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All About The Tea Plant

What many people do not know is that the tea plant is native to Asia. In fact, many people think that the plant originated in South America which is pretty far off base! That said, there are areas of South America, the Middle East and Africa where you will be able to find the tea plant. It should be noted, however, that the quality of tea will differ in terms of taste and aroma depending when you get it, where it was from and how it was grown. At the end of the day you will be able to determine which teas you like best after you have taken the time to sample a few that are from different regions.


Rainfall and the Tea Plant
One interesting fact about tea plants is that the need to have a minimum of fifty inches of rain each and every year and need to be planted at at least 7,000 feet above sea level. If there is not enough rain then there will not be proper nutrition for the plant to survive and produce the type of tea that is expected. On the other hand, if there is too much rain the tea leaves will grow quickly and this will cause them to lose some of their flavor. All of that said, it is very important that the tea leaves be grown under proper conditions and monitored so that they come out perfect on terms of taste and aroma.


More about Elevation
The tea plants that are grown at the proper elevation produce the desired leaves at the correct rate. This means that they will just end up tasting better in the long run. When the high elevation comes into play the tea leaves are often forced to produce more chemicals internally to compensate for being up so high which can result in different and unique flavors. However, it should be noted that the temperature at these high elevations must also be right. If it is too cold, or too hot, then the tea will not have the desired taste. As you can see elevation is very important. The best tea in the world is grown at the perfect elevation.


Different Types of the Tea Plant
There are over 2,000 different types of tea plants out there. The end result of all of these different plants is that there are thousands of different teas all of which are unique to one another. In fact, each and every day there are new types of tea developed as there are always different variations of the plants being grown. The end result is that tea has evolved to the point where there is a flavor for everyone. There are literally thousands of options when it comes to finding the right tea for you.


Getting to know the facts about the tea plant will allow you to have a deeper appreciation of what you are consuming. Now that you know how much care goes into growing the plant you might want to take the time to think about where a really good cup of tea came from. Odds are it was grown at a high elevation with just enough sunlight and water.

African Rooibos Tea Facts and Notes

Rooibos tea (pronounced “roy-boss"), also called red tea for its color is a tea that is sought after by many people, but also something that some tea drinkers do not except. If you are unsure whether this type of loose leaf tea is for you or not the best thing for you to do is give it a try. The fact of the matter is that you will never know whether you like it or not if you do not give it a trial run. The end result could be that you really like the taste and aroma. Many people drink red teas for the first time and quickly become hooked. All in all, red tea is something that you need to know a little bit about, as well as try, before you make a final judgment.


Rooibos Origins

In short, red tea comes from the African Red Bush. It was originally consumed by the people of South Africa but soon made its way to every other continent in the world. Once red tea was introduced to other places in the world it became a major source of income for the towns in South Africa that produced the tea. Since there was no alternative out there the people that wanted red tea had to get it from this area in Africa.

Rooibos Tea Flavor

Rooibos tea has a desirable sweet flavor. Since rooibos is free of caffeine and tannic acid, the preparation is very easy. Larger amount of tea or longer brewing do not have such big effects and the infusion remains perfectly enjoyable. It should be noted that the flavor of red tea is something that is highly regarded by tea connoisseurs. This means that for the most part, people who have dedicated a lot of time to tea and tea drinking find the flavor to be perfect. Rooibos copper-brown needle-like leaf is a great base for creating excellent tea blends using flower blossoms, petals, spices, coffee beans, caramel, chocolate chips and other decorations.


Are There Health Benefits?

The answer to this question is yes, there are numerous health benefits to drinking red tea. In fact, red tea is one of the healthiest beverages that you can consume. Not only is it completely free of caffeine but it also has many antioxidants. These antioxidants are responsible for promoting good health as well as ridding your body of any toxins that may be present. These antioxidants are responsible for helping you to look younger. If you want to make sure that your skin is healthy and you have a young appearance then you should drink red tea!
In addition, this tea is thought to have a very soothing effect. It will help to fight off allergies or even a headache. Your immune system will be boosted which means that you will feel better in general. These health benefits of rooibos tea make it very popular amongst people that take their physical and mental health seriously. Not only do you get the health benefits, but you also get the great taste!

Japanese Tea Culture

Believe it or not, most of the tea traditions and rituals that are practiced by the Japanese people today originated in China many, many years ago. These rituals and customs were brought to Japan by monks that were in China studying. Fast forward to modern day and you will see that the main type of tea that is consumed by the Japanese public is green tea in a powder form or oolong tea that originated in China.


