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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

        ea is the second most popular beverage in the world (the
        most popular is water). It is made by steeping processed
        leaves, buds or twigs of the tea bush Camellia sinensis in hot
water for a few minutes. The processing can include oxidation
(fermentation), heating, drying and the addition of other herbs,
flowers, spices and fruits. There are four types of true tea: black tea,
oolong tea, green tea, and white tea. Tea is a natural source of
caffeine, theophylline, and antioxidants, although it has almost no
fat, carbohydrates, or protein. It has a cooling, slightly bitter and
astringent taste. Iced Tea has been popular in North America since
the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.
                                                                                Tea leaves in a Chinese

A tea bush

The term herbal tea usually refers to infusions of fruit or herbs such as rosehip tea,
chamomile tea and Jiaogulan that contain no tea leaves. Alternative terms for herbal
tea that avoid the misleading word "tea" are tisane and herbal infusion. This article is
concerned exclusively with preparations and uses of the tea plant Camellia sinensis.

Main article: Camellia sinensis

In the wild, the tea plant Camellia sinensis may grow from 5 to 15 m, and sometimes
even to 30 m.1 The natural distribution consists of the foothills of the Himalayas,
from northeast India to southwest China2, areas with subtropical monsoon climates

1 Arcimovicova p. 43. See also a photo of an exceptionally old and big tea tree called "King tea
plant" (taken by SMČ tea expedition, 1997)
2 Mansfeld's Database Taxonomy Module: Camellia sinensis. Retrieved on 2006-07-22.

with wet and hot summers and relatively cold and dry winters.3 Today, it is cultivated
in many tropical and subtropical regions. In tropical regions, the best conditions are
at higher altitudes. Important tea producing regions are mainland China, Taiwan,
India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Japan, Indonesia, Nepal and Bangladesh. (In the tea trade,
Sri Lanka and Taiwan are still referred to by their former names of Ceylon and
Formosa, respectively.) Recently the Tregothnan Estate in Cornwall, England has
started growing tea.4 Tea has also been cultivated in the United States since 1744.
(See Tea production in United States).

A Malaysian tea plantation

Cultivated tea shrubs are usually trimmed to below 2 m (six feet) to stimulate the
growth of leaves and to ease plucking. Many insects, including green leafhoppers,
mites, caterpillars, and termites, are natural enemies of tea plants.

Several varieties of Camellia sinensis are used for tea making, among them the
Assam, China, Hong Kong and Cambodian varieties that differ in flavour, preferred
climate and soil, and growing habit (some are shrubs, some trees).

About 3.2 million tonnes of tea were produced worldwide in 2004.5 India, China, Sri
Lanka and Kenya (in descending order) are the most prolific producers of tea leaves. 6

Processing and classification
The types of tea are distinguished by their processing. Leaves of Camellia sinensis, if
not dried quickly after picking, soon begin to wilt and oxidize. This process resembles
the malting of barley, in that starch is converted into sugars; the leaves turn
progressively darker, as chlorophyll breaks down and tannins are released. The next
step in processing is to stop the oxidation process at a predetermined stage by
removing the water from the leaves via heating.

3 Arcimovicova p. 46
4 Tregothnan Tea. Retrieved on 2006-07-22.
5 FAO figures. Retrieved on 2006-07-22.
6 Agritrade tea executive brief. Retrieved on 2006-07-22.

The term fermentation was used (probably by wine fanciers) to describe this process,
and has stuck, even though no true fermentation happens (i.e. the process is not
driven by microbes and produces no ethanol). Without careful moisture and
temperature control, however, fungi will grow on tea. The fungi cause real
fermentation which will contaminate the tea with toxic and carcinogenic substances,
so that the tea must be discarded.

Tea is traditionally classified based on the degree or period of fermentation
(oxidation) the leaves have undergone:


    Young leaves (new growth buds) that have undergone no oxidation; the buds
    may be shielded from sunlight to prevent formation of chlorophyll. White tea is
    produced in lesser quantities than most of the other styles, and can be
    correspondingly more expensive than tea from the same plant processed by
    other methods. It is also less well-known in countries outside of China, though
    this is changing with the introduction of white tea in bagged form.


    The oxidation process is stopped after a minimal amount of oxidation by
    application of heat; either with steam, a traditional Japanese method; or by dry
    cooking in hot pans, the traditional Chinese method. Tea leaves may be left to
    dry as separate leaves or rolled into small pellets to make gun-powder tea. The
    latter process is time-consuming and is typically done only with pekoes of higher
    quality. The tea is processed within one to two days of harvesting.


    Oxidation is stopped somewhere between the standards for green tea and black
    tea. The oxidation process will take two to three days.


