The past few months we published a series about the natural health teas YUM Eat Cafe serves its customers. Here a compilation of the different postings.
Enjoy reading and your tea of course.
“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.
The three main varieties of the tea plant, China, Assam and Cambodia, each occur in their most distinct form at the extremes of the fan-shaped area. There are an infinite number of hybrids between the varieties, such as crosses can be seen in almost any tea field.
The China variety, a multi-stemmed bush growing as high as 9 feet (2.75 metres), is a hardy plant able to withstand cold winters and has an economic life of at least 100 years. When grown at an altitude near that of Darjeeling and Ceylon, it produces teas with valuable flavour during the season’s second flush or growth of new shoots.
The Assam variety, a single-stem tree ranging from 20 to 60 feet (6 – 18 metres) in height and including several sub-varieties, has an economic life of 40 years with regular pruning and plucking. The tea planter recognizes five main sub-varieties: the tender light-leaved Assam, the less tender dark-leaved Assam, the hardy Manipuri and Burma types, and the very large leaved Lushai. In Upper Assam, the dark-leaved Assam plant, when its leaves are highly pubescent, produces very fine quality “golden tip” teas during its second flush. (The Chinese word pekho, meaning “white hair” or “down””, refers to the “tip” in tea, which is correlated with quality.)
The Cambodia variety, a single-stem tree growing to about 16 feet (5 metres) in height, is not cultivated but has been naturally crossed with other varieties.
The mature leaves of the tea plant, differing in form according to variety , range from 1 – 10 inches (3.8 – 25 cm) in length, the smallest being the China variety and the largest sub-variety. In harvesting, or plucking, the shoot removed usually includes the bud and the two youngest leaves. The weight of 2 000 freshly plucked China bush shoots may be one pound (454 g); the same number of Assam shoots may weigh two pounds (908 g). Tea leaves may be serrated, bullate, or smooth; stiff or flabby; the leaf pose ranges from erect to pendant; and the degree of pubescence varies widely from plant to plant.
Hand methods for the preparation of tea shoots, consisting of the young leaves and terminal leave bud, have their origin in antiquity. Tea is designated as black (fermented), green (unfermented), or oolong (semi-fermented), depending upon the process applied. Green tea is produced mainly in China, Japan and Taiwan, but 98 percent of the international trade is in black tea.
When black tea is made by the small producer, the leaf is plucked on a clear day after the dew is gone, exposed to the sun and air for at least an hour, then lightly rolled on a table to develop a red colour and an aroma. The leaves are heated in a hot iron pan, rolled, heated several additional times, and finally dried in a basket over a charcoal fire. With China mechanizing its industry, China teas may retrieve their importance in the world markets.
In China, green tea is made by heating the freshly plucked leaves in an iron pan for a few minutes, causing the leaves to turn yellow, inactivating the enzymes, and killing the leaves. It is then hand rolled and given further roastings, which turn it to olive green and then to a bluish tint. In Japan, where most of the crop is made into green tea, the leaf is heated by steam, and modern machines perform the rolling and drying.
Oolong, semi-fermented tea, is prepared in South China and Taiwan from a special form of China plant, chesima, that gives this tea unique flavour. Preparation is similar to that followed in making China black tea. Both China and oolong teas are sometimes scented with flowers, such as Jasmine.
Brick tea, made in China for export to inner Asia, is of little importance in world trade. It may consist of leaf, stalk and even twigs, or mainly of tea dust and fannings (coarse tea dust). The bulk is softened with steam and then compressed into blocks or bricks.
In Burma, Thailand and China, the tea leaf may be pickled and the product, which is calledlappet-so, eaten as a vegetable.
When tea cultivation began in Assam, Chinese growers came to instruct the planters in leaf preparation, It was soon apparent that village hand methods were not suited to plantation work, and new processing methods were developed. In the new withering process, the leaves were spread on trays and left overnight, then rolled only once, and spread on the floor to ferment. Drying began in a hot iron pan and was finished on trays placed over a charcoal fire. Hand rolling required the greatest amount of labour. The modern mechanical roller was developed in Assam in 1887. In the same year drying machines were produced in which the rolled, fermented leaf, spread on moving metal trays, was subjected to hot air currents. By 1890 the tea factory had replaced the tea house. The leaf, withered, or dehydrated, on racks for 18 hours, was then machine rolled for about an hour, fermented in a cool, humid room for three to four hours (including the rolling period); then dried by machine firing. Mechanical sorting or grading was carried out on wire mesh trays. Six or more grades were produced, ranging in size from the unbroken orange pekoe to the smaller broken grades, fannings, and dust.
