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Longjing tea steeping in gaiwan.jpg
Longjing green tea being infused in a gaiwan
TypeHot or cold beverage
Country of originChina [1]
IntroducedFirst recorded in China in 59 BC, though probably originated earlier [2]
Tea plant (Camellia sinensis) from Kohler's Medicinal Plants, 1897 Camellia sinensis - Kohler-s Medizinal-Pflanzen-025.jpg
Tea plant (Camellia sinensis) from Köhler's Medicinal Plants , 1897
Tea plant Camellia sinensis (Boltz Conservatory).JPG
Tea plant

Tea is an aromatic beverage commonly prepared by pouring hot or boiling water over cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis , an evergreen shrub (bush) native to East Asia. [3] After water, it is the most widely consumed drink in the world. [4] There are many different types of tea; some, like Darjeeling and Chinese greens, have a cooling, slightly bitter, and astringent flavour, [5] while others have vastly different profiles that include sweet, nutty, floral or grassy notes.

Curing (food preservation) Food preservation and flavoring processes based on drawing moisture out of the food by osmosis

Curing is any of various food preservation and flavoring processes of foods such as meat, fish and vegetables, by the addition of salt, with the aim of drawing moisture out of the food by the process of osmosis. Because curing increases the solute concentration in the food and hence decreases its water potential, the food becomes inhospitable for the microbe growth that causes food spoilage. Curing can be traced back to antiquity, and was the primary way of preserving meat and fish until the late-19th century. Dehydration was the earliest form of food curing. Many curing processes also involve smoking, spicing, cooking, or the addition of combinations of sugar, nitrate, nitrite.

<i>Camellia sinensis</i> species of plant

Camellia sinensis is a species of evergreen shrub or small tree whose leaves and leaf buds are used to produce tea. It is of the genus Camellia of flowering plants in the family Theaceae. Common names include "tea plant", "tea shrub", and "tea tree".

Evergreen plant that has leaves in all four seasons

In botany, an evergreen is a plant that has leaves throughout the year that are always green. This is true even if the plant retains its foliage only in warm climates, and contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season.


Tea originated in Southwest China during the Shang dynasty, where it was used as a medicinal drink. [6] An early credible record of tea drinking dates to the 3rd century AD, in a medical text written by Hua Tuo. [7] It was popularized as a recreational drink during the Chinese Tang dynasty, and tea drinking spread to other East Asian countries. Portuguese priests and merchants introduced it to Europe during the 16th century. [8] During the 17th century, drinking tea became fashionable among Britons, who started large-scale production and commercialization of the plant in India. Combined, China and India supplied 62% of the world's tea in 2016.

Southwest China Geographical region

Southwest China is a region of the People's Republic of China defined by governmental bureaus that includes the municipality of Chongqing, the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou, and the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Shang dynasty First directly-attested dynasty in Chinese history

The Shang dynasty, also historically known as the Yin dynasty, was a Chinese dynasty that ruled in the Lower Yellow River Valley in the second millennium BC, succeeding the semi-mythical Xia dynasty and followed by the Zhou dynasty. The classic account of the Shang comes from texts such as the Book of Documents, Bamboo Annals and Records of the Grand Historian. According to the traditional chronology based on calculations made approximately 2,000 years ago by Liu Xin, the Shang ruled from 1766 to 1122 BC, but according to the chronology based upon the "current text" of Bamboo Annals, they ruled from 1556 to 1046 BC. The state-sponsored Xia–Shang–Zhou Chronology Project dated them from c. 1600 to 1046 BC based on the carbon 14 dates of the Erligang site.

Traditional Chinese medicine Medicine system that purports to have been developed in China over more than 3000 years

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a branch of traditional medicine that is said to be based on more than 3,500 years of Chinese medical practice that includes various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, cupping therapy, gua sha, massage, bonesetter (die-da), exercise (qigong), and dietary therapy, but recently also influenced by modern Western medicine. TCM is widely used in the Sinosphere where it has a long history, and in later years it is also increasingly practiced across the globe. One of the basic tenets of TCM is that the body's vital energy is circulating through channels, called meridians, that have branches connected to bodily organs and functions." The existence of vital energy is not scientifically verified. Concepts of the body and of disease used in TCM reflect its ancient origins and its emphasis on dynamic processes over material structure, similar to European humoral theory.

The term herbal tea refers to drinks not made from Camellia sinensis: infusions of fruit, leaves, or other parts of the plant, such as steeps of rosehip, chamomile, or rooibos. These are sometimes [9] called tisanes or herbal infusions to prevent confusion with tea made from the tea plant.

Herbal tea beverage made from the infusion or decoction of herbs, spices, or other plant material in hot water

Herbal teas—less commonly called tisanes —are beverages made from the infusion or decoction of herbs, spices, or other plant material in hot water. Perhaps some of the most known tisanes are actual, true teas, which are prepared from the cured leaves of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. Besides coffee and true teas, most other tisanes do not contain caffeine.

Infusion process of extracting chemical compounds or flavors from plant material in a solvent

Infusion is the process of extracting chemical compounds or flavors from plant material in a solvent such as water, oil or alcohol, by allowing the material to remain suspended in the solvent over time. An infusion is also the name for the resultant liquid. The process of infusion is distinct from both decoction—a method of extraction involving boiling the plant material—and percolation, in which water is passed through the material.

Plant anatomy Study of the internal structure of plants

Plant anatomy or phytotomy is the general term for the study of the internal structure of plants. Originally it included plant morphology, the description of the physical form and external structure of plants, but since the mid-20th century plant anatomy has been considered a separate field referring only to internal plant structure. Plant anatomy is now frequently investigated at the cellular level, and often involves the sectioning of tissues and microscopy.


The Chinese character for tea is , originally written with an extra stroke as (pronounced , used as a word for a bitter herb), and acquired its current form during the Tang Dynasty. [10] [11] [12] The word is pronounced differently in the different varieties of Chinese, such as chá in Mandarin, zo and dzo in Wu Chinese, and ta and te in Min Chinese. [13] One suggestion is that the different pronunciations may have arisen from the different words for tea in ancient China, for example (荼) may have given rise to ; [14] historical phonologists however argued that the cha, te and dzo all arose from the same root with a reconstructed pronunciation dra, which changed due to sound shift through the centuries. [15] There were other ancient words for tea, though ming () is the only other one still in common use. [15] [16] It has been proposed that the Chinese words for tea, tu, cha and ming, may have been borrowed from the Austro-Asiatic languages of people who inhabited southwest China; cha for example may have been derived from an archaic Austro-Asiatic root *la, meaning "leaf". [17]

Varieties of Chinese Family of local language varieties

Chinese, also known as Sinitic, is a branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family consisting of hundreds of local language varieties that are not mutually intelligible. The differences are greater than within the Romance languages, with variation particularly strong in the more mountainous southeast. There is currently no classification of Sinitic languages, or even a comprehensive list. The family is typically divided into several subfamilies: Mandarin, Wu, Min, Xiang, Gan, Hakka and Yue, though some varieties remain unclassified. Some authors further break up Mandarin, Wu, Yue and especially Min. These groups are neither clades nor individual languages defined by mutual intelligibility, but reflect common phonological developments from Middle Chinese.