    The tea leaves are allowed to completely oxidize. Black tea is the most common
    form of tea in southern Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan etc) and in
    the last century many African countries including Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda,
    Malawi and Zimbabwe. The literal translation of the Chinese word is red tea,
    which may be used by some tea-lovers. The Chinese call it red tea because the
    actual tea liquid is red. Westerners call it black tea because the tea leaves used to
    brew it are usually black. However, red tea may also refer to rooibos, an
    increasingly popular South African tisane. The oxidation process will take
    around two weeks and up to one month. Black tea is further classified as either
    orthodox or CTC (Crush, Tear, Curl, a production method developed about
    1932). Unblended black teas are also identified by the estate they come from,
    their year and the flush (first, second or autumn). Orthodox and CTC teas are
    further graded according to the post-production leaf quality by the Orange Pekoe


    (also known as Póu léi (Polee) in Cantonese), Two forms of pu-erh teas are
    available, "raw" and "cooked". "Raw" or "green" pu-erh may be consumed young
    or aged to further mature. During the aging process, the tea undergoes a second,
    microbial fermentation. "Cooked" pu-erh is made from green pu-erh leaf that
    has been artificially oxidized to approximate the flavour of the natural aging
    process. This is done through a controlled process similar to composting, where
    both the moisture and temperature of the tea are carefully monitored. Both types
    of pu-erh tea are usually compressed into various shapes including bricks, discs,
    bowls, or mushrooms. Compression occurs to start the second
    oxidation/fermentation process, as only compressed forms of pu-erh will age.
    While most teas are consumed within a year of production, pu-erh can be aged
    for many years to improve its flavour, up to 30 to 50 years for raw pu-erh and 10
    to 15 years for cooked pu-erh, although experts and aficionados disagree about
    what the optimal age is to stop the aging process. Most often, pu-erh is steeped
    for up to five minutes in boiling water. Additionally, Some Tibetans use pu-erh
    as a caloric food, boiled with yak butter, sugar and salt to make yak butter tea.
    Teas that undergo a second oxidation, such as pu-erh and liu bao, are collectively
    referred to as black tea in Chinese. This is not to be confused with the English
    term Black tea, which is known in Chinese as "red Tea".


    Either used as a name of high-quality tea served at the Imperial court, or of
    special tea processed similarly to green tea, but with a slower drying phase.


    Also called winter tea, kukicha is made from twigs and old leaves pruned from
    the tea plant during its dormant season and dry-roasted over a fire. It is popular
    as a health food in Japan and in macrobiotic diets.


    literally "brown rice tea" in Japanese, a green tea blended with dry-roasted
    brown rice (sometimes including popped rice), very popular in Japan but also
    drunk in China.


    Teas processed or brewed with flowers; typically, each flower goes with a specific
    category of tea, such as green or red tea. The most famous flower tea is jasmine
    tea ( H-eung Pín in Cantonese, Hua Chá, simply flower tea, in Mandarin), a
    green or oolong tea scented (or brewed) with jasmine flowers. Rose, lotus,
    lychee, and chrysanthemum are also popular flowers.

Tea is sometimes classified by its health-related properties. For instance, teas good
for weight loss include all green teas in the broadest sense, including white and
yellow teas, and even pu-erh teas (which can look brown). Different types of teas in
China are associated with different balances of yin and yang. Green teas tend to be

yin, black and red teas tend to be yang, and Oolong teas tends to be balanced. Brown
Pu-erh tea is usually yang, and is sometimes mixed with yin-energy chrysanthemum
flowers to balance it. Chinese people will often choose which tea to drink based on the
yin-yang nature of a season, or based on a recommendation from a Chinese doctor

Blending and additives
Almost all teas in tea-bags and most other teas sold in England are blends. Blending
may occur at the level of tea-planting area (e.g., Assam), or teas from many areas may
be blended. The aim of blending is a stable taste over different years, and a better
price. More expensive, better tasting tea may cover the inferior taste of cheaper tea.

Tea weighing station north of Batumi, before

There are various teas which have additives and/or different processing than "pure"
varieties. Tea is able to easily receive any aroma, which may cause problems in
processing, transportation or storage of tea, but can be also advantageously used to
prepare scented teas.Whereas pure tea is known to have cool effects in summer
whereas has soothing and hot effects in winters.

Tea contains catechins, a type antioxidants. In fresh tea leaf, catechins can be up to
30% of the dry weight. Catechins are highest in concentration in white and green teas
while black tea has substantially less due to its oxidative preparation. Tea also
contains the stimulants caffeine (about 3% of the dry weight and typically 40 mg per
cup of prepared tea), theophylline and theobromine. The latter two being present in
very small amounts.7

7Graham H. N.; Green tea composition, consumption, and polyphenol chemistry; Preventive
Medicine 21(3):334-50 (1992).

Origin and early history in Asia
It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into History of tea.

