The Accidental History Of Green Tea
Instant Tea Originated in China
During the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD), production and preparation of tea changed throughout China. Even then, people were looking for convenience; a new form of tea emerged as a result of people wanting more and more tea without having to take the time to brew the leaves. The tea leaves were picked and quickly steamed to preserve their color and fresh character. After steaming, the leaves were dried. The finished tea was then ground into fine powders that were whisked in wide bowls. The resulting beverage resembled what we know of today as instant tea—you mixed the tea powder with hot water and voilà! Your tea was ready in an instant.
This tea was highly regarded for its deep emerald or iridescent white appearance and its rejuvenating and healthy energy. This style of tea preparation, using powdered tea and ceramic ware, became known as the Song tea ceremony. Although it later became extinct in China, this Song style of tea evolved into what is now the Japanese tea ceremony that endures still today. Today, there are between 12,500 and 20,000 green teas produced in China alone (although they are named and renamed so many times—for no apparent reason—that no one knows exactly how many there are). It is similar to wine in that respect. There are thousands of vineyards that produce wines; not all of them make it to market, or are meant to do so. It’s the same with tea in China.
There are thousands of individual tea plantations and each produces its own variety of tea. Some are meant only for an individual farmer’s consumption; others may be distributed in a local area; and still others are grown for the commercial market and shipped worldwide. As with white tea, the bud and leaves for green tea are picked, cleaned, and dried. The tea leaves then undergo a minimal amount of oxidation. Green tea has very low levels of caffeine, and derives its distinctive, healthy good flavor
from the area in which it is grown and the techniques used to produce the tea.
The processing sequence for green tea is:
1. Leaves and buds are harvested.
2. Leaves and buds are cleaned.
3. Leaves and buds are dried.
4. In Japan, the leaves are steamed, which stops any fermentation.
5. In China, the leaves are placed in very hot woks to stop any fermentation.
6. The tea is then rolled, cut, ground, or shaped into a form uniquely associated with the plantation on which it is grown.
Dragon’s Well is the most famous of Chinese green teas
It grows on the peaks of the Tieh Mu (t’yeh MOO) mountain range. Chinese mythology tells us that the dragon is the king of the waters. History tells us that in 250 AD, there was a drought at the Dragon’s Well monastery. A monk prayed to the dragon, pleading for rain. His prayers were immediately answered, and the tea produced there received its name.
The History Of Oolong Tea – The Champagne of teas
Oolong tea, referred to as the Champagne of teas, is a semioxidized whole-leaf tea, which retains all of the nutrients and natural healing factors contained in unfermented green tea, but without the raw, grassy taste. It falls somewhere between green and black tea, with complex flavor and aroma. The leaves go through a very brief fermentation process, which eliminates harsh irritants from the raw tea and creates the subtle fragrances and flavors that distinguish this tea from all other varieties.
Oolong legend tells us Wu Liang (who lived during the Ming Dynasty in China, around 1400 AD), a tea farmer, went out one day to pick tea, as he did every day in the tea-picking season. He had collected quite a bit when his eye was caught by a deer drinking by the river. He stopped his tea-picking activities and killed the poor animal (sorry to have to report this!). He took the slain deer home, as it would provide him with a week’s worth of meals. He forgot all about his tea. When he went back to collect his load, he found that the tea had started to blacken. We know today, it had begun to oxidize.
Wu Liang thought that it might have gone bad, but decided to proceed with his traditional preparations. He dried the tea by pan-firing, as was done with the green teas of the day. When he made a cup of this tea, he was surprised to find that it tasted different than his usual green tea, and discovered that he loved the flavor. He taught his neighbors and friends how to make the new tea, and it came to be named after him. Language being what it is, the name eventually evolved from Wu Liang to Oolong. The processing sequence for oolong tea is:
1. Leaves and buds are harvested.
2. Leaves and buds are cleaned.
3. Leaves and buds are placed in bamboo containers and air is blown through them. This process is referred to as “withering the leaves.”
4. The withered leaves are rolled, which releases the oils within the leaf. These oils mix with the oxygen in the air and the leaves begin to ferment or oxidize.
5. When the rolled leaves reach a dark blue-green color, they are placed into a hot wok to stop the fermentation process and add flavor.
Hope you enjoyed reading this. Please share and add your comments and continue sipping that magical elixir that promotes great looking skin, complexion and ensures longevity and eradication of toxins from your body. Oh Green tea also improves your mood and does wonders for your energy levels throughout the day. I don’t know how I would carry on throughout the day without my green tea. Make it a practice to always carry your favorite oolong or green tea sachets and leaves along with you wherever you go be it for meetings in the city or longer vacations thus ensuring that you are never more than an arm’s length away from your favorite flavor in spite of the surroundings!
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Dr. Sunita Banerji received her MBBS degree from The Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, one of India’s leading Medical Institutes and received her DGO credentials in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1982. She started her successful Aesthetic Medicine practice in Lokhandwala, in 1989 after undergoing extensive training in London. She was far ahead of her time in starting this type of practice in India. Eternesse – the Best Obesity Treatment Specialist in Mumbai - her brainchild helps treat major medical problems related to lifestyle, aging and cosmetic treatments and surgery.
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