Sunday, February 9, 2014

Tea: From a Modest Beginning To a Global Phenomenon

So you’re a tea drinker with a good idea of the immense anti-oxidant properties. This ancient brew has cheers for you. It is woderful having this hot beverage to relax yourself at any point of day?

As science confirms many ancient beliefs about tea and the exact nature of anti-oxidants in the leaf. The leaf  began its sojourn along the track of human civilization as a modest infusion. Initially prepared from leaves of Camelia sinensis by Chinese and other Asian natives the brew has gained an enormous appeal. As a beverage of choice amid consumers worldwide they are increasing year by year.. It remains challenged in popularity only by coffee that still remains a favorite in US. But with entry into sections like canned options of iced-tea and combination with liquor continues to gain new flavors with time.

Tea: How It Is Sold

Tea is often sold in packages in different varieties- green, black, white, oolong, pu-erh, etc. You also find variations like organically grown blends, sweetened teas, ready-to-drink versions, canned beverage and  leaves sold in loose form.

The most popular tea in terms of high sales is black, followed closely by green leaf. England and India are the biggest consumers of black tea, followed closely by Europe, Japan, China and US, though China has its own variants that have lighter textures and unique flavors. North America has registered some of the highest growth in iced-tea drinking. This definitely indicates a sure consumer shift and heightened consumer interest in non-carbonated drinks.

Indian or Chinese?

Undoubtedly Indian and Chinese blends holds sway over a majority of global sales volumes. The Lapsang Souchong of China is the most famed amid the numerous other Chinese brands in use. Yunnan is another, grown and plucked from the Yunnan province.

The Indian tea considered best in quality and aroma is one grown in Darjeeling. It is liked for its light and delicate flavor. In contrast the Ceylon leaf is strong with a sharp aroma. Assam tea is strong and shows readiness to blending with other flavors. You find many Assam variants in market in India and elsewhere.

Darjeeling Orange Pekoe and Ceylon broken-orange Pekoe are highly in demand in England. China alone is reported to produce world’s 18 percent production. Parts of Asia like Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia also grow tea as does Kenya and other countries.

Popular Tea Blends

Earl Gray is a blend that combines a black tea with flavor of bergamot. It is smoky and aromatic with just the slightest touch of citrus. Usually Earl Gray is a blend of Indian with Ceylon leaves. Breakfast tea is stronger than Darjeeling and popular blends in this category are the English breakfast, Irish and Scottish Breakfast blends. If you like the aroma of jasmine try Jasmine tea which has a delicate flavor added of green leaf.

Different Tea Choices: Understanding Health Benefits & Flavor Variations

Tea has been one of the oldest beverages drunk up by man for relaxation and comfort. In cold weather a hot brew helps keep body warm and refreshes the mind from the day’s labors. Visit any grocery store and you’re sure to find a lot of tea brands as choices and some herbal infusions claiming to be herbal and healthy.
Do you want regular tea or one with little/no caffeine? Tea that’s classic in its flavor or one that’s infused with myriad other flavors like of fruits, spices or plant parts? You can get the finest blends in packages, loose form and in hygienic bags.
Such is the pull of this deeply flavored leaf that it has entered the cold beverages market with a storm and is fast finding its own niche in form of iced-teas and infused alcohol mixtures.
 Tea: What Is It Really?
You have to remember that only tea made from leaves of Camelia sinensis - a bush that originally grew in Asia and was used by Chinese  in earlier times as digestive tonic.  Other Asians also followed and used the leaves to prepare a hot beverage. .
There are variants of this plant depend on the climates where it is grown, the stage of growth when the leaf is plucked and the leaf size as also the processing it undergoes. So we have tea categorized as white, black, green and oolong.
These also have differing levels of antioxidants and other important ingredients. Green tea for instance has a higher catechin level than what you’d find in black leaf.  But it doesn’t have theaflavins as is found in black tea. Herbal infusions are essentially not considered ‘true’ teas.
 Green Tea: Benefits
The flavor of green leaf is attributed to presence of theanine and its texture is thanks to the catechins present. It is also the theanine that acts as mild relaxant while toning down effects of caffeine that lends a bitter taste to the flavor and helps improve alertness.
 White Tea: Why It Is Good?
White tea happens to have extremely low caffeine levels and is least processed of all the leaves. Great for people wanting to cut down on their caffeine! It is also the least oxidized and helps prevent heart problems, cancers and fight diabetes.
 Oolong Tea: A Digestive Aid
Oolong teas fluctuate in their oxidation levels from 20 to 80% and though higher in oxidation than green leaf have polyphenols which defend body against dementia, cancers and heart issues.
 Pu-erh: Uniquely Processed
Pu-erh tea leaves are the fermented, aged variation of regular leaves which is why it has a high flavonoid content and low caffeine level. Known to break down fats Pu-erh helps your stomach settle down after a heavy meal. You also get a metabolic boost by having this brew. So go on and get energized!