The cradle of the tea plant is a region that encompasses eastern and southern China,
northern Myanmar, and the Assam state of India. Spontaneous (wild) growth of the
assamica variant is observed in area ranging from Chinese province Yunnan to the
northern part of Myanmar and Assam region of India. The variant sinensis grows
naturally in eastern and southeastern regions of China. 8 Recent studies and
occurrence of hybrids of the two types in wider area extending over mentioned
regions suggest the place of origin of tea is in an area consisting of the northern part
of Myanmar and the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of China. 9

Origins of human use of tea are described in several myths, but it is unknown as to
where tea was first created as a drink.

Creation myths
In one popular Chinese legend, Shennong, the legendary Emperor of China, inventor
of agriculture and Chinese medicine, was on a journey about five thousand years ago.
The Emperor, known for his wisdom in the ways of science, believed that the safest
way to drink water was by first boiling it. One day he noticed some leaves had fallen
into his boiling water. The ever inquisitive and curious monarch took a sip of the
brew and was pleasantly surprised by its flavour and its restorative properties.
Variant of the legend tells that the emperor tried medical properties of various herbs
on himself, some of them poisonous, and found tea works as an antidote. 10 Shennong
is also mentioned in Lu Yu's Cha Jing, famous early work on the subject. 11

A Chinese legend, which spread along with Buddhism, Bodhidharma is credited with
discovery of tea. Bodhidharma, a semi-legendary Buddhist monk, founder of the
Chan school of Buddhism, journeyed to China. He became angered because he was
falling asleep during meditation, so he cut off his eyelids. Tea bushes sprung from the
spot where his eyelids hit the ground. 12 Sometimes, the second story is retold with
Gautama Buddha in place of Bodhidharma 13 In another variant of the first
mentioned myth, Gautama Buddha discovered tea when some leaves had fallen into
boiling water. 14

Whether or not these legends have any basis in fact, tea has played a significant role
in Asian culture for centuries as a staple beverage, a curative, and a symbol of status.
It is not surprising its discovery is ascribed to religious or royal origins. The fact is
that the Chinese have enjoyed tea for centuries. Scholars hailed the brew as a cure for
a variety of ailments, the nobility considered the consumption of good tea as a mark
of their status and the common people simply enjoyed its flavor.

8 Yamamoto p. 2
9 Yamamoto p. 4
10 Chow p. 19-20 (Czech edition); also Arcimovicova p. 9, Evans p. 2 and others
11 Lu Ju p. 29-30 (Czech edition)
12 Chow p. 20-21
13 Evans p. 3
14 Okakura

While historically the origin of tea as a medicinal herb useful for staying awake is
unclear, China is considered the birthplace of tea drinking with recorded tea use in its
history to at least 1000 BC. The Han Dynasty used tea as medicine. The use of tea as a
beverage drunk for pleasure on social occasions dates from the Tang Dynasty or

Lu Yu's statue in Xi'an.The Tang Dynasty writer Lu Yu's 陆羽 (729-804) Cha Jing 茶
经 is an early work on the subject. (See also Tea Classics) According to Cha Jing
written around 760, tea drinking was widespread. The book describes how tea plants
were grown, the leaves processed, and tea prepared as a beverage. It also describes
how tea was evaluated. The book even discusses where the best tea leaves were

At this time in tea's history, the nature of the beverage and style of tea preparation
were quite different from the way we experience tea today. Tea leaves were processed
into cakes. The dried teacake, generally called brick tea was ground in a stone mortar.
Hot water was added to the powdered teacake, or the powdered teacake was boiled in
earthenware kettles then consumed as a hot beverage.

A form of compressed tea referred to as white tea was being produced as far back as
the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.). This special white tea of Tang was picked in early
spring when the new growths of tea bushes that resemble silver needles were
abundant. These "first flushes" were used as the raw material to make the
compressed tea.

Advent of steaming and powder tea
During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), production and preparation of all tea changed.
The tea of Song included many loose-leaf styles (to preserve the delicate character
favoured by the court society), but a new powdered form of tea emerged. Tea leaves
were picked and quickly steamed to preserve their colour 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 was highly regarded for its
deep emerald or iridescent white appearance and its rejuvenating and healthy energy.
Drinking tea was considered stylish among government officers and intellectuals
during the Southern Song period in China (12th to 13th centuries). They would read
poetry, write calligraphy, paint, and discuss philosophy, while enjoying tea.
Sometimes they would hold tea competitions where teas and tea instruments were
judged. When Song Dynasty emperor Hui Zhong proclaimed white tea to be the
culmination of all that is elegant, he set in motion the evolution of an enchanting

This Song style of tea preparation incorporated powdered tea and ceramic ware in a
ceremonial aesthetic known as the Song tea ceremony. Japanese monks traveling to
China at this time had learned the Song preparation and brought it home with them.
Although it later became extinct in China, this Song style of tea evolved into the
Japanese tea ceremony, which endures today.