Mandarin Chinese major branch of Chinese spoken across most of northern and southwestern China

Mandarin is a group of related varieties of Chinese spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. The group includes the Beijing dialect, the basis of Standard Chinese or Standard Mandarin. Because Mandarin originated in North China and most Mandarin dialects are found in the north, the group is sometimes referred to as the Northern dialects. Many local Mandarin varieties are not mutually intelligible. Nevertheless, Mandarin is often placed first in lists of languages by number of native speakers.

Wu Chinese primary branch of Chinese spoken in eastern China

Wu is a group of linguistically similar and historically related varieties of Chinese primarily spoken in the whole city of Shanghai, Zhejiang province and the southern half of Jiangsu province, as well as bordering areas.

Tea plantation in Assam, India Tea garden of Assam.jpg
Tea plantation in Assam, India

The few exceptions of words for tea that do not fall into the three broad groups of te, cha and chai are the minor languages from the botanical homeland of the tea plant from which the Chinese words for tea might have been borrowed originally: [15] northeast Burma and southwest Yunnan. Examples are la (meaning tea purchased elsewhere) and miiem (wild tea gathered in the hills) from the Wa people, letpet in Burmese and meng in Lamet meaning "fermented tea leaves", as well as miang in Thai ("fermented tea").

Wa people ethnic group

The Wa people are an ethnic group that lives mainly in northern Myanmar, in the northern part of Shan State and the eastern part of Kachin State, near and along Burma's border with China, as well as in Yunnan, China.

Most Chinese languages, such as Mandarin and Cantonese, pronounce it along the lines of cha, but Hokkien and Teochew Chinese varieties along the Southern coast of China pronounce it like teh. These two pronunciations have made their separate ways into other languages around the world. [18]

Teochew dialect Southern Min dialect

Teochew is a Southern Min dialect spoken mainly by the Teochew people in the Chaoshan region of eastern Guangdong and by their diaspora around the world. It is sometimes referred to as Chiuchow, its Cantonese name, due to the English romanisation by colonial officials and explorers. It is closely related to some dialects of Hokkien, as it shares some cognates and phonology with it, although the two are not largely mutually intelligible.

Starting in the early 17th century, the Dutch played a dominant role in the early European tea trade via the Dutch East India Company. [19] The Dutch borrowed the word for "tea" (thee) from Min Chinese, either through trade directly from Hokkien speakers in Formosa where they had established a port, or from Malay traders in Bantam, Java. [20] The Dutch then introduced to other European languages this Min pronunciation for tea, including English tea, French thé, Spanish , and German Tee. [21] This pronunciation is also the most common form worldwide. [22] The Cha pronunciation came from the Cantonese chàh of Guangzhou (Canton) and the ports of Hong Kong and Macau, which were also major points of contact, especially with the Portuguese traders who settled Macau in the 16th century. The Portuguese adopted the Cantonese pronunciation "chá", and spread it to India. [20] However, the Korean and Japanese pronunciations of cha were not from Cantonese, but were borrowed into Korean and Japanese during earlier periods of Chinese history.

A third form, the increasingly widespread chai, came from Persian چای [tʃɒːi] chay. Both the châ and chây forms are found in Persian dictionaries. [23] They are derived from the Northern Chinese pronunciation of chá, [24] which passed overland to Central Asia and Persia, where it picked up the Persian grammatical suffix -yi before passing on to Russian as чай ( [tɕæj] , chay), Arabic as شاي (pronounced shay [ʃæiː] due to the lack of a /t͡ʃ/ sound in Arabic), Urdu as چائے chay, Hindi as चाय chāy, Turkish as çay, etc. [25] English has all three forms: cha or char (both pronounced /ɑː/ ), attested from the 16th century; tea, from the 17th; and chai, from the 20th. However, the form chai refers specifically to a black tea mixed with sugar or honey, spices and milk in contemporary English. [26]

Origin and history

A 19th-century Japanese painting depicting Shennong: Chinese legends credit Shennong with the invention of tea. Shinno (Shennong) derivative.jpg
A 19th-century Japanese painting depicting Shennong: Chinese legends credit Shennong with the invention of tea.

Tea plants are native to East Asia, and probably originated in the borderlands of north Burma and southwestern China. [28]

Chinese (small leaf) type tea (C. sinensis var. sinensis) may have originated in southern China possibly with hybridization of unknown wild tea relatives. However, since there are no known wild populations of this tea, the precise location of its origin is speculative. [29] [30]

Given their genetic differences forming distinct clades, Chinese Assam type tea (C. sinensis var. assamica) may have two different parentages – one being found in southern Yunnan (Xishuangbanna, Pu'er City) and the other in western Yunnan (Lincang, Baoshan). Many types of Southern Yunnan assam tea have been hybridized with the closely related species Camellia taliensis. Unlike Southern Yunnan Assam tea, Western Yunnan Assam tea shares many genetic similarities with Indian Assam type tea (also C. sinensis var. assamica). Thus, Western Yunnan Assam tea and Indian Assam tea both may have originated from the same parent plant in the area where southwestern China, Indo-Burma, and Tibet meet. However, as the Indian Assam tea shares no haplotypes with Western Yunnan Assam tea, Indian Assam tea is likely to have originated from an independent domestication. Some Indian Assam tea appears to have hybridized with the species Camellia pubicosta. [29] [30]

Assuming a generation of 12 years, Chinese small leaf tea is estimated to have diverged from Assam tea around 22,000 years ago while Chinese Assam tea and Indian Assam tea diverged 2,800 years ago. The divergence of Chinese small leaf tea and Assam tea would correspond to the last glacial maximum. [29] [30]

Tea drinking may have begun in the region of Yunnan region, when it was used for medicinal purposes. It is also believed that in Sichuan, "people began to boil tea leaves for consumption into a concentrated liquid without the addition of other leaves or herbs, thereby using tea as a bitter yet stimulating drink, rather than as a medicinal concoction." [6]

