Tea

by Jose Delgado

needs images

Tea is one of the most famous, caffeine beverages known around the world. Its uses are found to be known since 2700 B.C. However, the tea-drinking culture began the third century A.D. in China. This delicious and healthy beverage comes from leaves of especial shrubs that are grown in the warm template areas of Asia. Native to Southeast Asia, from Sri Lanka and India to Assam and China. Nonetheless, tea has been planted widely in tropical and subtropical areas. Near the Equator, it ranges up to nearly 2,000 m elevation Camellia Thea is the name of the plant used to make the famous and well known green tea, black tea and Oolong tea. The young leaves of this plant are processed to make fermented, semi-fermented or green teas. Besides the delicious flavor and the great aroma that we can find in these teas, we can also encounter some components that “stimulate the central nervous system, relax smooth muscles, and increase coronary flow. Tea has also significant anticancer and antioxidant effects and even has been shown to prevent tooth because of the high fluoride content it has.

Botanical:

Camellia Thea (LINK)

Family:

N.O. Camellia Thea (LINK)

Synonyms

Thea sinensis (Sims). Thea Veridis. Thea bohea. Thea stricta Jassamica. Camellia theifera (Griff.).

—Distribution—

Native to Southeast Asia, from China and Assam to Sri Lanka and India, tea has been planted widely in tropical and subtropical areas. Near the Equator, it ranges up to nearly 2,000 m elevation.

Part Used

Dried leaf.

Description

A small evergreen shrub cultivated to a height of 7 to 8 feet, but growing wild up to 30 feet high, much branched. Bark rough, grey. Leaves dark green, lanceolate or elliptical, on short stalks, blunt at apex, base tapering, margins shortly serrate, young leaves hairy, older leaves glabrous. Flowers solitary or two or three together on short branchlets in the leaf axils, somewhat drooping, on short stalks with a few small bracts, 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide; sepals five, imbricate, slightly united below, ovate or rounded, blunt smooth, persistent; petals usually five or up to nine, unequal, strongly rounded, concave, spreading, white, caducous; stamens indefinite, adherent to petals at base in two rows, filaments fiexuose, half the length of petals; anthers large, versatile; ovary small, free, conical, downy, threecelled with three or four pendulous ovules in each cell; styles three distinct or combined at base, slender simple stigmas. Fruit a smooth, flattened, rounded, trigonous three-celled capsule; seed solitary in each cell; size of a small nut.

Constituents

Caffeine (theine), tannin (10 to 20 per cent gallotannic acid), boheic acid, volatile oil, aqueous extract, protein wax, resin, ash and theophylline.

Ecology

Tea is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 7 to 31 dm, annual temperature of 14 to 27°C, and has a pH of 4.5. The tea plant requires warm areas because they are intolerant of frost. The tea plant requires placid, humid, warm environments. The minimum temperature they are able to support is 13°C, and the maximum temperature for these plants should not pass above 30°C.

Cultivation

Tea is propagated either from seeds or by vegetative means.” It requires from 4 to 12 years to bear seeds of the Camellia Thea. First, seedlings should be shaded. After these seedlings being from 6 to 12moth old, they can be out planted in a ball of soil. When these seed get older, then they can be “planted bare-rooted, cutting the stem 10cm from the ground mark.” When planting, insert it at an angle so that the subtending leaf rests on the medium. When planting several hedges of the tea plant, it is better to keep them in about 1.5 m apart spaced, 60 cm apart in row give better initial yields and facilitate mechanical harvesting.

Medicinal Action and Uses

Stimulant, astringent. It exerts a decided influence over the nervous system, generally evinced by a feeling of comfort and exhilaration; it also causes unnatural wakefulness when taken in quantity. Taken moderately by healthy individuals it is harmless, but in excessive quantities it will produce unpleasant nervous and dyspeptic symptoms, the green variety being decidedly the more injurious. Tea is rarely used as a medicine, but, the infusion is useful to relieve neuralgic headaches.

Make your own tea from your plants using our green tea recipe

1. Tender young growth is picked by hand from Camellia sinensis. Young shoots with 2-3 leaves are recommended. The leaves and shoots are allowed to wilt in the shade for a few hours to make rolling easier.

2. The leaves are bruised to allow the fermentation process to begin. Several shoots are rolled between your hands until the leaves darken and become crinkled, but not broken into pieces. This process is repeated until all the leaves are bruised.

3. (Optional) For Oolong Tea the leaves need to ferment or oxidize for a different flavor. Between steps 2 and 4 the leaves are placed in thin layers on a tray in a shady location for 1 to 3 days before being heated.

4. The leaves are dried in an oven set at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. This step is necessary to remove all the water in the leaves and to stop the fermentation process.

Now the tea is ready to use or store in an airtight container.

Many factors affect the taste of tea leaves such as the variety, the climate, the time of year and even the side of the mountain it is grown on. Experienced tea tasters can detect these differences and blend different batches of tea leaves to create specific kinds of tea.

TeaShow TV: Tea in the USA, from Farm to Cup

http://vimeo.com/12700719

References need to format properly

http://www.richters.com/Web_store/web_store.cgi?product=X6240&show=&prodclass=Herb_and_Vegetable_Seeds&source=799158.29456

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/t/tea—08.html

http://www.camforest.com/category_s/53.htm