Many forms of white tea were made in the Song Dynasty due to the discerning tastes
of the court society. Hui Zhong, who ruled China from 1101-1125, referred to white tea
as the best type of tea, and he has been credited with the development of many white

teas in the Song Dynasty, including "Palace Jade Sprout" and "Silver Silk Water

Producing white teas was extremely labour-intensive. First, tea was picked from
selected varietals of cultivated bushes or wild tea trees in early spring. The tea was
immediately steamed, and the buds were then selected and stripped of their outer,
unopened leaf. Only the delicate interior of the bud was reserved to be rinsed with
spring water and dried. This process produced white teas that were paper thin and

Once processed, the finished tea was distributed and often given as a tribute to the
Song court in loose form. It was then ground to a fine, silvery-white powder that was
whisked in the wide ceramic bowls used in the Song tea ceremony. These white
powder teas were also used in the famous whisked tea competitions of that era.

Roasting and brewing
Tea roastingSteaming tea leaves was the primary process used for centuries in the
preparation of tea. After the transition from compressed tea to the powdered form,
the production of tea for trade and distribution changed once again. The Chinese
learned to process tea in a different way in the mid-13th century. Tea leaves were
roasted and then crumbled rather than steamed. This is the origin of today's loose
teas and the practice of brewed tea.

In 1391, the Ming court issued a decree that only loose tea would be accepted as a
"tribute". As a result, loose tea production increased and processing techniques
advanced. Soon, most tea was distributed in full-leaf, loose form and steeped in
earthenware vessels.

Oxidization (often mistakenly called fermentation)
Tea "fermentation" is not related to yeast fermentation. It is actually the oxidization
of the tea leaves. In 17th century China numerous advances were made in tea
production. In the southern part of China, tea leaves were sun dried then half
fermented, producing Black Dragon teas or Oolongs. However, this method was not
common in the rest of China.

The first historical record documenting the offering of tea to an ancestral god
describes a rite in the year 661 in which a tea offering was made to the spirit of King
Suro, the founder of the Geumgwan Gaya Kingdom (42-562).

Records from the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) show that tea offerings were made in
Buddhist temples to the spirits of revered monks.

During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the royal Yi family and the aristocracy used
tea for simple rites, the "Day Tea Rite" was a common daytime ceremony, whereas
the "Special Tea Rite" was reserved for specific occasions. These terms are not found
in other countries. Toward the end of the Joseon Dynasty, commoners joined the
trend and used tea for ancestral rites, following the Chinese example based on Zhu
Xi's text formalities of Family.

Stoneware was common, ceramic more frequent, mostly made in provincial kilns,
with porcelain rare, imperial porcelain with dragons the rarest.

Historically the appearance of the bowls and cups is naturalistic, with a division
according to religious influence. Celadon or jade green, "punchong", or bronze-like
weathered patinas for Buddhist tea rituals; the purest of white with faint designs in
porcelain for Confucian tea rituals; and coarser porcelains and ash-stone glazes for
animist tea rituals, or for export to Japan where they were known as "gohan chawan".
An aesthetic of rough surface texture from a clay and sand mix with a thin glazing
were particularly prized and copied. The randomness of this creation was said to
provide a "now moment of reality" treasured by tea masters.

Unlike the Chinese tradition, no Korean tea vessels used in the ceremony are tested
for a fine musical note. Judgment instead is based on naturalness in form, emotion,
and colouring.

The earliest kinds of tea used in tea ceremonies were heavily pressed cakes of black
tea, the equivalent of aged pu-erh tea still popular in China. Vintages of tea were
respected, and tea of great age imported from China had a certain popularity at court.
However, importation of tea plants by Buddhist monks brought a more delicate series
of teas into Korea, and the tea ceremony.

While green tea, "chaksol" or "chugno", is most often served, other teas such as
"Byeoksoryung" Chunhachoon, Woojeon, Jakseol, Jookro, Okcheon, as well as native
chrysanthemum tea, persimmon leaf tea, or mugwort tea may be served at different
times of the year.

Buddhist monks incorporated tea ceremonies into votive offerings. However the
Goryeo nobility and later the Confucian yangban scholars formalized the rituals. Tea
ceremonies have always been used for important occasions such as birthdays,
anniversaries, remembrance of old friends, and increasingly a way to rediscovering
Seon meditation.

Japanese Involvement
Importing tea and tea culture
The earliest known references to green tea in Japan are in a text written by a
Buddhist monk in the 9th century. Tea became a drink of the religious classes in
Japan when Japanese priests and envoys sent to China to learn about its culture
brought tea to Japan. The first form of tea brought from China was probably in a
teacake. Ancient recordings indicate the first batch of tea seeds were brought by a
priest named Saicho (最澄; 767-822) in 805 and then by another named Kukai (空海;
774-835) in 806. It became a drink of the royal classes when Emperor Saga (嵯峨天皇
), the Japanese emperor, encouraged the growth of tea plants. Seeds were imported
from China, and cultivation in Japan began.