Chinese legends attribute the invention of tea to the mythical Shennong (in central and northern China) in 2737 BC although evidence suggests that tea drinking may have been introduced from the southwest of China (Sichuan/Yunnan area). [27] The earliest written records of tea come from China. The word appears in the Shijing and other ancient texts to signify a kind of "bitter vegetable" (苦菜), and it is possible that it referred to many different plants such as sowthistle, chicory, or smartweed, [31] as well as tea. [15] In the Chronicles of Huayang , it was recorded that the Ba people in Sichuan presented tu to the Zhou king. The Qin later conquered the state of Ba and its neighbour Shu, and according to the 17th century scholar Gu Yanwu who wrote in Ri Zhi Lu (日知錄): "It was after the Qin had taken Shu that they learned how to drink tea." [2] Another possible early reference to tea is found in a letter written by the Qin Dynasty general Liu Kun who requested that some "real tea" to be sent to him. [32]

The earliest known physical evidence [33] of tea was discovered in 2016 in the mausoleum of Emperor Jing of Han in Xi'an, indicating that tea from the genus Camellia was drunk by Han Dynasty emperors as early as the 2nd century BC. [34] The Han dynasty work, "The Contract for a Youth", written by Wang Bao in 59 BC, [35] contains the first known reference to boiling tea. Among the tasks listed to be undertaken by the youth, the contract states that "he shall boil tea and fill the utensils" and "he shall buy tea at Wuyang". [2] The first record of tea cultivation is also dated to this period (the reign of Emperor Xuan of Han), during which tea was cultivated on Meng Mountain (蒙山) near Chengdu. [36] Another early credible record of tea drinking dates to the third century AD, in a medical text by Hua Tuo, who stated, "to drink bitter t'u constantly makes one think better." [37] However, before the mid-8th century Tang dynasty, tea-drinking was primarily a southern Chinese practice. [38] It became widely popular during the Tang Dynasty, when it was spread to Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.

Through the centuries, a variety of techniques for processing tea, and a number of different forms of tea, were developed. During the Tang dynasty, tea was steamed, then pounded and shaped into cake form, [39] while in the Song dynasty, loose-leaf tea was developed and became popular. During the Yuan and Ming dynasties, unoxidized tea leaves were first pan-fried, then rolled and dried, a process that stops the oxidation process that turns the leaves dark, thereby allowing tea to remain green. In the 15th century, oolong tea, in which the leaves were allowed to partially oxidize before pan-frying, was developed. [38] Western tastes, however, favoured the fully oxidized black tea, and the leaves were allowed to oxidize further. Yellow tea was an accidental discovery in the production of green tea during the Ming dynasty, when apparently sloppy practices allowed the leaves to turn yellow, but yielded a different flavour as a result. [40]

Tea-weighing station north of Batumi, Russian Empire before 1915 Gorskii 03992u.jpg
Tea-weighing station north of Batumi, Russian Empire before 1915

Tea was first introduced to Portuguese priests and merchants in China during the 16th century, at which time it was termed chá. [8] The earliest European reference to tea, written as Chiai, came from Delle navigationi e viaggi written by a Venetian, Giambattista Ramusio, in 1545. [41] The first recorded shipment of tea by a European nation was in 1607 when the Dutch East India Company moved a cargo of tea from Macao to Java, then two years later, the Dutch bought the first assignment of tea which was from Hirado in Japan to be shipped to Europe. [42] Tea became a fashionable drink in The Hague in the Netherlands, and the Dutch introduced the drink to Germany, France and across the Atlantic to New Amsterdam (New York). [43]

The first record of tea in English came from a letter written by Richard Wickham, who ran an East India Company office in Japan, writing to a merchant in Macao requesting "the best sort of chaw" in 1615. Peter Mundy, a traveller and merchant who came across tea in Fujian in 1637, wrote, "chaa – only water with a kind of herb boyled in it ". [44] [45] Tea was sold in a coffee house in London in 1657, Samuel Pepys tasted tea in 1660, and Catherine of Braganza took the tea-drinking habit to the British court when she married Charles II in 1662. Tea, however, was not widely consumed in Britain until the 18th century, and remained expensive until the latter part of that period. British drinkers preferred to add sugar and milk to black tea, and black tea overtook green tea in popularity in the 1720s. [46] Tea smuggling during the 18th century led to the general public being able to afford and consume tea. The British government removed the tax on tea, thereby eliminating the smuggling trade by 1785. [47] In Britain and Ireland, tea was initially consumed as a luxury item on special occasions, such as religious festivals, wakes, and domestic work gatherings. The price of tea in Europe fell steadily during the 19th century, especially after Indian tea began to arrive in large quantities; by the late 19th century tea had become an everyday beverage for all levels of society. [48] The popularity of tea also informed a number of historical events – the Tea Act of 1773 provoked the Boston Tea Party that escalated into the American Revolution. The need to address the issue of British trade deficit caused by the Manchu Emperor Kangxi who proclaimed that “China was the center of the world, possessing everything they could ever want or need and banned foreign products from being sold in China!” He also decreed in 1685 “That all goods bought from China must be paid for in Silver Coin or Bullion.” This caused all other Nation's Traders to find some other product, opium, to sell to China to earn back the silver they were required to paid for tea, jade and silk. Later, Chinese Government attempts to curtail the trade in opium without relaxing trade restrictions on foreign goods, resulted in the Opium Wars. [49]

Chinese small leaf type tea was introduced into India in 1836 by the British in an attempt to break the Chinese monopoly on tea. [50] In 1841, Archibald Campbell brought seeds of Chinese tea from the Kumaun region and experimented with planting tea in Darjeeling. The Alubari tea garden was opened in 1856 and Darjeeling tea began to be produced. [51] In 1848, Robert Fortune was sent by the East India Company on a mission to China to bring the tea plant back to Great Britain. He began his journey in high secrecy as his mission occurred in the lull between the Anglo-Chinese First Opium War (18391842) and Second Opium War (18561860). [52] The Chinese tea plants he brought back were introduced to the Himalayas, though most did not survive. The British had discovered that a different variety of tea was endemic to Assam and the northeast region of India and that it was used by the local Singpho people, and these were then grown instead of the Chinese tea plant and then were subsequently hybridized with Chinese small leaf type tea as well as likely closely related wild tea species. Using the Chinese planting and cultivation techniques, the British launched a tea industry by offering land in Assam to any European who agreed to cultivate it for export. [50] Tea was originally consumed only by anglicized Indians; however, it became widely popular in India in the 1950s because of a successful advertising campaign by the India Tea Board. [50]

