

Light is the nemesis of tea leaves, transforming them into a bitter brew. Tea connoisseurs are on a quest to uncover the mystery of light's impact on their beloved leaves, but one thing's for sure – it's a flavor foe to be thwarted.

Pungent Smells

Like a sponge, tea leaves soak up the scents around them. That's why jasmine tea is all flowery – it's been hanging out with jasmine blossoms.

But beware, if tea leaves rub shoulders with any stinky intruders, they'll snatch up that smell faster than a cookie crumbles.

To shield your tea from taste terrorists, enlist the help of wooden chests, airtight tin soldiers, or plastic guardians. They're the superheroes keeping your tea's taste true.

So remember, keep your tea far from the foul funk – unless you fancy a cup of eau de garbage.

Keep Tea Away From Moisture

To keep your tea from turning into a flavorless leafy disappointment, stash it in a spot as dry as a comedian's wit. Make sure that container is clamped down tighter than a duck's feathers in a rainstorm—tea's got a thirst for moisture that'll ruin its mojo.

Remember, tea's a bit of a hoarder—it likes company. So, pack those leaves in like sardines at a concert. The fuller the tin, the less room for air to throw a party and invite all those funky smells. Give that container a good shake, like you're mixing a maraca, to let those leaves settle in snugly. There you have it, tea storage that's as secure as a bear's honey stash!

In conclusion:

  • Seal your tea in a vault-like container to keep those pesky bacteria at bay and the moisture locked in.
  • Dodge the sunbeams like a ninja—no light shall touch the sacred leaves!
  • Keep it away from anything that smells stronger than a flower's whisper.
  • Find the chilliest, driest nook for your tea sanctuary. Give your posh teas a cold spa day in the fridge to keep their flavors from fleeing.
  • And remember, when it comes to tea, think warehouse, not cupboard—bulk is beautiful!

Try one of our many tea blends available here

The world of tea is vast and varied, with a flavor for every palate, even if it doesn't instantly brew up an interest. It's a journey of taste that awaits, so why not dive in? Steep, serve, and savor the experience. And remember, I'm all ears for your top picks in the tea-tattle section below!


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