It was way back in the ninth century when the first monk returned from China with knowledge of tea. However, it was not until the twelfth century when tea really became somewhat popular in this part of the world. The powdered green tea was placed into a bowl that had hot water added to it. Next, it was mixed together to produce the earliest form of green tea. In addition to that, some of the monks that introduced tea to Japan also brought tea seeds back with them from China. These seeds were responsible for producing some of the best quality Japanese teas of this period.


At first, the powdered green tea that the monks brought back with them was used mainly for religious rituals or medicinal purposes. However, before long it was determined that tea drinking was to become a status symbol amongst the upper class citizens of Japan. Because of this early tea tasting parties developed where the participants could win big prizes just by guessing what the best quality tea was.


The basic Japanese tea ceremony began to evolve and develop hundreds of years ago. Specifically, wabi-sabi is a Japanese tea ritual that is somewhat sacred. The wabi is thought to represent the spiritual experiences of the human life whereas the sabi is thought to represent the outside experiences of life. When you put these two things together you are to have a nice experience that is sacred. Wabi-sabi is supposed to be experienced when drinking tea in Japan as there should be a subdued state of mind along with a spiritual awakening. The whole Japanese tea ceremony is a spiritual practice that is thought to help cleanse the mind, body and soul.


By the 1500’s the ritual of drinking tea had spread all over Japan. It was a ritual that was not only for the rich but also for anyone that had the means to partake. This meant that more and more families were getting involved with tea customs and tea culture. The end result of this involvement was the further development and enhancement of some popular traditions that are still being observed to date. Without the popularity of tea culture during this time period there is a chance that Japanese tea rituals would not be what they are today. For many people this may be hard to imagine as tea is such a large part of the lives of many people in this area of the world.


Since tea culture is so popular in Japan there are actually groups of people that get together in order to study it. These groups meet on a regular basis to talk about the different traditions and rituals that are present. The traditions and rituals are discussed and interpreted with an open mind at these meetings. Believe it or not there are dedicated tea schools in Japan that focus on the study of local tea traditions. Students that attend these schools usually pay a monthly fee that covers the cost of the tea as well as any complimentary equipment or books. The teachers at the schools will always be dressed in traditional Japanese outfits that fit the era being discussed. While most schools allow the students to be dressed casually, in some cases they will allow a student to wear the schools mark. Being granted permission to wear this mark means that you are a high level student that has a deep understanding and regard for the local tea traditions. In general, the newer students start out by observing the practices of the older students. In fact, the newer students may be taught much of what they know by the more advanced students instead of the teacher. These advanced students are the ones that are taught directly by the teacher. New students will learn about tea but they will also be taught about things such as how to enter a tea room in Japan, how to correctly open and close sliding doors and even who to bow to when they enter a room filled with people.

Tea Culture in Taiwan

In Taiwan, loose leaf tea was first used as a medicinal plant. However, over the years it has developed into much more than that. The main reasons why tea has developed into something meant for relaxation is mainly because of who inhabited Taiwan in its early days. The Taiwanese tea culture can be traced back hundreds of years and has similarities to Dutch, Chinese and Japanese tea cultures.


The Dutch occupied Taiwan for about forty years in the 1600’s. They used the area as a trade post between China and Europe. Importantly, tea was introduced to Europeans by the Dutch and simultaneously left an impression on the people of Taiwan. Tea was grown by the Dutch on a very small scale in Taiwan during the time that they occupied the area but most of the tea that the Dutch consumed in the area was imported to them. At the time of the Dutch occupation, it is thought that there were a large number of Chinese immigrants that began to move into the area. These immigrants were believed to bring with them a good supply of tea seedlings in addition to their unique tea culture. Mass production of tea did not begin in Taiwan until the mid to late 1800’s. The local Chinese farmers began to grow the tea in large volumes and even established a tea factory in 1868. Believe it or not, shortly thereafter tea was exported to New York in the United States. Because of this, tea was one of the most important export commodities for the people of Taiwan. Tea simply became a daily beverage and way of life to the people. Like in other cultures, it is always offered on special occasions such as family gatherings or birthdays.


Much of the current tea culture in Taiwan comes from Japanese influence. The Japanese occupied the area from around 1900 to the end of World War II. While there, the Japanese organized the production of tea as well as the industry as a while. They were responsible for the promotion of Taiwanese tea to the world and expanding its market. At this time the Japanese inhabitants developed testing facilities for tea that were responsible for developing some of the world’s most popular flavors. To this day many of them are still very popular all around the globe. At the end of the war the Japanese had to give control of Taiwan back to the people of China. The Chinese further developed the tea culture from that point in time until present day. This unique culture is what has helped to make Taiwanese tea as popular as it is today.