Kissa Yojoki - the Book of Tea
In 1191, the famous Zen priest Eisai (栄西; 1141-1215) brought back tea seeds to
Kyoto. Some of the tea seeds were given to the priest Myoe Shonin, and became the
basis for Uji tea. The oldest tea specialty book in Japan, Kissa Yojoki (喫茶養生記;

how to stay healthy by drinking tea) was written by Eisai. The two-volume book was
written in 1211 after his second and last visit to China. The first sentence states, "Tea
is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one's life more
full and complete". The preface describes how drinking tea can have a positive effect
on the five vital organs, especially the heart. It discusses tea's medicinal qualities
which include easing the effects of alcohol, acting as a stimulant, curing blotchiness,
quenching thirst, eliminating indigestion, curing beriberi, preventing fatigue, and
improving urinary and brain function. Part One also explains the shapes of tea plants,
tea flowers and tea leaves and covers how to grow tea plants and process tea leaves.
In Part Two, the book discusses the specific dosage and method required for
individual physical ailments.

Eisai was also instrumental in introducing tea consumption to the warrior class,
which rose to political prominence after the Heian Period. Eisai learned that the
shogun Minamoto no Sanetomo had a habit of drinking too much every night. In
1214, Eisai presented a book he had written to the general, lauding the health benefits
of tea drinking. After that, the custom of tea drinking became popular among the

Very soon, green tea became a staple among cultured people in Japan -- a brew for
the gentry and the Buddhist priesthood alike. Production grew and tea became
increasingly accessible, though still a privilege enjoyed mostly by the upper classes.

Roasting process introduced to Japan
In the 13th century Ming dynasty, southern China and Japan enjoyed much cultural
exchange. Significant merchandise was traded and the roasting method of processing
tea became common in Kyushu, Japan. Since the steaming (9th century) and the
roasting (13th century) method were brought to Japan during two different periods,
these teas are completely distinct from each another.

Japan tea culture emerges
Japanese tea ceremonyThe pastime made popular in China in the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries -- reading poetry, writing calligraphy, painting, and discussing
philosophy while enjoying tea – eventually became popular in Japan and with
Samurai society. The modern tea ceremony developed over several centuries by Zen
Buddhist monks under the original guidance of the monk Sen-no Rikyu (1522-1591).
In fact, both the beverage and the ceremony surrounding it played a prominent role
in feudal diplomacy. Many of the most important negotiations among feudal clan
leaders were carried out in the austere and serene setting of the tea ceremony. By the
end of the sixteenth century, the current "Way of Tea" was established. Eventually,
green tea became available to the masses, making it the nation's most popular

Modern Japanese green tea
In 1740, Soen Nagatani developed Japanese sencha (Japanese: 煎茶), which is an
unfermented form of green tea. To prepare sencha, tea leaves are first steam-pressed,
then rolled and dried into a loose tea. The dried leaves are then ground and mixed
with hot water to yield the final drink. Sencha is now one of Japan's mainstay teas.
This is a formal hemp species tea which develops its deep green color. It has long
been used as a mild sedative, to calm and soothe.

Rolling machines
At the end of the Meiji period (1868-1912), machine manufacturing of green tea was
introduced and began replacing handmade tea. Machines took over the processes of
primary drying, tea rolling, secondary drying, final rolling, and steaming.

Automation contributed to improved quality control and reduced labour. Sensor and
computer controls were introduced to machine automation so that unskilled workers
can produce superior tea without compromising in quality. Certain regions in Japan
are known for special types of green tea, as well as for teas of exceptional quality,
making the leaves themselves a highly valued commodity. This combination of
Nature's bounty and manmade technical breakthroughs combine to produce the most
exceptional green tea products sold on the market today. Today, roasted green tea is
not as common in Japan and powdered tea is used in ceremonial fashion.

Tea spreads to the world
It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into History of tea.

As the Venetian explorer Marco Polo failed to mention tea in his travel records, it is
conjectured that the first Europeans to encounter tea were either Jesuits living in
Beijing who attended the court of the last Ming Emperors; or Portuguese explorers
visiting Japan in 1560. Russia discovered tea in 1618 after a Ming Emperor of China
offered it as a gift to Czar Michael I.

Soon imported tea was introduced to Europe, where it quickly became popular
among the wealthy in France and the Netherlands. English use of tea dates from
about 1650 and is attributed to Catherine of Braganza (Portuguese princess and
queen consort of Charles II of England).

