Indians consume 837,000 tonnes of tea every year. It is the most common taste of India. India is the second largest producer of tea in the world after China, and tea manufacturing and consumption in India is three times more than that of coffee in India. Offering tea is a token of hospitality in India. Every sip of tea provides you energy and comfort like nothing else. It is not less than an energy drink and women in India cannot do without tea. Tea is more than just a drink; it is the elixir for life. There’s no time like tea time! We bring you some amazing facts that you didn’t know about tea.
10. Types of Tea
Though there is a variety of tea available in the market now, tea is known to have four major types- black, green, white and oolong. All these varieties of tea come from one plant, Camellia sinensis. The treatment of the tea leaves leads to the creation of different varieties of tea. For instance, black tea is highly fermented while white tea is minimally processed. The difference in processing methods leads to a vast difference in taste and appearance. Sri Lanka specialises in black tea production. No wonder tea is the most consumed beverage in the world, second only to water.
9. Invention of Tea Bags
Did you know that tea bags were invented accidentally? 96% of the total cups of tea consumed in the UK are brewed from tea bags. Thomas Sullivan is known to have invented the tea bag accidentally in America in the early twentieth century. Sullivan was a New York tea merchant, who, around 1908 started to sell samples of tea in small silken bags. Not knowing the perfect way to use it, some people thought that it was to be used as an infuser, rather than emptying out its contents in a tea pot. That is how the tea bag, as we know it today, was born.
8. Health Benefits
There are actually numerous health benefits of the second most consumed drink in the world. Tea can help regulate your blood sugar levels, balance your hormones and help you have a sound sleep at night. Tea is known to have a lesser amount of caffeine than coffee and is also rich in antioxidants. It not only helps with weight loss but also helps boost the immune system and may help battle cancer. Tea also helps to keep your body hydrated and create a calmer and more alert state of mind. With so many benefits and so many that haven’t even been mentioned, why don’t you go and grab your cup of tea?
7. Tea Farming
A lot of effort goes behind providing you the cup of tea that you devour. Most of the tea that we drink is grown in farms. A single pound of tea requires around 2,000 individual tea leaves and each tea bush must be grown up to 3 years before its leaves can be harvested. Tea plant requires year long maintenance and the bushes are prevented from growing into trees by trimming them regularly. If they’re not trimmed, the branches may grow too far sideways. The plantations on which tea is harvested are usually known as ‘estates’ or ‘gardens’. Tea leaves are almost exclusively handpicked.
6. Tea as a Medicine
Much before tea was relished as a beverage, it was used solely for medicinal purposes. In ancient times, the Chinese used to add herbs and at times even onion to enhance its natural nourishing properties before the purist Lu Yu made it famous as a beverage to be enjoyed without enhancements. To this date, the medicinal benefits cannot be ignored. Tea is known to improve your teeth by inhibiting the plaque forming ability of oral bacteria and can help freshen your breath. Tea is also known to be good for the skin as it reduces oiliness and helps tighten the skin.
5. Tea Culture
Tea has become so much a part of our lives, that a ‘tea culture’ has been developed- a culture that revolves around a beverage! Tea culture usually means the aesthetics surrounding tea drinking which include the way tea is made and consumed, tea brewing and tea ceremonies. Afternoon tea was a custom that was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in 1840. Gradually, this pause for tea at around 4 or 5 pm in the evening became a fashionable social event. Tea drinking tradition has evolved in various ways in different countries but one thing that remains the same is the love for tea!
4. Tea Houses
It is difficult to talk about tea without talking about the ancient tea houses. Tea houses or Tearooms are infrastructures and social spaces designed for people to gather and drink tea and for other activities. A primary purpose of tea houses was to socialise. It also provided a space for women to get out of their houses without their husbands and gather to socialise around tea in an era when it was forbidden for women to venture out of their houses without male members of the house. Tea rooms became popular in China, Japan and eighteenth century Britain. Till date, China boasts of the best tea houses in the world.
3. Tea Etiquette
There’s an entire etiquette that revolves around tea drinking. Usually, the ideal time for afternoon tea is four o’ clock. Along with a variety of tea, three different courses are also served namely, tea sandwiches, scones and finally pastries. There should be two people who would be the ‘pourers’. A schedule should be set up as to when each will be ‘on duty’ to dispense tea. It is considered an honour to be asked to pour tea, because the pourer is considered as the ‘guardian’ of the teapot. The etiquette also revolves around the tea equipment, guest of honour, how to hold cups and saucers and the use of napkins.
2. Invention of Iced Tea
The credit for inventing iced tea goes to Richard Blechynden. Invented at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, iced tea has become one of the most loved beverages. With time, iced tea has not only evolved into a popular packaged drink, but is also available in various flavors such as raspberry, lemon, peach, passion fruit, strawberry, cherry etc. It was on a hot summer day in June at the World Fair, when Richard Blechynden’s hopes for a successful tea party were dashed. In the sweltering heat, no one was willing to consume hot tea. It was then that an idea struck him and he thought of adding ice to the hot brewed tea. The cold beverage was an instant hit and the iced tea was born!
1. Producers and Consumers of Tea
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation statistics for global production from 1993-2013, China is the largest producer of tea in the world. In 2013 alone, it produced about 30-35% of the total amount of tea produced in the world in that year. This doesn’t come as a surprise, for tea is consumed both as a beverage and as a medicine in China. The second largest producer is India, producing an average of 900,000 tonnes of tea a year. Tea is the national drink of Iran and Afghanistan. Turkey, Ireland and United Kingdom are known to have the largest amount of tea drinkers. Clearly, tea isn’t just a beverage; it is a way of life!