In Taiwan, the typical family owns a minimum of one set of teaware that is used at home. In fact, many families own more than one set for use depending on the occasion. The teapots are used to brew tea until the surface area of the pot becomes a bright color. This is raising the teapot, which is all part of the culture. Raising the pot is a tradition that is believed to add beauty to the process. A nice collection of teaware can generally be found at any store in Taiwan. It is important to note that there are many other pieces of teaware that are important in addition to the pot.


Things such as a decanting vessel are necessary and used to make sure that the tea has the proper flavor as well as level of consistency. Other things such as a tray should be present in order to hold spills should there be an accident. All of these items are necessary in order for tea to be served properly. Since the tea culture is so important it is necessary to get the process of making and serving tea correct. In fact, serving tea in Taiwan is thought to be something that is done to show respect to your guests. That said, getting the process correct is of the utmost importance. Depending on who your guests are it may even be necessary to serve the tea with your finest teaware as you want to make a good impression on them.


Tea culture in Taiwan is something that has been influenced by other cultures all across the world. These influences have helped create a totally unique culture that is valued by the people that live in this country. The culture of tea in Taiwan is ever developing and will remain strong for years to come.

Korea And Its Way Of Tea

Believe it or not, the first documented tea ritual in Korea was recorded in the year 661. Loose leaf tea was used as an offering to the spirits in hopes that they would provide protection even in the afterlife. These types of rituals were also common with the spirits of well thought of monks all the way into the fourteenth century. The rituals would take place in temples and could last several hours or even days! In addition, most of these rituals were overseen by high ranking officials to ensure that they were executed properly. Over the last several hundred years the Korean tea drinking rituals have been developed and evolving to the point where they are typically used just for special occasions. In fact, the rite to have tea was made a national rite that was made available to all residents of the country. This type of rite is not present in other countries that do not take tea drinking as seriously. Over history there have been periods of decline in the ceremonial tea rituals of Korea. However, each time there was a decline it was followed up with a period of great interest. This fact alone shows how serious the people of Korea are in regard to the tea rituals that they hold so dear. No matter what the circumstances surrounding the decline in tea drinking it has always seemed to make a comeback is it is central to the core values of the people.


The interesting thing about Korean tea ceremonies is that they seem to follow along with the seasons.  Because of this, the way in which the tea is served varies greatly depending on what time of year it is. However, for the most part tea is always served with the assistance of bowls and cups. Much of the time the bowls and cups are green with images and designs on them for decoration. There are, however, instances where the cups and bowls are different colors. For example, special situations may call for a bronze or white cups and bowls. In the summer months the bowls that are used are about 5-centimeters high and 12-centimeters wide. These dimensions are important because it allows for quick cooling of boiling water as there is more surface area that is exposed. The boiling water is cooled in the bowl and then emptied into a teapot. In Korea, the water is cooled because pouring water that is too hot over the tea will make the product taste bitter. In the fall and winter the bowls are taller and narrower so that they could maintain the internal heat without cooling too much. The tea would be made the same way that is made in the summer- the water is poured into a teapot making sure that it is not too hot so the taste does not become bitter.


It should be noted that the way in which the tea is consumed is unique and unlike most other tea cultures. In short, the approach to tea is less ritualistic than other places. The emphasis is on relaxing and enjoying the tea. In other cultures the emphasis may be on the technique that was used in making it and even the way in which it is to be consumed.  Because of this, the Korean teahouses are all a bit different in design and styles. For example, some will offer food along with the tea while others will not. The teaware that is used can also vary from teahouse to teahouse as there is not strict guidelines that must be adhered to. The thing that is common in all the teahouses in Korea is that the best local water is used to brew the tea. Some teahouses in Korea even go as far as to develop their own springs where they can harvest high quality water. The water is taken from the spring, boiled and then immediately used in the tea making process. This ensures that the taste of the tea is natural and that it is unique to the area that the tea is being consumed in.


Tea has always been served in Korea on special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. The tea signifies the importance of the event as well as makes it memorable. Most often the tea will be served with some other type of cake or pastry for the guests to enjoy. At the party the host or hostess is in charge of making sure that all the guests have the tea just how they want it. This is a sign of showing respect to the guests that you have invited to the party.