The high demand for tea in Britain caused a huge trade deficit with China. The British
set up tea plantations in colonial India to provide their own supply. They also tried to
balance the trade deficit by selling opium to the Chinese, which later led to the First
Opium War in 1838–1842.

The Boston Tea Party was an act of uprising in which Boston residents destroyed
crates of British tea in 1773, in protest against British tea and taxation policy. Prior to
the Boston Tea Party, residents of Britain's North American 13 colonies drank far
more tea than coffee. In Britain, coffee was more popular. After the protests against
the various taxes, Americans stopped drinking tea as an act of patriotism. Similarly,
Britons slowed their consumption of coffee.

These days, contradicting tea economies do exist. Tea farmers in Japan, Taiwan and
China often enjoy better incomes compared to farmers in black tea producing

The word tea
The Chinese character for tea is 茶, but it is pronounced differently in the various
Chinese dialects. Two pronunciations have made their way into other languages
around the world. One is 'te' (POJ: tê) which comes from the Min Nan dialect spoken
around the port of Xiamen (Amoy). The other is Cha, used by the Cantonese dialect
spoken around the ports of Guangzhou (Canton), Hong Kong, and in overseas
Chinese communities, as well as in the Mandarin dialect of northern China. Yet
another different pronunciation is 'zoo', used in the Wu dialect spoken around

Languages that have Te derivatives include Afrikaans (tee), Armenian, Catalan (te),
Danish (te), Dutch (thee), English (tea), Esperanto (teo), Estonian (tee), Faroese (te),
Finnish (tee), French (thé), (West) Frisian (tee), Galician (té), German (Tee), Hebrew
(‫/ ,תה‬te/ or /tei/), Hungarian (tea), Icelandic (te), Indonesian (teh), Irish (tae),
Italian (tè), scientific Latin (thea), Latvian (tēja), Malay (teh), Norwegian (te), Polish
(herbata from Latin herba thea), Scots Gaelic (tì, teatha), Singhalese, Spanish (té),
Swedish (te), Tamil (thè), Welsh (te), and Yiddish (‫/ ,טיי‬tei/).

Those that use Cha or Chai derivatives include Albanian (çaj), Arabic (‫ ,) َاي‬Bangla
(চা), Bosnian (čaj), Bulgarian (чай), Capampangan (cha), Cebuano (tsa), Croatian
(čaj), Czech (čaj), Greek (τσάι), Hindi (चाय), Japanese (茶, ちゃ, cha), Korean (차),
Macedonian (čaj), Malayalam, Nepali (chai), Persian (‫ ,)چاى‬Punjabi (ਚਾਹ), Portuguese
(chá), Romanian (ceai), Russian, (чай, chai), Serbian (чај), Slovak (čaj), Slovene
(čaj), Swahili (chai), Tagalog (tsaa), Thai (ชา), Tibetan (ja), Turkish (çay), Ukrainian
(чай), Urdu (‫ )چاى‬and Vietnamese (trà and chè are both direct derivatives of the
Chinese 茶; the latter term is used mainly in the north).

The Polish word for a tea-kettle is czajnik, which could be derived directly from Cha
or from the cognate Russian word. However, tea in Polish is herbata, which was
probably derived from the Latin 'Herba thea' meaning 'green tea'.

It is tempting to correlate these names with the route that was used to deliver tea to
these cultures, but this correspondence does not follow. For example, most British
trade went through Canton, which uses cha.

In Ireland, or at least in Dublin, the term "cha" is sometimes used for tea, with "tay"
as a common pronunciation throughout the land (derived from the Irish Gaelic tae),
and "char" was a common slang term for tea throughout British Empire and
Commonwealth military forces in the 19th and 20th centuries, crossing over into
civilian usage. In North America, the word "chai" is used to refer almost exclusively to
the Indian "chai" (or "masala chai") beverage.

Perhaps the only place in which a word unrelated to tea is used to describe the
beverage is South America (particularly Andean countries), because a similar
stimulant beverage, hierba mate, was consumed there long before tea arrived. In
various places of South America, any tea is referred to as mate.

Tea culture
Tea is often drunk at social events, such as afternoon tea and the tea party. It may be
drunk early in the day to heighten alertness; it contains theophylline and bound
caffeine (sometimes called "theine"), although there are also decaffeinated teas.

There are tea ceremonies which have arisen in different cultures, Japan's complex,
formal and serene one being the most known. Other examples are the Korean tea
ceremony or some traditional ways of brewing tea in Chinese tea culture.

This section describes the most widespread method of making tea. Completely
different methods are used in North Africa, Tibet and perhaps in other places.

