Tea is an aromatic beverage commonly prepared by pouring hot or boiling water over cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub native to Asia. It is said that it is the most widely consumed drink in the world after. Tea was originated in southwestern China, where it was used as a medicinal drink. It was popularized as a recreational drink during the Chinese Tang dynasty, and tea drinking spread to other East Asian countries. During the 17th century, tea became fashionable among Britons, who started large-scale production and commercialization of the plant in India to bypass a Chinese monopoly at that time. Today India is the second largest producer of tea in the world after china, producing more than a billion kilograms of tea every year. Darjeeling and Assam teas have created their own landmark in the tea industry over the globe. According to ASSOCHAM report released in December-2011, India is the world’s largest consumer of tea and uses nearly 30 percent of the global output.
Types of Tea:
Tea is divided into various categories based on how it is processed. Majorly four different types of tea are produced -
White Tea :
White teas are rarer than other teas and can only be plucked once a year. These teas are produced using only the first bud and top leaf from the new season’s tea bush. The tea is withered and then dried. White tea got its name due to the fine white downy hairs that covers the first bud. These teas are very pale in colour, light and delicate in taste.
Green tea :
Green tea goes through a slightly different process to black tea. Depending on the type of green tea, theleaves may or may not be withered. The tea is then either steamed or pan-fired to stop the oxidation process. The leaves are then rolled and fired.The colour of green tea is retained as the heating process stops any chemical reaction with oxygen (oxidation) preserving its greenness.
Oolong tea is semi-oxidised and therefore falls between black and green tea. There are many types of Oolong tea, ranging from very light, fragrant teas to dark coppery teas with the taste of burnt caramel.
The leaves are wilted and are then shaken in baskets to lightly bruise the edges and left only until oxidisation has set in along the leaves’ outer edges.
All teas are ‘plucked’ and the tea pluckers select the new shoots, typically the first two leaves and a bud. Tea pluckers recognise the exact moment the tea should be removed from the bush to ensure only the tender leaves are used to produce the finest tea.