Cultivation and harvesting

Tea plantation workers in Sri Lanka SriLanka TeaHarvest (pixinn.net).jpg
Tea plantation workers in Sri Lanka

Camellia sinensis is an evergreen plant that grows mainly in tropical and subtropical climates. [53] Some varieties can also tolerate marine climates and are cultivated as far north as Cornwall in England, [54] Perthshire in Scotland, [55] Washington state in the United States, [56] and Vancouver Island in Canada. [57] In the Southern Hemisphere, tea is grown as far south as Hobart on the Australian island of Tasmania [58] [59] and Waikato in New Zealand. [60]

Tea plants are propagated from seed and cuttings; about 4 to 12 years are needed for a plant to bear seed and about three years before a new plant is ready for harvesting. [53] In addition to a zone 8 climate or warmer, tea plants require at least 127 cm (50 in) of rainfall a year and prefer acidic soils. [61] Many high-quality tea plants are cultivated at elevations of up to 1,500 m (4,900 ft) above sea level. Though at these heights the plants grow more slowly, they acquire a better flavour. [62]

Two principal varieties are used: Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, which is used for most Chinese, Formosan and Japanese teas, and C. sinensis var. assamica, used in Pu-erh and most Indian teas (but not Darjeeling). Within these botanical varieties, many strains and modern clonal varieties are known. Leaf size is the chief criterion for the classification of tea plants, with three primary classifications being, [63] Assam type, characterised by the largest leaves; China type, characterised by the smallest leaves; and Cambodian type, characterised by leaves of intermediate size. The Cambod type tea (C. assamica subsp. lasiocaly) was originally considered a type of assam tea. However, later genetic work showed that it is a hybrid between Chinese small leaf tea and assam type tea. [64] Darjeeling tea also appears to be hybrids between Chinese small leaf tea and assam type tea. [65]

A tea plant will grow into a tree of up to 16 m (52 ft) if left undisturbed, [53] but cultivated plants are generally pruned to waist height for ease of plucking. Also, the short plants bear more new shoots which provide new and tender leaves and increase the quality of the tea. [66]

Only the top 1–2 inches (2.5–5.1 cm) of the mature plant are picked. These buds and leaves are called 'flushes'. [67] A plant will grow a new flush every seven to 15 days during the growing season. Leaves that are slow in development tend to produce better-flavoured teas. [53] Several teas are available from specified flushes; for example, Darjeeling tea is available as first flush (at a premium price), second flush, monsoon and autumn. Assam second flush or "tippy" tea is considered superior to first flush, due to the gold tips that appear on the leaves.

Pests of tea include mosquito bugs of the genus Helopeltis (which are true bugs that must not be confused with the dipteran) that can tatter leaves, so they may be sprayed with insecticides. In addition, there may be Lepidopteran leaf feeders and various tea diseases.

Chemical composition

Physically speaking, tea has properties of both a solution and a suspension. It is a solution of all the water-soluble compounds that have been extracted from the tea leaves, such as the polyphenols and amino acids, but is a suspension when all of the insoluble components are considered, such as the cellulose in the tea leaves. [68]

Caffeine constitutes about 3% of tea's dry weight, translating to between 30 milligrams (0.0011 oz) and 90 milligrams (0.0032 oz) per 8-oz (250-ml) cup depending on the type, brand, [69] and brewing method. [70] A study found that the caffeine content of 1 gram (0.035 oz) of black tea ranged from 22–28 milligrams (0.00078–0.00099 oz), while the caffeine content of 1 gram (0.035 oz) of green tea ranged from 11–20 milligrams (0.00039–0.00071 oz), reflecting a significant difference. [71] Tea also contains small amounts of theobromine and theophylline, which are stimulants, and xanthines similar to caffeine. [72]

Fresh tea leaves in various stages of growth. TeaLeaves.JPG
Fresh tea leaves in various stages of growth.

Black and green teas contain no essential nutrients in significant amounts, with the exception of the dietary mineral manganese, at 0.5 milligrams (1.8×10−5 oz) per cup or 26% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI). [73] Fluoride is sometimes present in tea; certain types of "brick tea", made from old leaves and stems, have the highest levels, enough to pose a health risk if much tea is drunk, which has been attributed to high levels of fluoride in soils, acidic soils, and long brewing. [74]

The astringency in tea can be attributed to the presence of polyphenols. These are the most abundant compounds in tea leaves, making up 30–40% of their composition. [75] Polyphenols include flavonoids, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and other catechins. [76] [77]

It has been suggested that green and black tea may protect against cancer [78] or other diseases such as obesity [79] or Alzheimer's disease, [80] but the compounds found in green tea have not been conclusively demonstrated to have any effect on human diseases. [81] [82]

Processing and classification

Teas of different levels of oxidation (L to R): green, yellow, oolong, and black Tea in different grade of fermentation.jpg
Teas of different levels of oxidation (L to R): green, yellow, oolong, and black

Tea is generally divided into categories based on how it is processed. [83] At least six different types are produced:

After picking, the leaves of C. sinensis soon begin to wilt and oxidize unless immediately dried. An enzymatic oxidation process triggered by the plant's intracellular enzymes causes the leaves to turn progressively darker as their chlorophyll breaks down and tannins are released. This darkening is stopped at a predetermined stage by heating, which deactivates the enzymes responsible. In the production of black teas, halting by heating is carried out simultaneously with drying. Without careful moisture and temperature control during manufacture and packaging, growth of undesired molds and bacteria may make tea unfit for consumption.

Additional processing and additives

Common processing methods of tea leaves Teaprocessing.svg
Common processing methods of tea leaves

After basic processing, teas may be altered through additional processing steps before being sold, [84] and is often consumed with additions to the basic tea leaf and water added during preparation or drinking. Examples of additional processing steps that occur before tea is sold are blending, flavouring, scenting, and decaffeination of teas. Examples of additions added at the point of consumption include milk, sugar and lemon.


Tea blending is the combination of different teas together to achieve the final product. Almost all tea in bags and most loose tea sold in the West is blended.[ citation needed ] Such teas may combine others from the same cultivation area or several different ones. The aim is to obtain consistency, better taste, higher price, or some combination of the three.


