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Tea has a long and fascinating history full of Ancient legends and rituals, which makes this much loved drink a special part of many countries past and traditions.

Tea has played a significant role in Asian culture for centuries as a staple beverage, medicine, and status symbol. Despite tea’s popularity, there are probably a lot of things you didn’t know about this popular beverage.

The origins of tea dates back thousands of years, with ancient records indicating that tea was first consumed in China way back in 2737 BC by Emperor and herbalist Shennong. The legend has it that when a leaf from a nearby wild tea bush fell into the Emperors cup of drinking water he discovered a very refreshing drink that ‘gave joy to the body and sparkle to the eye’.

During the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE) tea became a popular drink. Tea was prepared differently to how we enjoy it now, it was compressed into bricks and ground into a powder with a stone mortar, then hot water was added. Bricks of tea were also used as currency.

During the Sui Dynasty (589-618 AD) tea was introduced to Japan by Buddhist monks. Green tea became a staple among cultured people in Japan, enjoyed by aristocracy and Buddhist priests alike. The tea ceremony of Japan (chanoyu) was introduced from China in the 15th century by Buddhists monks. This semi-religious social custom traditionally performed with matcha green tea, reflects on being in harmony with nature, purity, and tranquility.

Tea drinking is a symbol of Chinese culture and a respected custom. Today, China has 8 million tea growers and is the biggest producer of tea in the world.

Here are a few more interesting tea facts:

All tea comes from the same plant

All varieties of tea – white, green, and black – come from the same plant, camellia sinensis. To make the different varieties of tea the fresh tea leaves undergo different levels of oxidisation, which is a natural chemical reaction that produces a variety of different tastes and colour characteristics.

Not all tea is made equally

Whole tea leaves are considered higher quality than broken down tea ‘dust’, which is often used for tea bags. When you brew good quality whole leaves and herbs you not only get a richer, more full-flavoured tea, you also receive more health benefits from your cuppa. Choosing a good quality loose leaf tea is the best way to reap all the wonderful health benefits tea has to offer.

Beware of how your tea is packed

These days we are aware of the health risks associated with drinking out of plastic bottles and we are more aware of toxins than even, however we are still drinking out of tea bags.

A lot of paper tea bags are bleached, so if you put them in hot water you are essentially leaking traces of bleach into your healthy cup of tea. Many of the silk pyramid infusers are made with plastics, so then you essentially have the same issue as drinking out of a plastic bottle, you have potentially harmful chemicals leaking into your tea.

This is a great reason to stick to loose leaf teas, or look for natural biodegradable pyramid infusers.

White tea contains more antioxidants

White tea is considered a rare tea, as the young tea leaves can only be hand-picked for a short time each year, which makes it more expensive than other teas. Unlike black and green teas, white tea is simply air dried in natural sunlight, making it the least processed of all the teas. This preserves more of its antioxidant properties, about three times as many antioxidant polyphenois found in green tea and contains the least amount of caffeine.

Tea is the second most popular drink in the world

With exception of North America, which coffee or soft drink prevails, tea is the most common drink worldwide behind water.

What’s your favourite cup of tea? Please share in the comments below.

  • I don’t actually have a favourite tea. I drink a variety of teas – black, herbal etc.

    Reply

  • A very extensive article about tea, thanks for sharing :)

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  • Thanks for your article – I will be using my tea pot again. I didn’t know about the white tea – but will look for that in my local stores in full leaf for future use.

    Reply

  • I love my strong cup of black tea in the morning with a dash of milk. My evening go to is peppermint tea. It’s a great way to finish the day and our home has been able to replace the evening coffee with this.

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  • I love tea of fresh mint leaves out of my garden or fresh ginger bulb. When I use tea bags i drink Black Adder Liquorice tea (it has liquorice root, fennel seeds, peppermint and aniseed), so yum !

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  • Thank you for the useful information.I have never known about the white tea before.

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  • I love tea depending on my mood. Herbal tea can be so helpful for ailments or stress as well

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  • Interesting article. I didn’t know how useful white tea is.

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  • Not only that, and this will really shock you, some teabags actually contain gluten. If for have grain intolerance or Coelic Disease I suggest you check them.
    Some teas also contain caffeine as well as tanin.

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  • I had not thought about the tea bag bleach or plastic going into my cuppa before!

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  • Thanks for the wake up call! I’ll be getting out the tea pot again once I’ve finished all my tea bags. My Mum has never used a tea bag in her life so she has always insisted on loose tea & I have made her a real pot of tea when she visits. Just a shame about the tea leaves!

    Reply

  • Very interesting article – I learned things I didn’t know. I use tea bags 80% of the time, but now I will make more of an effort to use them 20% and loose tea leaves 80%. I always thought tea bags were ok, now I know the truth. Thank you for this article.

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  • Very interesting and informative article… rather worrying about the tea bags though. Darn they are sooo convenient.


    • My thoughts too – convenient and easy for trips too. :(

    Reply

  • Love this article about tea – so very interesting – thanks.

    Reply

  • love a good tea, white, bushels

    Reply

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