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is a beverage made by steeping processed leaves, buds, or twigs of the tea bush, Camellia sinensis, in hot water for a few minutes. The processing can include oxidation, heating, drying, and the addition of other herbs, flowers, spices, and fruits. The four basic types of true tea are (in order from most to least processed): black tea, oolong tea, green tea, and white tea. These categories refer to how much a tea is fermented, or oxidized. Similar to the way leaves turn brown in autumn, oxygen changes the properties of the tealeaves. By selectively exposing the tea leaves to air, tea-farmers and artisans can bring out certain flavors and aromas. In other words, this oxidation process will determine whether the tea will end up as White, Green, Oolong or Black. All true tea comes from the same plant, called the Camellia sinensis. Camellia sinensis is an evergreen plant and grows in tropical to sub-tropical climates. Any leaf that comes from a different plant is considered an herbal tea or tisane. For example, chamomile flowers and peppermint leaves are considered herbal teas because they do not come from the traditional tea plant. It is important to distinguish between real tea and herbal tea since the flavor, health benefits and nutritional characteristics vary from plant to plant.

Generally speaking, the less a tea is oxidized, the lighter it will be in both taste and aroma. Heavily oxidized teas will yield a dark, rich, reddish-brown infusion while less oxidized teas will yield a light, yellow-green liquor. The richness of colour also depends on the length of time the tea is brewed (Brew the perfect tea) and the packaging of the tea.

Heart Benefits:
Study finds tea drinkers have lower blood pressure (Archives of Internal Medicine, 2004)
Tea may lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease (Journal of Nutrition, 2003)
Black tea may lower “bad” cholesterol (United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, 2003)
Tea consumption may help heart disease patients (Circulation: The Journal of the American Heart Association, 2001). Cancer

Green tea could help stem esophageal cancer. (Harvard Medical School, 2004)
Green and black tea can slow down the spread of prostate cancer (Center for Human Nutrition at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, 2004)
Tea may protect against cancer caused by smoking. (Journal of Nutrition, 2003)
Green tea and white tea fight colon cancer (Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University study, Carcinogenesis, 2003)
Hot tea may lower risk of some skin cancers (University of Arizona study, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention (Vol. 9, No. 7), 2001)
Green tea consumption may lower stomach cancer risk (University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Public Health study, International Journal of Cancer (Vol. 92: 600-604), 2001)

Hypertension-Reducing Benefits:
Green and oolong teas reduce risk of hypertension (National Cheng Kung University study, Archives of Internal Medicine, 2004).

Immunity-Boosting Benefits:
Tea believed to boost the body’s defenses (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2003)

Leukemia-Fighting Benefits:

A green tea component helps kill leukemia cells (Mayo Clinic, 2004)

Alzheimer’s-Fighting Benefits:

Drinking tea might delay Alzheimer's Disease (Newcastle University's Medicinal Plant Research Centre study, Phytotherapy Research, 2004)

AIDS-Fighting Benefits:
Tea may play a role as an AIDS fighter (University of Tokyo, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2003)

Unoxidized     Fully Oxidized
White Green Oolong Black
Black Tea
Black Tea is the most widely known variety in the west. Because of its deep, red-colored infusion.
Black Tea comes from tea leaves that have been withered, rolled, oxidized and dried. During rolling, the membranes of the leaves are broken, releasing enzymes and essential oils that interact with air and cause oxidation. Oxygen changes the leaf's properties and accounts for the darker colors and strong rich flavors characteristic of black teas. Essentially, it is this oxidation, process that makes Black Tea different from Green Tea.

Black Teas are often divided into broken-leaf and full-leaf categories. Broken leaf teas tend to be more brisk and higher in caffeine, making them an excellent morning tea to be paired with milk and sugar. Full-leaf teas, on the other hand, tend to be more refined and gentler on the palate.

Chai tea
Chai tea is quickly becoming extremely popular in the West as people are becoming exposed to it as lattes in coffee and tea houses. Chai tea is a rich and complex beverage that has been savored for centuries in many parts of the world, especially India. In its most basic form, chai is black tea that is brewed strong with a combination of spices and is diluted with milk and sugar. The spices vary from recipe to recipe, but usually consist of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, pepper and ginger. Chai tea is traditionally consumed hot and sweet. The sweetness is needed to bring out the full flavors of the spices.