Flavoured and scented teas add new aromas and flavours to the base tea. This can be accomplished through directly adding flavouring agents, such as ginger or dried ginger, cloves, mint leaves, cardamom, bergamot (found in Earl Grey), vanilla, and spearmint. Alternatively, because tea easily retains odours, it can be placed in proximity to an aromatic ingredient to absorb its aroma, as in traditional jasmine tea. [85] [ unreliable source? ]


Black tea is often taken with milk Nice Cup of Tea.jpg
Black tea is often taken with milk

The addition of milk to tea in Europe was first mentioned in 1680 by the epistolist Madame de Sévigné. [86] Many teas are traditionally drunk with milk in cultures where dairy products are consumed. These include Indian masala chai and British tea blends. These teas tend to be very hearty varieties of black tea which can be tasted through the milk, such as Assams, or the East Friesian blend. Milk is thought to neutralise remaining tannins and reduce acidity. [87] [88] The Han Chinese do not usually drink milk with tea but the Manchus do, and the elite of the Qing Dynasty of the Chinese Empire continued to do so. Hong Kong-style milk tea is based on British colonial habits. Tibetans and other Himalayan peoples traditionally drink tea with milk or yak butter and salt. In Eastern European countries, Russia and Italy, tea is commonly served with lemon juice. In Poland, tea is traditionally served with a slice of lemon and is sweetened with either sugar or honey; tea with milk is called a bawarka ("Bavarian style") in Polish and is also widely popular. [89] In Australia, tea with milk is known as white tea.

The order of steps in preparing a cup of tea is a much-debated topic, and can vary widely between cultures or even individuals. Some say it is preferable to add the milk to the cup before the tea, as the high temperature of freshly brewed tea can denature the proteins found in fresh milk, similar to the change in taste of UHT milk, resulting in an inferior-tasting beverage. [90] Others insist it is better to add the milk to the cup after the tea, as black tea is often brewed as close to boiling as possible. The addition of milk chills the beverage during the crucial brewing phase, if brewing in a cup rather than using a pot, meaning the delicate flavour of a good tea cannot be fully appreciated. By adding the milk afterwards, it is easier to dissolve sugar in the tea and also to ensure the desired amount of milk is added, as the colour of the tea can be observed. [91] Historically, the order of steps was taken as an indication of class: only those wealthy enough to afford good-quality porcelain would be confident of its being able to cope with being exposed to boiling water unadulterated with milk. [92] Higher temperature difference means faster heat transfer, so the earlier milk is added, the slower the drink cools. A 2007 study published in the European Heart Journal found certain beneficial effects of tea may be lost through the addition of milk. [93]


Black tea

Popular varieties of black tea include Assam, Nepal, Darjeeling, Nilgiri, Rize, Keemun, and Ceylon teas.

Many of the active substances in black tea do not develop at temperatures lower than 90 °C (194 °F). [94] As a result, black tea in the West is usually steeped in water near its boiling point, at around 99 °C (210 °F). Since boiling point drops with increasing altitude, it is difficult to brew black tea properly in mountainous areas.

Western black teas are usually brewed for about four minutes. In many regions of the world, however, actively boiling water is used and the tea is often stewed. In India, black tea is often boiled for fifteen minutes or longer to make Masala chai, as a strong brew is preferred. Tea is often strained while serving.

A food safety management group of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published a standard for preparing a cup of tea (ISO 3103: Tea – Preparation of liquor for use in sensory tests), primarily intended for standardizing preparation for comparison and rating purposes.

Green tea

In regions of the world that prefer mild beverages, such as the Far East, green tea is steeped in water around 80 to 85 °C (176 to 185 °F). Regions such as North Africa or Central Asia prefer a bitter tea, and hotter water is used. In Morocco, green tea is steeped in boiling water for 15 minutes.

The container in which green tea is steeped is often warmed beforehand to prevent premature cooling. High-quality green and white teas can have new water added as many as five or more times, depending on variety, at increasingly higher temperatures.

Oolong tea

Oolong tea is brewed around 82 to 96 °C (185 to 205 °F), with the brewing vessel warmed before pouring the water. Yixing purple clay teapots are the traditional brewing-vessel for oolong tea which can be brewed multiple times from the same leaves, unlike green tea, seeming to improve with reuse. In the southern Chinese and Taiwanese Gongfu tea ceremony, the first brew is discarded, as it is considered a rinse of leaves rather than a proper brew.

Pu-erh tea

Pu-erh teas require boiling water for infusion. Some prefer to quickly rinse pu-erh for several seconds with boiling water to remove tea dust which accumulates from the ageing process, then infuse it at the boiling point (100 °C or 212 °F), and allow it to steep from 30 seconds to five minutes.

Masala chai

Meaning "spiced tea", masala chai tea is prepared using black or green tea with milk (in which case it may be called a "latte"), and may be spiced with ginger. [95]

Cold brew tea

While most tea is prepared using hot water, it is also possible to brew a beverage from tea using room temperature or cooled water. This requires longer steeping time to extract the key components, and produces a different flavour profile. Cold brews use about 1.5 times the tea leaves that would be used for hot steeping, and are refrigerated for 4–10 hours. The process of making cold brew tea is much simpler than that for cold brew coffee.

Cold brewing has some disadvantages compared to hot steeping. If the leaves or source water contain unwanted bacteria, they may flourish, whereas using hot water has the benefit of killing most bacteria. This is less of a concern in modern times and developed regions. Cold brewing may also allow for less caffeine to be extracted.

Pouring from height

The flavour of tea can also be altered by pouring it from different heights, resulting in varying degrees of aeration. [96] The art of elevated pouring is used principally to enhance the flavour of the tea, while cooling the beverage for immediate consumption. [96]

In Southeast Asia, the practice of pouring tea from a height has been refined further using black tea to which condensed milk is added, poured from a height from one cup to another several times in alternating fashion and in quick succession, to create a tea with entrapped air bubbles, creating a frothy "head" in the cup. This beverage, teh tarik , literally, "pulled tea" (which has its origin as a hot Indian tea beverage), has a creamier taste than flat milk tea and is common in the region.

Tea culture

Masala chai from India with garnishes Masala Chai.JPG
Masala chai from India with garnishes
Turkish tea served in typical small glass and corresponding plate Turkish tea2.jpg
Turkish tea served in typical small glass and corresponding plate
Iced tea with a slice of lemon Iced Tea from flickr.jpg
Iced tea with a slice of lemon

Tea may be consumed early in the day to heighten calm alertness [ citation needed ]; it contains L-theanine, theophylline, and bound caffeine [5] (sometimes called theine ). Decaffeinated brands are also sold. While herbal teas are also referred to as tea, most of them do not contain leaves from the tea plant. While tea is the second most consumed beverage on Earth after water, in many cultures it is also consumed at elevated social events, such as the tea party.