Tea leave withering or wilting has always presented difficulties. Controlled loft withering was studied in Ceylon, but it was not until 1958 that trough withering was invented in the Congo. In the trough method conditioned air is forced through a 20 cm layer of leaf, producing an even wither. In the loft method the leaf is spread thinly, producing a wither that varies widely from rack to rack. In Assam 100 parts of fresh leaf may lose 30 parts of water during the wither, whereas in Sri Lanka the loss may be as much as 45 parts
In Assam, where natural conditions often discourage withering, the loft is impractical; rolling frequently has to be performed on unwithered leaf prior to the invention of the trough. Unwithered leaf does not roll well, and in 1925 the “”unorthodox” procedure was instituted, in which a Legg tobacco cutter was used to shred fresh leaf. This method makes a cut out 0.08 cm wide, distorting most of the leaf cells, and is followed by a short roll, a brief fermentation period, and firing.
A CTC (crushing, tearing and curling) machine was invented in Assam in 1930. Normally withered leaf is given a short, light roll, then put through the machine. Two engraved rollers, one making 70 rpm and the other, 700, distort the leaf in a fraction of a second. Other machines producing rapid and full leaf distortion have also been perfected. The unorthodox method is currently applied to 70 percent of the tea manufactured in northeast India, and the method is also prevalent in several other countries. The grades of tea produced are mainly dust and fannings, with some brokens.
The tea is machine fired, and on the following day it is sorted into grades. It is then stored in bins until a sufficient amount accumulates to make up an invoice of about 60 to 240 chests. Tea chests, made of three-ply wood and lined with aluminium foil and rice paper, hold 36 to 50 kg of tea.
A cup of South African Rooibos Tea is an excellent start of this year.
In 1772, Swedish naturalist Carl Thunberg noted, “the country people made tea” from a plant related to rooibos or redbush. Traditionally, the local people would climb the mountains and cut the fine, needle-like leaves from wild rooibos plants. They then rolled the bunches of leaves into hessian bags and brought them down the steep slopes using donkeys. The leaves were then chopped with axes and bruised with hammers, before being left to dry in the sun.
Dutch settlers to the Cape learned to drink rooibos as an alternative to black tea, an expensive commodity for the settlers who relied on supply ships from Europe.
In 1904, Benjamin Ginsberg ran a variety of experiments at Rondegat Farm, finally curing rooibos. He simulated the traditional Chinese method of making Keemun by fermenting the tea in barrels. The major hurdle in growing rooibos tea commercially was that farmers could not germinate the rooibos tea seeds. The seeds were hard to find and impossible to germinate commercially.
In 1930 District Surgeon and botanist Dr Pieter Le Fras Nortier Rhodes scholar recognising the valuable medicinal and curative properties of rooibos tea, began conducting experiments with the cultivation of the rooibos tea plant. Dr Nortier also saw the vast commercial potential the tea held for the region.
Dr Nortier cultivated the first plants at Clanwilliam on his farm Eastside and on the farm Klein Kliphuis. The tiny seeds were very difficult to come by. Dr Nortier paid the local villagers £5 per matchbox of seeds collected. An aged Khoi woman found an unusual seed source: having chanced upon ants dragging seed, she followed them back to their nest and, on breaking it open, found a granary. Dr. Nortier’s research was ultimately successful and he subsequently showed all the local farmers how to germinate their own seeds. The secret lay in scarifying the seed pods. Dr Nortier placed a layer of seeds between two mill stones and ground away some of the seed pod wall. Thereafter the seeds were easily propagated. Over the next decade the price of seeds soared to an astounding £80 a pound, the most expensive vegetable seed in the world, as farmers rushed to plant rooibos tea. Today, the seed is gathered by special sifting processes. Dr Nortier is today accepted as the father of the rooibos tea industry. Thanks to his research, rooibos tea, originally just an indigenous drink, became an iconic national beverage and then a globalized commodity recognised for its unique health properties. Rooibos tea production is today the economic mainstay of the Clanwilliam district. In 1948 The University of Stellenbosch awarded Dr Nortier an Honorary Doctorate D.Sc (Agria) in recognition for his valuable contribution to South African agriculture.
Yum Eat Cafe serves two different Rooibos teas each with its own distinctive taste; Rooibos Mocca and Rooibos Shangrila.
Today it’s Red Berry Tea Day; a very refreshing herbal infusion tea. See the label in the picture for the contents….
YUM Eat Cafe serves 3 different Ceylon teas; each with their own characteristics.
Ceylon black tea is one of the country’s specialities. It has a crisp aroma reminiscent of citrus, and is used both unmixed and in blends. It is grown on numerous estates which vary in altitude and taste.
