The Wonderful World of Tea: Part 1 // Love Lessons

Hello sisters! Welcome to the start of term at this very special corner of the Sunray Sister blog which I have called Love Lessons. Please read the introduction to get a taste for what’s to come and why I’ve started this new series.

For now, are you all ready to learn, with open minds and blank pages? Then we can embark upon our first topic:

The Wonderful World of Tea

 

Where does tea come from?

All tea comes from the plant Camellia Sinensis (a rough example is shown in my illustration!) This mostly grows in Asia, and was first used to make tea in China thousands of years ago. Ancient stories say it was discovered by accident when a leaf from the tea tree fell into the emperor’s cup of boiled water!

  • There are three main varieties of Camellia Sinensis: sinensis, assamica and cambodi.
  • Farmers then take these main varieties, and cultivate them to create sub-varieties called cultivars.
  • The location, micro-climate, altitude, picking method and other elements all affect the final taste of the tea.
  • As soon as the leaves are picked they begin to oxidise (like an apple turning brown), which also changes the final flavour.
  • The tea will not taste exactly the same each year, so tea companies will often blend their tea in order to remain consistent. Tea from a single estate may alter in taste but is pure.

teagirl_love lessons

How is tea processed?

Once the tea leaves are picked, they can be processed in a number of ways to change the final product. This leads to six further types of tea: white, green, yellow, oolong, black and pu-erh.

White tea:

  • Least processed of all
  • Buds and small, young leaves are used
  • Handled very carefully, withered in the sun
  • 0% oxidised
  • Light, delicate, elegant

Green tea:

  • Contains the most caffeine of all teas, which is balanced by theanine, the amino acid which makes you feel calm, and is also responsible for green tea being so good for you!
  • Bud and small leaves used
  • Briefly withered in sun, then baked (Chinese, most common) or steamed (Japanese) to destroy the enzyme which causes oxidation
  • 0% oxidised
  • Fresh, grassy, slight astringent taste

Yellow tea: 

  • The most rare tea; not a lot is made and it was once reserved only for emperors
  • Same process as green tea, but after baking/steaming, it is covered up to reabsorb the moisture in a hot environment
  • 0% oxidised
  • Between a white and green tea, less grassy. Pure, soft, light, calming.

Oolong tea: 

  • Larger leaves are picked
  • After withering in the sun the leaves are rolled, which causes oxidation
  • Different amounts and techniques of rolling, lead to different levels of oxidation and a wide variety of oolongs
  • 15-85% oxidised
  • From light, fruity, milky and fresh, to dark, roasted, sweet and complex.

Black tea: 

  • Young leaves are used
  • Rolled and baked to almost complete oxidation
  • 90-95% oxidised
  • Strong, robust, malty and comforting
  • Called red tea in China
  • Most common tea in Britain
  • Top tip: try a good quality loose black tea without milk to truly appreciate the flavours!

Pu-erh tea: 

  • Very different to the other teas
  • Semi-wild, large leaves are used from a very specific cultivar of the tea-plant, grown only in Yunnan province, China
  • Withered and baked, and then fermented
  • Can be either ‘raw’ or ‘cooked’:
    • raw Pu-erh is left to ferment naturally for 20-25 years!
    • cooked Pu-erh is piled up in huge warehouses where the temperature and humidity is very high, for around 2 months.
    • can also come as ‘tea cakes’ where the leaves are tightly compacted into a ball
  • Earthy, clean, fresh flavours
  • Contains statins which can control and lower cholesterol, also good for digestion

 

Phew! Yes, there is indeed a whole world of tea out there, beyond Yorkshire, Tetley and PG Tips. And this is only the beginning of our journey of discovery!

In addition to these basic types of tea, there are different blends, varieties and scented teas, as well as herbal and fruit infusions. There are also different rituals, methods and benefits associated with drinking tea. All of which and more I will be covering in further posts as part of my Love Lessons series!

Homework: try a tea you’ve never tried before (and perhaps never heard of)! Make notes and report back in the comments, or over on social media.

I love learning and I want to share this love with you. I’m especially interested in specific and unusual topics. What would you like to see on the Love Lessons syllabus? Let me know and I might include it in the future!


Coming next on the blog:

  • On Sunday I will be sharing my alternative opinion of Easter, and why I prefer to celebrate Spring without religion.
  • Then on Wednesday I will have a new YouTube tutorial video showing you how to make a notebook! For now you can find my latest video below…

 

 

Have an incredible weekend sisters!

Peace and love,

Rachel x

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