Tea ceremonies have arisen in different cultures, such as the Chinese and Japanese traditions, each of which employs certain techniques and ritualised protocol of brewing and serving tea for enjoyment in a refined setting. One form of Chinese tea ceremony is the Gongfu tea ceremony , which typically uses small Yixing clay teapots and oolong tea.

In the United Kingdom 63% of people drink tea daily [97] and is perceived as one of Britain's cultural beverages. It is customary for a host to offer tea to guests soon after their arrival. Tea is consumed both at home and outside the home, often in cafés or tea rooms. Afternoon tea with cakes on fine porcelain is a cultural stereotype. In southwest England, many cafés serve a cream tea, consisting of scones, clotted cream, and jam alongside a pot of tea. In some parts of Britain and India 'tea' may also refer to the evening meal.

Ireland has long been one of the biggest per capita consumers of tea in the world. The national average is four cups per person per day, with many people drinking six cups or more. Tea in Ireland is usually taken with milk or sugar and is slightly spicier and stronger than the traditional English blend.[ citation needed ]

Tea is prevalent in most cultures in the Middle East. In Arab culture, tea is a focal point for social gatherings.[ citation needed ]

Turkish tea is an important part of that country's cuisine, and is the most commonly consumed hot drink, despite the country's long history of coffee consumption. In 2004 Turkey produced 205,500 tonnes of tea (6.4% of the world's total tea production), which made it one of the largest tea markets in the world, [98] with 120,000 tons being consumed in Turkey, and the rest being exported. [99] In 2010 Turkey had the highest per capita consumption in the world at 2.7 kg. [100] As of 2013, the per-capita consumption of Turkish tea exceeds 10 cups per day and 13.8 kg per year. [101] Tea is grown mostly in Rize Province on the Black Sea coast. [102]

In Iranian culture, tea is so widely consumed, it is generally the first thing offered to a household guest. [103]

Russia has a long, rich tea history dating to 1638 when tea was introduced to Tsar Michael. Social gatherings were considered incomplete without tea, which was traditionally brewed in a samovar, and today 82% of Russians consume tea daily[ citation needed ].

In Pakistan, both black and green teas are popular and are known locally as sabz chai and kahwah , respectively. The popular green tea called kahwah is often served after every meal in the Pashtun belt of Balochistan and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which is where the Khyber Pass is found. In central and southern Punjab and the metropolitan Sindh region of Pakistan, tea with milk and sugar (sometimes with pistachios, cardamom, etc.), commonly referred to as chai, is widely consumed. It is the most common beverage of households in the region. In the northern Pakistani regions of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan, a salty, buttered Tibetan-style tea is consumed.

In the transnational Kashmir region, which straddles the border between India and Pakistan, Kashmiri chai or noon chai , a pink, creamy tea with pistachios, almonds, cardamom, and sometimes cinnamon, is consumed primarily at special occasions, weddings, and during the winter months when it is sold in many kiosks.

Indian tea South Indian tea (5399611578).jpg
Indian tea

Indian tea culture is strong – the drink is the most popular hot beverage in the country. It is consumed daily[ citation needed ] in almost all houses, offered to guests, consumed in high amounts in domestic and official surroundings, and is made with the addition of milk with or without spices, and usually sweetened. At homes it is sometimes served with biscuits to be dipped in the tea and eaten before consuming the tea. More often than not, it is drunk in "doses" of small cups (referred to as "Cutting" chai if sold at street tea vendors) rather than one large cup. On 21 April 2012, the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission (India), Montek Singh Ahluwalia, said tea would be declared as national drink by April 2013. [104] [105] The move is expected to boost the tea industry in the country. Speaking on the occasion, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said a special package for the tea industry would be announced in the future to ensure its development. [106] The history of tea in India is especially rich.

In Burma (Myanmar), tea is consumed not only as hot drinks, but also as sweet tea and green tea known locally as laphet-yay and laphet-yay-gyan, respectively. Pickled tea leaves, known locally as laphet , are also a national delicacy. Pickled tea is usually eaten with roasted sesame seeds, crispy fried beans, roasted peanuts and fried garlic chips. [107]

In Mali, gunpowder tea is served in series of three, starting with the highest oxidisation or strongest, unsweetened tea, locally referred to as "strong like death", followed by a second serving, where the same tea leaves are boiled again with some sugar added ("pleasant as life"), and a third one, where the same tea leaves are boiled for the third time with yet more sugar added ("sweet as love"). Green tea is the central ingredient of a distinctly Malian custom, the "Grin", an informal social gathering that cuts across social and economic lines, starting in front of family compound gates in the afternoons and extending late into the night, and is widely popular in Bamako and other large urban areas.[ citation needed ]

In the United States, 80% of tea is consumed as iced tea. [108] Sweet tea is native to the southeastern US, and is iconic in its cuisine. [109]


Worldwide tea production in 2017 World Map Tea Production.svg
Worldwide tea production in 2017
Tea production – 2016
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China 2.4M
Flag of India.svg  India 1.3M
Flag of Kenya.svg  Kenya 500k
Flag of Sri Lanka.svg  Sri Lanka 300k
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 200k
Source: FAOSTAT of the United Nations [110]

In 2016, global production of tea was about 6 million tonnes, led by China with 40% and India with 22% of the world total (table). Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Turkey were other major producers. [110]

The tea fields in the foothills of Gorreana, Azores Islands, Portugal, the only European region other than Georgia to support green tea production. Azores-Day3-4 (34609679025).jpg
The tea fields in the foothills of Gorreana, Azores Islands, Portugal, the only European region other than Georgia to support green tea production.


Tea factory in Taiwan Tea factory, Pinglin.jpg
Tea factory in Taiwan

Tea is the most popular manufactured drink consumed in the world, equaling all others – including coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, and alcohol – combined. [4] Most tea consumed outside East Asia is produced on large plantations in the hilly regions of India and Sri Lanka, and is destined to be sold to large businesses. Opposite this large-scale industrial production are many small "gardens," sometimes minuscule plantations, that produce highly sought-after teas prized by gourmets. These teas are both rare and expensive, and can be compared to some of the most expensive wines in this respect.

India is the world's largest tea-drinking nation, [111] although the per capita consumption of tea remains a modest 750 grams (26 oz) per person every year. Turkey, with 2.5 kilograms (5.5 lb) of tea consumed per person per year, is the world's greatest per capita consumer. [112]

Labor and consumer safety problems

Multiple recent[ when? ] reports have found that most Chinese and Indian teas contain residues of banned toxic pesticides. [113] [114] [115] [116]

Tea production in Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda has been reported to make use of child labor according to the U.S. Department of Labor's List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor [117] (a report on the worst forms of child labor).