The best way to prepare tea is usually thought to be with loose tea placed either
directly in a teapot or contained in a tea infuser, rather than a teabag. However,
perfectly acceptable tea can be made with teabags. Some circumvent the teapot stage
altogether and brew the tea directly in a cup or mug. This method is becoming more
popular. For an acceptable quality, however, it is necessary to obey the rules for
preparation such as sufficient infusion time by placing the teabag in the cup before
pouring the hot water.

Historically in China, tea is divided into a number of infusions. The first infusion is
immediately poured out to wash the tea, and then the second and further infusions
are had. The third through fifth are nearly always considered the best infusions of tea,
although different teas open up differently and may require more infusions of boiling
water to bring them to life.

Typically, the best temperature for brewing tea can be determined by its type. Teas
that have little or no oxidation period, such as a green or white tea, are best brewed at
lower temperatures around 80 °C, while teas with longer oxidation periods should be
brewed at higher temperatures around 100 °C.


The water for black teas should be added at the boiling point (100 °C or 212 °F),
except for more delicate teas, where lower temperatures are recommended. This will
have as large an effect on the final flavour as the type of tea used. The most common
fault when making black tea is to use water at too low a temperature. Since boiling
point drops with altitude, this makes it difficult to brew black tea properly in
mountainous areas. It is also recommended that the teapot be warmed before
preparing tea, easily done by adding a small amount of boiling water to the pot,
swirling briefly, before discarding. Black tea should not be allowed to steep for less
than 30 seconds or more than about five minutes (a process known as brewing or
[dialectally] mashing in the UK). After that, tannin is released, which counteracts the
stimulating effect of the theophylline and caffeine and makes the tea bitter (at this
point it is referred to as being stewed in the UK). Therefore, for a "wake-up" tea, one
should not let the tea steep for more than 2- 3minutes. When the tea has brewed long
enough to suit the tastes of the drinker, it should be strained while serving.

Black tea infusion.


Water for green tea, according to most accounts, should be around 80 °C to 85 °C
(176 °F to 185 °F); the higher the quality of the leaves, the lower the temperature.
Hotter water will burn green-tea leaves, producing a bitter taste. Preferably, the
container in which the tea is steeped, the mug, or teapot should also be warmed
beforehand so that the tea does not immediately cool down.


Oolong teas should be brewed around 90 °C to 100 °C (194 °F to 212 °F), and again
the brewing vessel should be warmed before pouring in the water. Yixing purple clay
teapots are the ideal brewing vessel for oolong tea. For best results use spring water,
as the minerals in spring water tend to bring out more flavour in the tea.


Some teas, especially green teas and delicate Oolong or Darjeeling teas, are steeped
for shorter periods, sometimes less than 30 seconds. Using a tea strainer separates
the leaves from the water at the end of the brewing time if a tea bag is not being used.


In order to preserve the pre-tannin tea without requiring it all to be poured into cups,
a second teapot is employed. The steeping pot is best unglazed earthenware; Yixing
pots are the best known of these, famed for the high quality clay from which they are
made. The serving pot is generally porcelain, which retains the heat better. Larger
teapots are a post-19th-century invention, as tea before this time was very rare and
very expensive. Experienced tea-drinkers often insist that the tea should not be
stirred around while it is steeping (sometimes called winding in the UK). This, they
say, will do little to strengthen the tea, but is likely to bring the tannic acids out in the
same way that brewing too long will do. For the same reason one should not squeeze
the last drops out of a teabag; if stronger tea is desired, more tea leaves should be


Popular additives to tea include sugar or honey, lemon, milk, and fruit jams. Some
connoisseurs eschew cream because it overpowers the flavour of tea. The exception to

this rule is with very hearty teas such as the East Friesian blend. Milk, however, is
thought to neutralise remaining tannins and reduce acidity.

Sugar cubes ready to be added to a cup of teaWhen taking milk with tea, some add
the tea to the milk rather than the other way around when using chilled milk; this
avoids scalding the milk, leading to a better emulsion and nicer taste.15 The socially
'correct' order is tea, sugar, milk, but this convention was established before the
invention of the refrigerator. Adding the milk first also makes a milkier cup of tea
with sugar harder to dissolve as there will be no hot liquid in the cup. In addition, the
amount of milk used is normally determined by the colour of the tea, therefore milk is
added until the correct colour is obtained. If the milk is added first, more guesswork
is involved. Of course, if the tea is being brewed in a mug, the milk must be added
after the tea bag is removed. In colder regions such as Mongolia and Nepal, butter is
added to provide necessary calories.


Zen Buddhism is the root of the highly refined Japanese tea ceremony. The Chinese
province of Fujian is the origin of the Gong Fu tea ceremony, which is unrelated to
the martial art called Kung Fu though the characters are the same: literally "time-
energy" or something which takes a lot of time and energy. It features the rapid use of
tongs and various vessels to make tea. Loose leaf tea venders in China often use this
method to make tea for their customers. The Korean Tea Ceremony is more like the
Chinese ceremony.