How to make Chai
Here is a simple recipe to make chai yourself at home. This is what you will need:
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 inch stick of cinnamon
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1/4 inch fresh ginger root (sliced thin)
  • 2/3 cup of milk
  • 6 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons of Darjeeling Tea

Place water, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger in a pot and bring to a boil.
Cover and lower heat to low setting and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add milk and sugar and again bring to simmer.
Next, add the tea leaves, remove from heat and cover.
Let steep for 3 minutes and strain. Enjoy!

Oolong Tea
Oolong Teas (pronounced Wu-Long) are semi-fermented and express characteristics in-between Green and Black Teas. The leaves are usually brownish in color, large in appearance and produce a very aromatic brew. Due to their smooth, complex flavors, Oolong Teas are often a favorite among connoisseurs.

Classic Oolong Teas are cultivated in Southeastern China and the island of Taiwan. Often, different tea estates have their preferred ways of making Oolong Tea.

Research conducted in Japan, China and Taiwan reports that regular consumption of Oolong Tea is linked to the reduction of cholesterol and the lowering of blood sugar. Oolong Tea ’ s ability to aid weight-loss and its reputation as a safe, daily slimming and dieter's tea in Asia has been widespread for hundreds of years.

Green Tea
Green Tea is one of the fastest-growing segments of the US specialty tea market. Green Tea comes from leaves that are immediately steamed or fired to halt the active leaf enzymes that would otherwise react with oxygen. In China, this is generally done by roasting or pan-firing the leaves; in Japan, this is usually accomplished by steaming the leaves at a high temperature.

The Chinese style of processing tends to bring out a smooth, aromatic flavor while the steaming process yields a deep vegetal or herbaceous quality a characteristic prized in Japanese teas. The traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony uses Matcha (a stone-ground, powdered Green Tea) which has an emerald-green, frothy infusion and intense, grassy flavor.

Due to minimal processing, Green Tea retains high levels of the plant's natural, healthy properties. The flavor of Green Tea varies dramatically; Some are smooth and floral, while others are sweet and grassy. Cultural and personal preferences determine which flavor-notes an individual prefers. You will probably find your taste preferences expanding the more you drink tea. With such an enormous spectrum, there is a Green Tea that is right for each person.
White Tea
White Tea, the rarest and least processed of all teas, is traditionally harvested by hand only a few days each year. Because White Tea undergoes virtually no processing and is made from the tender, nutrient-rich bud from the tip of the plant, White Tea is considered the healthiest of all teas. Named for the silver-white down that covers each delicate leaf, White Tea brews a pale, yellow color and has a sweet, gentle, honey or nectar-like flavor.

White Tea were rated one of the hottest products on the US tea market and show no signs of slowing down due to the continued media attention highlighting their anti-cancer potential. White Tea is revered for its detoxifying and anti-aging properties and is reported to have the highest antioxidant level and lowest caffeine content of all true teas. White Tea is the highest dietary source of the amino acid L-Theanine, which is known to improve mood, reduce anxiety and lower blood pressure.

White Tea is very forgiving when brewed, its delicate, smooth flavor and ability to blend well with other ingredients make it an ideal choice for someone new to the world-of-tea.
Herbal Tea
As mentioned earlier, all true tea comes from the same plant, called the Camellia sinensis. Any leaf that comes from a different plant is considered an herbal tea or tisane. For example, Chamomile flowers, peppermint leaves, Yerba Mat and Rooibos are considered herbal teas because they do not come from the traditional tea plant. Herbal teas are usually 100% caffeine-free and offer a spectrum of health benefits.

Rooibos/Red Tea
Rooibos is also called Red Tea because of its vibrant, ruby-red color. Rooibos consists of tiny, flat leaves and has a sweet, full-bodied flavor without a trace of bitterness. Rich in antioxidants and health-promoting properties, Rooibos has many of the same health-promoting properties as Green Tea, but is 100% caffeine-free, making it an excellent choice for evening or for people with caffeine-sensitivities.

Rooibos grows in a small area 100 miles north of Cape Town, South Africa with no alternative source available anywhere in the world. It is no surprise that such a remarkable, healthy drink comes from this region, with one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world.

Rooibos is prized for its great flavor and health-beneficial antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. In fact, scientific studies suggest that Rooibos contains some of the highest known levels of anti-aging properties of any plant on earth! Like Green Tea, the potent antioxidants in Rooibos are believed to fight aging, cancer and heart disease, support the immune system and improve overall health. Rooibos is also recommended for allergies, headaches, anxiety or insomnia.