Workers who pick and pack tea on plantations in developing countries can face harsh working conditions and may earn below the living wage. [118]

A number of bodies independently certify the production of tea. Tea from certified estates can be sold with a certification label on the pack. The most important certification schemes are Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade, UTZ Certified, and Organic,[ citation needed ] which also certify other crops such as coffee, cocoa and fruit. Rainforest Alliance certified tea is sold by Unilever brands Lipton and PG Tips in Western Europe, Australia and the US. Fairtrade certified tea is sold by a large number of suppliers around the world. UTZ Certified announced a partnership in 2008 with Sara Lee brand Pickwick tea.

Production of organic tea has risen since its introduction in 1990 at Rembeng, Kondoli Tea Estate, Assam. [119] 6,000 tons of organic tea were sold in 1999. [120] About 75% of organic tea production is sold in France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.[ citation needed ]


In 2013, China – the world's largest producer of tea – exported 325,806 tonnes, or 14% of their total crop. [121] India exported 254,841 tonnes or 20% of their total production. [121]

In 2013, the largest importer of tea was the Russian Federation with 173,070 tonnes, followed by the United Kingdom, the United States, and Pakistan. [121]


Tea bags

Tea bags Tea bags.jpg
Tea bags

In 1907, American tea merchant Thomas Sullivan began distributing samples of his tea in small bags of Chinese silk with a drawstring. Consumers noticed they could simply leave the tea in the bag and reuse it with fresh tea. However, the potential of this distribution and packaging method would not be fully realised until later on. During World War II, tea was rationed in the United Kingdom. In 1953, after rationing in the UK ended, Tetley launched the tea bag to the UK and it was an immediate success.

The "pyramid tea bag" (or sachet), introduced by Lipton [122] and PG Tips/Scottish Blend in 1996, [123] attempts to address one of the connoisseurs' arguments against paper tea bags by way of its three-dimensional tetrahedron shape, which allows more room for tea leaves to expand while steeping.[ citation needed ] However, some types of pyramid tea bags have been criticised as being environmentally unfriendly, since their synthetic material is not as biodegradable as loose tea leaves and paper tea bags. [124]

Loose tea

A blend of loose-leaf black teas English Westminster Tea.jpg
A blend of loose-leaf black teas

The tea leaves are packaged loosely in a canister, paper bag, or other container such as a tea chest. Some whole teas, such as rolled gunpowder tea leaves, which resist crumbling, are sometimes vacuum-packed for freshness in aluminised packaging for storage and retail. The loose tea must be individually measured for use, allowing for flexibility and flavour control at the expense of convenience. Strainers, tea balls, tea presses, filtered teapots, and infusion bags prevent loose leaves from floating in the tea and over-brewing. A traditional method uses a three-piece lidded teacup called a gaiwan, the lid of which is tilted to decant the tea into a different cup for consumption.

Compressed tea

Compressed tea (such as pu-erh) is produced for convenience in transport, storage, and ageing. It can usually be stored longer without spoilage than loose leaf tea.

Compressed tea is prepared by loosening leaves from the cake using a small knife, and steeping the extracted pieces in water. During the Tang dynasty, as described by Lu Yu, compressed tea was ground into a powder, combined with hot water, and ladled into bowls, resulting in a "frothy" mixture. [125] In the Song dynasty, the tea powder would instead be whisked with hot water in the bowl. Although no longer practiced in China today, the whisking method of preparing powdered tea was transmitted to Japan by Zen Buddhist monks, and is still used to prepare matcha in the Japanese tea ceremony. [126]

Compressed tea was the most popular form of tea in China during the Tang dynasty. [127] By the beginning of the Ming dynasty, it had been displaced by loose-leaf tea. [128] It remains popular, however, in the Himalayan countries and Mongolian steppes. In Mongolia, tea bricks were ubiquitous enough to be used as a form of currency. Among Himalayan peoples, compressed tea is consumed by combining it with yak butter and salt to produce butter tea. [129]

Instant tea

"Instant tea", similar to freeze-dried instant coffee and an alternative to brewed tea, can be consumed either hot or cold. Instant tea was developed in the 1930s, with Nestlé introducing the first commercial product in 1946, while Redi-Tea debuted instant iced tea in 1953.

Delicacy of flavour is sacrificed for convenience. Additives such as chai, vanilla, honey or fruit, are popular, as is powdered milk.

During the Second World War British and Canadian soldiers were issued an instant tea known as "Compo" in their Composite Ration Packs. These blocks of instant tea, powdered milk, and sugar were not always well received. As Royal Canadian Artillery Gunner, George C Blackburn observed:

But, unquestionably, the feature of Compo rations destined to be remembered beyond all others is Compo tea...Directions say to "sprinkle powder on heated water and bring to the boil, stirring well, three heaped teaspoons to one pint of water."

Every possible variation in the preparation of this tea was tried, but...it always ended up the same way. While still too hot to drink, it is a good-looking cup of strong tea. Even when it becomes just cool enough to be sipped gingerly, it is still a good-tasting cup of tea, if you like your tea strong and sweet. But let it cool enough to be quaffed and enjoyed, and your lips will be coated with a sticky scum that forms across the surface, which if left undisturbed will become a leathery membrane that can be wound around your finger and flipped away... [130]

Bottled and canned tea

Canned tea is sold prepared and ready to drink. It was introduced in 1981 in Japan.

The first bottled tea introduced by Indonesian tea company PT. Sinar Sosro in 1969 with brand name Teh Botol Sosro (or Sosro bottled tea). [131]

In 1983, Swiss-based Bischofszell Food Ltd., was the first company to bottle iced tea on an industrial scale. [132]


Storage conditions and type determine the shelf life of tea. Black tea's is greater than green's. Some, such as flower teas, may last only a month or so. Others, such as pu-erh, improve with age.

To remain fresh and prevent mold, tea needs to be stored away from heat, light, air, and moisture. Tea must be kept at room temperature in an air-tight container. Black tea in a bag within a sealed opaque canister may keep for two years. Green tea deteriorates more rapidly, usually in less than a year. Tightly rolled gunpowder tea leaves keep longer than the more open-leafed Chun Mee tea.

