Tea!?

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Photo Credit: Barta IV

With the increasing popularity of the beverage worldwide there has recently been a lot of confusion around the word ‘tea.’  Today, large and small corporations alike try to muddle the word ‘tea’ by labeling a variety of steeped beverages under the word.  However, tea in the original sense comes from the Camellia Sinensis.  The Camellia Sinensis is a broad-leafed perennial evergreen plant that most commonly resembles a large leafed bush but can and does also grow into large trees over hundreds of years, originating in South Western China.

Everything else that tea companies place under the ‘tea’ label is a tisane.  Some companies call these herbal teas, or simply miss label them as tea.  However, making the distinction between teas and tisanes is a crucial first step in understanding tea outside of the market sphere and learning to appreciate tea, tea culture, and tea history.

The different types of true tea, as in tea from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis, are White tea, Yellow tea, Green tea, Oolong tea, Black tea, and Pu-erh tea.  These types of tea are distinguishable by and dependent on a multitude of factors that include location, treatment while growing, and certain processes that the tea leaves undergo before and after harvest.

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