Chamomile is an aromatic perennial flower, producing feathery leaves and white, daisy-like flower heads with yellow centers. With a bright, clean golden-colored infusion Chamomile has a fragrance reminiscent of honey, fruit blossoms and apples and is often taken with honey and lemon.

Chamomile has been prized for thousands of years for its therapeutic effects. In fact, Chamomile was dedicated to the ancient Egyptian gods for its ability to calm the mind and comfort the senses. Hieroglyphic records show that Egyptian noblewomen drank chamomile and used preparations of crushed Chamomile petals on their skin. Today, Chamomile is used as a nurturing herbal tea ideal for countering PMS, easing stress and anxiety, relieving headaches or enhancing a peaceful night's sleep. Chamomile is also known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties as well as acting as a digestive stimulant, muscle relaxant and sedative. Chamomile may be a beneficial treatment for arthritis and is even used in lotions and cosmetics for its soothing, anti-allergic properties on the skin.

TIP: chamomile tea is not just for sipping! To sooth skin irritations, mild rashes, menstrual pains, or sunburn, draw a relaxing, fragrant, chamomile bath. Simmer 4 tablespoons of chamomile in 2 cups of water for 20-30 minutes and add to directly to bathwater. Or make a cold chamomile compress by simmering 2 tablespoons of chamomile in 1 cup of water for 20-30 minutes. Refrigerate. When cool, soak a cloth in the brew and apply to affected area.

Yerba Mate
Yerba Mat is indigenous to the subtropical rainforests of Paragua, Argentina and Brazil. Mat is gaining popularity in the United States for its robust antioxidant content and for its natural ability to boost energy, improve mood and aid weight-loss.

An infusion brewed from the dried leaves and stems of the tree, Mat has a robust, earthy flavor that provides energy and delivers natural antioxidants as well as a wide spectrum of healthy vitamins and minerals. This stimulating herbal tea has the ability to energize without the nervousness and jitters associated with coffee. Unlike other herbal teas, Mat contains a substance similar to caffeine which is known as "Matteine." It is responsible for Yerba Mat's uplifting energy and should not be consumed by those who avoid caffeine.

Deemed "The Drink of the Gods" by many indigenous groups in South America, Mat is consumed widely in South America (6 to 1 over coffee) and has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy.
Tea Packaging

Regular tea bag
Tea leaves are packed into a small (usually paper) tea bag. It is easy and convenient, making tea bags popular for many people today. However, the tea used in tea bags has an industry name - it is called "fannings" or "dust" and is the waste product produced from the sorting of higher quality loose leaf tea. It is commonly held among tea aficionados that this method provides an inferior taste and experience. The paper used for the bag can also be tasted by many, which can detract from the tea's flavor. Because fannings and dust are a lower quality of the tea to begin with, the tea found in tea bags is less finicky when it comes to brewing time and temperature.

Additional reasons why bag tea is considered less well-flavored include:

  • Dried tea loses its flavour quickly on exposure to air. Most bag teas (although not all) contain leaves broken into small pieces; the great surface area to volume ratio of the leaves in tea bags exposes them to more air, and therefore causes them to go stale faster. Loose tea leaves are likely to be in larger pieces, or to be entirely intact.
  • Breaking up the leaves for bags extracts flavoured oils.
The small size of the bag does not allow leaves to diffuse and steep properly.

Pyramid tea bag
The "pyramid tea bag" has an unusual design that addresses two of connoisseurs' arguments against paper tea bags. Its three-dimensional, pyramidal shape allows more room for tea leaves to expand while steeping, and because the bags are made of nylon mesh, they do not leave flavours (such as paper) in the tea. These characteristics let the delicate flavors of gourmet selections (such as white teas) shine through; however, the bags have been criticized as being environmentally unfriendly, since the synthetic material does not break down in landfills as loose tea leaves and paper tea bags do.

Loose-leaf tea

The tea leaves are packaged loosely in a canister or other container. Rolled gunpowder tea leaves, which resist crumbling, are commonly vacuum packed for freshness in aluminized packaging for storage and retail. The portions must be individually measured by the consumer for use in a cup, mug, or teapot. This allows greater flexibility, letting the consumer brew weaker or stronger tea as desired, but convenience is sacrificed. Strainers, "tea presses", filtered teapots, and infusion bags are available commercially to avoid having to drink the floating loose leaves and to prevent over-brewing. Products such as our Samovar and DamAvar have built-in filters within the teapot.

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