Storage life for all teas can be extended by using desiccant or oxygen-absorbing packets, vacuum sealing, or refrigeration in air-tight containers (except green tea, where discrete use of refrigeration or freezing is recommended and temperature variation kept to a minimum). [133]

See also

Related Research Articles

Drink Kind of liquid which is specifically prepared for human consumption

A drink is a liquid intended for human consumption. In addition to their basic function of satisfying thirst, drinks play important roles in human culture. Common types of drinks include plain drinking water, milk, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, juice and soft drinks. In addition, alcoholic drinks such as wine, beer, and liquor, which contain the drug ethanol, have been part of human culture for more than 8,000 years.

Green tea unoxidized tea

Green tea is a type of tea that is made from Camellia sinensis leaves and buds that have not undergone the same withering and oxidation process used to make oolong teas and black teas. Green tea originated in China, but its production and manufacture has spread to many other countries in Asia.

Chinese tea culture the chinese way of drinking tea

Chinese tea culture refers to how tea is prepared as well as the occasions when people consume tea in China. Tea culture in China differs from that in European countries like Britain and other Asian countries like Japan, Korea, Vietnam in preparation, taste, and occasion when it is consumed. Tea is still consumed regularly, both on casual and formal occasions. In addition to being a popular beverage, it is used in traditional Chinese medicine as well as in Chinese cuisine.

White tea one of several styles of tea which generally feature young or minimally processed leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant

White tea may refer to one of several styles of tea which generally feature young or minimally processed leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.

Assam tea black tea

Assam tea is a black tea named after the region of its production, Assam, India. Assam tea is manufactured specifically from the plant Camellia sinensis var. assamica (Masters). The same tea plant is also traditionally used in Yunnan province in China. Assam tea is mostly grown at or near sea level and is known for its body, briskness, malty flavour, and strong, bright colour. Assam teas, or blends containing Assam, are often sold as "breakfast" teas. For instance, Irish breakfast tea, a maltier and stronger breakfast tea, consists of small-sized Assam tea leaves.

The history of tea in China is long and complex, for the Chinese have enjoyed tea for millennia. Scholars hailed the brew as a cure for a variety of ailments; the nobility considered the consumption of good tea as a mark of their status, and the common people simply enjoyed its flavour. In 2016, the discovery of the earliest known physical evidence of tea from the mausoleum of Emperor Jing of Han in Xi'an was announced, indicating that tea from the genus Camellia was drunk by Han Dynasty emperors as early as the 2nd century BCE. Tea then became a popular drink in the Tang (618–907) and Song (960–1279) Dynasties.

History of tea

The history of tea is long and complex, spreading across multiple cultures over the span of thousands of years. Tea likely originated in the Yunnan region during the Shang dynasty as a medicinal drink. An early credible record of tea drinking dates to the 3rd century AD, in a medical text written by Hua Tuo. Tea was first introduced to Portuguese priests and merchants in Lebanon during the 16th century. Drinking tea became popular in Britain during the 17th century. The British introduced tea production, as well as tea consumption, to India, in order to compete with the Chinese monopoly on tea.

Tea culture Wikimedia disambiguation page

Tea culture is defined by the way tea is made and consumed, by the way the people interact with tea, and by the aesthetics surrounding tea drinking.

Wuyi tea

Wuyi tea, formerly known by the trade name Bohea in English, is a category of black and oolong teas grown in the Wuyi Mountains of northern Fujian, China. The Wuyi region produces a number of well-known teas, including Lapsang souchong and Da Hong Pao. It has historically been one of the major centers of tea production in Fujian province and globally. Both black tea and oolong tea were likely invented in the Wuyi region, which continues to produce both styles today.

Korean tea

Korean tea is a beverage consisting of boiled water infused with leaves, roots, flowers, fruits, grains, edible mushrooms, or seaweed.

History of tea in India Wikimedia history article

India is one of the largest tea producers in the world, although over 70 percent of its tea is consumed within India itself. In this, India is also among the top 5 per-capita tea consumers. A number of renowned teas, such as Assam and Darjeeling, also grow exclusively in India. The Indian tea industry has grown to own many global tea brands and has evolved into one of the most technologically equipped tea industries in the world. Tea production, certification, exportation, and all other facets of the tea trade in India is controlled by the Tea Board of India.

Indian tea culture

India is the second largest producer of tea in the world after China, including the famous Assam tea and Darjeeling tea. Tea is also the 'State Drink' of Assam. In October 2012, the state of Assam officially declared tea as the state drink. Following this the former Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, Montek Singh Ahluwalia had plans to officially recognise tea as the "National Drink" in 2013. According to the ASSOCHAM report released in December, 2011, India, as the world's largest consumer of tea uses nearly 30 percent of the global output. Despite the consumption, India is also the largest exporter of tea after China.

Ginger tea Tea made from ginger root

Ginger tea is an Asian herbal beverage that is made from ginger root. It has a long history as a traditional herbal medicine in East Asia, Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

Doodh pati chai

Doodh pati chai is a tea beverage, originating from the Indian subcontinent, consumed in Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, in which milk, together with sugar, is boiled with tea. Doodh pati is different from saada chai, in that it only uses milk and tea. This tea does not include water. It is made with milk, tea leaves and sugar only. This milk-based tea is quite common in South Asia. It is marginally costlier than regular, water-based saada chai.

Masala chai flavoured tea beverage made from aromatic spices and herbs

Masala chai is a flavoured tea beverage made by brewing black tea with a mixture of aromatic spices and herbs. Originating in the Indian subcontinent, the beverage has gained worldwide popularity, becoming a feature in many coffee and tea houses. Although traditionally prepared as a decoction of green cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, ground ginger, and black peppercorn together with black tea leaves, retail versions include tea bags for infusion, instant powdered mixtures, and concentrates.

The etymology of the word tea can be traced back to the various Chinese pronunciations of the word. Nearly all the words for tea worldwide, fall into three broad groups: te, cha and chai, which reflected the history of transmission of tea drinking culture and trade from China to countries around the world. The few exceptions of words for tea that do not fall into these three broad groups are mostly from the minor languages from the botanical homeland of the tea plant, and likely to be the ultimate origin of the Chinese words for tea.

Black tea flavorful tea from tea leaves

Black tea is a type of tea that is more oxidized than oolong, green, and white teas. Black tea is generally stronger in flavour than the less oxidized teas. All four types are made from leaves of the shrub Camellia sinensis. Two principal varieties of the species are used – the small-leaved Chinese variety plant, used for most other types of teas, and the large-leaved Assamese plant, which was traditionally mainly used for black tea, although in recent years some green and white teas have been produced. In China, where black tea was discovered, the beverage is called "red tea" due to the color of the oxidized leaves when processed appropriately.


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