Whether it is called tea (English), te (Italian), té (Spanish), thé (French), çay (Turkish), chai (Hindi), cha (Chinese, Japanese and Tibetan), tsa (Mongolian), ceai (Romanian) or herbata (Polish), tea is one of the most loved drinks in the world, being the second most appreciated after coffee. The tea tree (Camellia sinensis) originated in the South of China (as the Latin name says – sinensis means Chinese), India and some areas of South-Eastern Asia, and during the colonial period, it was cultivated in other different parts of the world. China has the oldest tea culture in the world, and Chinese people developed a highly refined tea ceremony. Another important tea ceremony was designed by Japanese and it was called chanoyu.
The best-known types of tea are black tea and green tea, but there are many different varieties, produced especially in China: white tea, oolong tea, pu-erh tea, and matcha (a tea powder produced in Japan). The difference between them is due to the oxidation degree during the production process. On the one hand, there are different types of tea, but on the other hand, there are many ways to prepare tea. In China it is infused repeatedly for a short time, in Japan matcha is mixed with water, in India chai is made of black tea, spices (ginger, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon) and milk, in Central Asia tea is prepared from green tea leaves, in Turkey çay is made of black tea infused in a two-pieces pot (called çaydanlık), in Great Britain it is made of black tea and they can add milk, in Morroco tea is prepared with a lot of mint and sugar, etc. Along with the development of different methods of drinking tea, there was produced a huge range of teaware (made of porcelain or glass).
If in China and Japan there is a tea ceremony, in India tea is sold on street sides by chaiwalas, but in many countries, it is sold in tea houses or restaurants: Turkey, Great Britain, Iran or Romania. The most important tea producing countries are China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Turkey. But in a very small amount tea is also produced in Great Britain and the USA.
Tea is not only a tasty drink, but it also has many health benefits: it lowers the sugar level, reduces the blood pressure, it’s full of antioxidants and tannins, it boosts energy (keeping us alert). Tea leaves or tea bags could be used after infusing for skin treatment, they can be also put under the eyes to reduce the dark circles or redness. Green tea infusion can be used on the face to treat acne. So, tea is a very good drink for both mind and body.
Author: Marinică Şchiopu, Romania