Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why I gave the Sopranos tea today.

Well half the sopranos in my choir is sick and when they're sick, they can't sing. And when they can't sing, we all sound bad. Plus they've been sick for pretty much two weeks. So I brought in tea today. And while I was making the tea, I noticed that on the containers for the tea I was using had weird words in the flavors; words like, "oolong" and "rooibos".

So I decided to do some research on these words and to share my findings with you.

What is tea exactly? And where did we get it from?
Okay first of all, I went to some kind of tea party a while back and learned more than I ever wanted to about tea. And tonight, I'm going to do that to you.

Of the four major types of tea (white, green, black and oolong; more on that later), they all come from the same type of plant. The camellia sinensis. What makes these teas different from each other is how they are processed (steamed, fermented (oxidized), dried, or bruised). Tea is said to have been discovered by a Chinese emperor when the leaves of the plant fell into his water. Accordiong to Planet Tea:
The evergreen tea plant, also known as Camellia Sinensis or Camellia Assamica, comes from the genus Camellia, which dates back before the great ice age. If left wild, the tea tree can grow as tall as 60 feet, depending on the climate. There is even a 1700-year-old tea tree in the Yunnan Province of China that stands over 100 feet tall. 

Today, the tea plant, also known as the "tea bush," is pruned and harvested, and its height is maintained at about three feet. This tea bush is the standard for most of today's tea cultivation due to its richer and fuller leaves. There are even some people who say that tea is the oldest cultivated plant, having been nurtured for over 1000 years.
Types of Tea and it's benefits. 
  • Green tea- Made by steaming to prevent the minimal amount of oxidation that will occur during procressing. It's dried but not fermented. Becuse of it's shorter prcressing than black tea, it gives it a lighter flavor. Plus it keeps the beneficial elements intact which explains why it's good for you. Green tea contains some caffenie but signifigantly less than others. Green tea can help prevent many types of cancers, burn fat, counteract stress on the brain, reduce risks of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels. 
  • Black tea- Mad with fermented (fully oxidized) leaves and bruised as the go through the procress. It has the highest amount of caffeine in it, up to three times the amount of other teas. Or 20% the amount of caffeine found in coffee. Studies have shown that it may protect the lungs from cancer caused by cigarette smoke. It also may help reduce the risks of stroke. 
  • White tea- This type is made from the buds and the younger leaves of the Chinese type of the tea plant. The buds and leaves are allowed to wither in natural sunlight before being slightly processed to prevent oxidation. The name comes from the fine white hairs on the unopened buds. White tea contains very little caffeine and it is also the rarest and most expensive tea type. Studies show that it is the most effective type of tea against cancer. 
  • Oolong tea- There are two ways to describe this type. One is the "green" while the other is the "amber" type. The "amber" is differnt from the "green" type in that it is allowed to oxidize longer. The color of this type is yellow. It is found to lower cholesterol levels. 
  • Pu-erh tea- Is made from post-fermentation in which the leaves are go through a microbial fermentation procress after they are dried and rolled. Its leaves are also pressed into a cake. This is a specialty of China teas and is also referred as dark tea or another type of black tea. Pu-erh is regarded as the best of the teas in its ability to slim the body and get rid of fat. It is also said to reduce cholesterol. 
  • Rooibos tea (pronounced ROY-BOSS, ROY-BUS or ROY-BOSE)- This kinda is flavorful and caffeine free. It is also called "red tea" as it is made from the Aspalathus Linearis (or red bush) plant which grows only in a region of South Africa. But because it does not come from the Camillia Sinensis plant like the other teas, it is considered a herbal drink. The leaves are oxidized which gives its reddish brown color. 
  • Herbel "teas"- This type is sometimes referred to a Tisane (pronounced tea-zahn)  or "infusion", because it is not made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis. Typically, this type is a combination of dried herbs, flowers, or fruit. From Let's Do Tea (the company I get my tea from sometimes):
Types of Tisanes

• Leaf tisanes: lemon balm, mint, lemongrass, nettle, mistletoe, birch, ginkgo and verbena
• Flower tisanes: rose, camomile, mallow, hibiscus, sunflower, marigold, elderflowers, passion flowers and lavender
• Fruit/berry tisane: raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, juniper berries and apples
• Seed/spice tisanes: cardamom, cloves, aniseed, caraway, thyme and fennel
• Root tisanes: ginger, valerian, & ginseng
• Bark tisanes: cinnamon
The Daily Mind- The Types, Benefits, and Problems of Tea.
Let's Do Tea- Types of Tea
Imperial Garden- Types of Tea
Planet Tea
WebMD- Tea Types and their Benefits

What are your favorite types of tea? Did I give you more than you ever wanted to know about tea?


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