In the United Kingdom, adding the milk first is historically considered a lower-class
method of preparing tea; the upper classes always add the milk last. The origin of this
distinction is said to be that the rougher earthenware mugs of the working class
would break if boiling-hot tea was added directly to them, whereas the fine glazed
china cups of the upper class would not. It is now considered by most to be a personal


Tea leaves are packed into a small (usually paper) tea bag. It is easy and convenient,
making tea bags popular for many people nowadays. However, because fannings and
dust from modern tea processing are also included in most tea bags, it is commonly
held among tea aficionados that this method provides an inferior taste and
experience. The paper used for the bag can also be tasted by many which can detract
from the tea's flavour.

Additional reasons why bag tea is considered less well-flavoured include:

         Dried tea loses its flavour quickly on exposure to air. Most bag teas (although
          not all) contain leaves broken into small pieces; the great surface-area-to-
          volume ratio of the leaves in tea bags exposes them to more air, and therefore

15   How to make a perfect cuppa. BBC News (2003-06-25). Retrieved on 2006-07-28.

       causes them to go stale faster. Loose tea leaves are likely to be in larger pieces,
       or to be entirely intact.
      Breaking up the leaves for bags extracts flavoured oils.
      Good loose-leaf teas tend to be vacuum-packed.


The tea leaves are packaged loosely in a canister or other container. The portions
must be individually measured by the consumer for use in a cup, mug or teapot. This
allows greater flexibility, letting the consumer brew weaker or stronger tea as desired,
but convenience is sacrificed. Strainers, "tea presses", filtered teapots and infusion
bags are available commercially to avoid having to drink the floating loose leaves. A
more traditional, yet perhaps more effective way around this problem is to use a
three-piece lidded teacup, called a gaiwan. The lid of the gaiwan can be tilted to
decant the leaves while pouring the tea into a different cup for consumption.


A lot of tea is still compressed for storage and aging convenience. Commonly Pu-Erh
tea is compressed and then drunk by loosening leaves off using a small knife. Most of
the time compressed tea can be stored longer than loose leaf tea.


One of the more modern forms of tea consumption, an alternative to the tea bag, is
tea sticks.

The first known tea sticks originated in Holland in the mid 1990's, where a company
by the name of Venezia Trading produced a tea stick named Ticolino. Ticolino are
dubbed as single serving tea sticks which use an infusing technology to brew the tea
leaves inside, releasing the flavour and aroma.


In recent times, "instant teas" are becoming popular, similar to freeze dried instant
coffee. Instant tea was developed in the 1930's, but not commercialized until the late
1950's, and is only more recently becoming popular. These products often come with
added flavours, such as vanilla, honey or fruit, and may also contain powdered milk.
Similar products also exist for instant iced tea, due to the convenience of not
requiring boiling water. Tea connoisseurs tend to criticise these products for
sacrificing the delicacies of tea flavour in exchange for convenience.

See also

      Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford
      Assam tea
      Bubble tea
      Capputeano
      Ceylon tea (disambiguation)

      Chinese tea culture
      Darjeeling tea
      Earl Grey, a blend of tea made with bergamot orange.
      English Breakfast tea
      The health benefits of tea
      Irish Breakfast tea
      Japanese tea ceremony
      Korean Tea Ceremony
      Lapsang souchong
      List of tea companies
      Orange Pekoe
      Peppermint tea
      Prince of Wales tea blend
      Rooibos
      Samovar
      Snapple
      Tazo
      Tea Classics


Jana Arcimovičová, Pavel Valíček (1998): Vůně čaje, Start Benešov. ISBN 80-
902005-9-1 (in Czech)

T. Yamamoto, M Kim, L R Juneja (editors): Chemistry and Applications of Green
Tea, CRC Press, ISBN 0-8493-4006-3

Lu Yu (陆羽): Cha Jing (茶经) (The classical book on tea). References are to Czech
translation of modern-day editon (1987) by Olga Lomová (translator): Kniha o čaji.
Spolek milců čaje, Praha, 2002. (in Czech)

John C. Evans (1992): Tea in China: The History of China's National
Drink,Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-28049-5

Kit Chow, Ione Kramer (1990): All the Tea in China, China Books & Periodicals Inc.
ISBN 0-8351-2194-1 References are to Czech translation by Michal Synek (1998):
Všechny čaje Číny, DharmaGaia Praha. ISBN 80-85905-48-5

Stephan Reimertz (1998): Vom Genuß des Tees : Eine eine heitere Reise durch alte
Landschaften, ehrwürdige Traditionen und moderne Verhältnisse, inklusive einer
kleinen Teeschule (In German)

Jane Pettigrew (2002), A Social History of Tea

Roy Moxham (2003), Tea: Addiction, Exploitation, and Empire

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