- Ceylon green tea
Ceylon green tea is mainly made from Assamese tea stock. It is grown in Idalgashinna in Uva Province. Ceylon green teas generally have the fuller body and the more pungent, rather malty, nutty flavour characteristic of the teas originating from Assamese seed stock. The tea grade names of most Ceylon green teas reflect traditional Chinese green tea nomenclature, such as tightly rolled gunpowder tea, or more open leaf tea grades with Chinese names like Chun Mee. Overall, the green teas from Sri Lanka have their own characteristics at this time – they tend to be darker in both the dry and infused leaf, and their flavour is richer; this could change in the future. As market demand preferences change, the Ceylon green tea producers start using more of the original Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese and Brazilian seed base, which produces the very light and sparkling bright yellow colour and more delicate, sweet flavour with which most of the world market associates green teas. At this time, Sri Lanka remains a very minor producer of green teas and its green teas, like those of India and Kenya, remain an acquired taste. Much of the green tea produced in Sri Lanka is exported to North Africa and Middle Eastern markets.
- Ceylon white tea
Ceylon white tea, also known as “silver tips” is highly prized, and prices per kilogram are significantly higher than other teas. The tea was first grown at Nuwara Eliya near Adam’s Peak between 2,200–2,500 meters (7,218–8,202 ft). The tea is grown, harvested and rolled by hand with the leaves dried and withered in the sun. It has a delicate, very light liquoring with notes of pine & honey and a golden coppery infusion. ‘Virgin White Tea’ is also grown at the Handunugoda Tea Estate near Galle in the south of Sri Lanka.
Today is a typical day for African Delight. It inspires your senses, invigorates your mind and brightens your day. A tea of every day.
Lemongrass is widely used as a culinary herb in Asian cuisine and also as medicinal herb in India. It has a subtle citrus flavor and can be dried and powdered, or used fresh. It is commonly used in teas, soups, and curries. It is also suitable for use with poultry, fish, beef, and seafood. It is often used as a tea in African countries such as Togo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Latin American countries such as Mexico. In combination with other natural additives such as pine apple, coconut and diverse herbs it has a wide range of positive effects on the human body. Have a look on the labels.
The main ingredient, cherry blossoms petals, are harvested when the cherry trees bloom from mid to late spring. After the calyxes are removed, the petals are then pickled in plum vinegar and salt and the product subsequently dried. The dried cherry blossoms are then stored or sealed in tea packets and sold.
In order to produce sakurayu, a few such dried, salt-pickled blossoms must be sprinkled into a cup of hot water. Once covered in hot water, the collapsed petals unfurl and float.The herbal tea is then allowed to steep until the flavor reaches its desired intensity. The resulting drink tastes slightly salty.
“Sakurayu” is served at weddings as it represents “beginning” .
Chamomile, meaning ‘ground apple,’ has been imbibed for centuries in the Roman Empire, during Egyptian rule, and in ancient Greece. Prized for its special flavanoids, chrysin, chamomile (Matricaria recutita, or Matricaria chamomilla) offers numerous health-boosting benefits. Here are 9 amazing health benefits of chamomile tea that every foodie should know about.
Chamomile is known as a ‘tisane’ is any non-caffeinated herbal concoction made by pouring hot water over the leaves, stems, and roots of plants. You can make your own chamomile tea with other plants like lavender or tulsi to vary the flavour, or drink it alone.
There are many applications for dried chamomile including tinctures and essential oils though the easiest and most often used is an infusion or tea. For stomach ailments, muscle spasms, and help in falling asleep, use about one tablespoon of dried herb per cup of water. Pour boiling water over the herbs and allow to steep for about 5 minutes. Strain and enjoy.
If you’re a tea drinker, you may have heard of or tried Earl Grey tea, a blend of different Chinese teas with some added citrus flavour. Named for a 19th-century English prime minister, Earl Charles Grey, it’s a flavourful, aromatic blend that could also provide significant health benefits because of its content of natural, biologically active compounds.
English breakfast tea is a classic black tea blend made from Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan teas. Each black tea variety has an individual flavor profile, but all are are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant, which also produces the leaves for Oolong and green teas. Tea drinkers have English breakfast tea any time of the day, despite its name, and it’s commonly served with milk or with lemon and sugar. The full taste and richness of the tea take well to the added sweetness and cream. As a black tea, English breakfast is high in antioxidants, which provide a number of health benefits.
Ginger glace tea flavour enhanced by sweet flowers, this ginger drink is infused with noticeable fragrances of orange blossom.
See the label:
Sencha Champagne Strawberry Truffle Tea is a green tea blend. Truffle chocolate and flavourings make this one of the most delicious green teas.
A surprise tea this White diamond; fruity creamy peach taste.