“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ― C.S. Lewis
Beverage produced by steeping top leaves and buds of the tea plant in freshly boiled water. It originated in China about 2700 BC, possibly because of the need to boil drinking water for health reasons. Cultivating of the tea plant in Japan began about AD 800. The use of tea later spread to other Asiatic countries and by the first half of the 18th century, tea was a popular beverage in Holland, England and the American Colonies.
The major types of tea classified according to processing method include black tea, producing an amber coloured full flavoured beverage without bitterness; oolong, producing a slightly bitter, light brownish green liquid; and green tea resulting in a mild, slightly bitter, pale greenish yellow beverage.
Tea is commonly sold in loose form, in filter paper tea bags or in soluble form.
Teabags were introduced by Thomas Sullivan, a New York wholesaler who sent tea samples to his customers in small silk bags instead of the usual tins.
Tea contains only four calories per cup when consumed without added ingredients but is a source of several B-complex vitamins including B2 and nicotinic acid. It contains caffeine which is responsible for its stimulating effect. Flavour is produced by volatile oils, and astringency by tannin. Astringency and flavour development increase with length of steeping period. Although some varieties produce colour quickly, satisfactory flavour development requires 3 – 5 minutes of steeping to achieve the desired maximum caffeine extraction and moderate amount of tannin.
Rooibos tea grows in the clean mountain air on the slopes of the Cederberg in the Western Cape.
The bushes, once harvested, are dried by the African sun to create a tea distinguished by its rich auburn colour, it warm aromatic fragrance and strength of flavour. Rooibos is naturally caffeine free and contains polyphenols, a beneficial antioxidant.