The Tea Tree, with its Latin name, Camellia Sinensis, is an evergreen tree cultivated in hot and humid regions, with an alternation of sun and rain distributed throughout the year.
Mainly cultivated at medium and high altitudes (sometimes more than 2,000 meters), the tea tree is cut at about 1 meter high to facilitate the picking and can reach a density of 10,000 plants per hectare in the plantations, which are called Gardens.
Regularly centenary, it begins to produce between its third and fifth year once planted.
Production and consumption
Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world after...water! Nearly 15,000 cups of tea are drunk every second.
In 2004 the world production of tea was nearly 5.4 million tons. While industrial production (mechanical tea harvesting) and small, high-quality gardens and factories must be distinguished, the main tea-producing countries are:
China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Turkey.
Although it does not directly produce any natural tea, France is famous for the quality of its flavored teas that make the happiness of lovers all over the world, even in countries producing great tradition.
In France still, 6 out of 10 people drink tea, and it is nearly 15,000 tons of tea that are consumed each year, or about 230 g per person, far behind many countries.
However, despite a low-quality image brought by decades of industrial tea bags, France is finally opening up to quality teas (formerly reserved for the elites of big cities) and, thanks to a handful of enthusiasts, rediscover the assets of this popular drink combining pleasures, flavors, health virtues, culture, ....
The main types of tea
To tell the truth, even if there are several varieties of tea, there is no green tea and other black tea. The difference is in the manufacture, in the way we will treat the tea, with or without fermentation, in what proportion, and with what processing cycle...
- green tea (unfermented)
- black tea (fermented)
- Oolong tea (semi-fermented)
- Pu Erh (post-fermented)
- white teas (buds)
- flavoured teas
- The specialties:Each producing region has a local specialty elaborated with ancestral methods. Among the most original and best known, we find for example: smoked teas, genmaicha (green tea with rice soufflé), matcha, carved teas
- The Rooibos:With its African nickname which means “red bush”, the rooibos is a bush that grows in South Africa in the Cederberg region. By extension, it is also called “red tea” when it is not. Indeed, rooibos is a plant. It has been democratizing in Europe for a few years now and is increasingly popular with fans because it does not contain any teas and is therefore an excellent alternative to coffee or tea. Rooibos is eaten hot as well as cold and sometimes even comes with milk!
Ranks of Tea
Like good wine, tea has a 'grade'. These grades are used for natural teas, and mainly for teas coming from India. Other regions have also adopted this grade system for tea. Still others use different rankings that are their own (fine, finest, special, etc...).
- Dust: tea dust for tea in bags
- Fanning: crushed leaves
- B.O.P: Broken Orange Pekoe, broken leaves
- O.P. Orange Pekoe, mature leaves at late harvest
- F.O.P. Flowery Orange Pekoe, young leaves with fluffy buds
- G.F.O.P: Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, F.O.P with more “Tips” (golden leaves)
- T.G.F.O.P. Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, FOP with all leaves golden
- F.T.G.F.O.P. Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, the highest quality.
The number 1 is sometimes found after the grades, which indicates a higher quality in the grade (ex: Ceylon OP1 Berubeula).
The word Orange contained in the appellation of the grades of tea does not indicate in any way a tea perfumed with citrus fruits, but refers to the Royal Dutch Family of Orange-Nassau which initiated the regular maritime trade with the Indies, and especially that of tea.
Tea : a social rite
All over the world, tea time is a special moment...
Whether it is offered to a guest, whether we drink it with family or friends or at various ceremonies, tea is above all an important social rite that each community has been able to appropriate and integrate as a strong cultural element.
Each country, region, ethny, and even each village has developed a relationship with the tea that is its own, and it is perhaps one of the great interests of this drink that go along with the discovery of other cultures.
Some ceremonies are famous all over the world as is the case of the Japanese ceremony of Beaten tea (Chanoyu), or the Chinese ceremony of Gong Fu Cha with multiple successive infusions.
Other tea ceremonies correspond to religious, even shamanic, initiatory or symbolic rites. Yet, one thing common to all these tea rites is the notion of appeasement, respect, honor made to the host who makes it an event, particularly conducive to exchanges and listening.
The mint tea offered to you in the Maghreb is a sign of universal hospitality, just like the British Five o'Clock Tea where it will be good to exchange ideas and points of view.
Universal, cultural, bearer of the wealth of difference and sharing, tea is a world heritage, gastronomic and social.
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