Tea has a rich history. The origins of tea have many legends and many stories have been written about it. According to various legends, drinking tea 5,000 years ago originated in ancient China. One of the most famous stories is from the early Emperor Shen Nung, 2737 BC. Shen Nung was a skilled leader, a scholar and herbalist. He took the choice to cook all the drinking water first from now on. During one of his trips on a hot summer day, he stopped to rest. Nung cooked his water under a wild tea bush when some leaves of this bush fell into his water. The water turned brown and this aroused the emperor’s interest. He took a few sips and discovered that the drink was refreshing and contained a delicious taste.
Origin of tea a legend?
This was, as legend wants us to believe, the birth of tea. Because the story is so plausible, many historians believe that there is at least a core of truth in it. According to another anecdote, an Indian monk named Bodhidharma, later known as zen’s founder, would have sailed to China to meditate there for nine years. During his meditation he became sleepy. To prevent him from falling asleep, he cut off his eyelids at one point. At the spot where his eyelids fell to the ground, a plant emerged with leaves that had an exciting effect. Bodhidharma meditated on Mount T’a, hence the word tea.
Facts about the history of tea
It is known that tea was drunk only as medicine and strengthening medicine during the first centuries after the discovery. It was not until 300 BC that tea became a drink that was drunk as a pleasure. The first written mention of tea can be found in a Chinese dictionary from 350 AD.
The art and pleasure of tea drinking was reserved only to the Chinese for a long time. It was not until the fifth century AD that tea was exported to other Asian countries. More than a thousand years later, in 1610, it was the Dutch who brought a load of tea to Europe for the first time.
Tea attributes and culture
In China, it is still common for the younger generation to greet the older generation with a cup of tea to show respect. Another habit is that if person A pours a cup of tea for person B, person B with his index and middle finger knocks on the table. This habit would come from the Ching Dynasty, some 300 to 400 years ago.
The story is as follows. The emperor wanted to visit his empire without notice, which is why he just dressed. His servants were also not allowed to stand out, because this would give away the identity of the emperor. One day the emperor was with his entourage in a restaurant. After the emperor had poured tea for himself, he did so for his servant. This was a great honor for the servant and he wanted to kneel in a reflex for his master to thank him. However, he managed to control himself just in time. Instead of kneeling himself, the servant did this with his fingers. This “thank you” is still used today.
Drinking tea technique
In China, tea is mainly used for conviviality and uses the different techniques to make tea with the aim of entitlement to the best possible possible. One of these techniques is called “Gong-Fu”. This uses a so-called gaiwan and very small cups. The gaiwan and cups are preheated with boiling water. Usually this happens on a special tea plate (a kind of “box” of bamboo with holes in it to absorb excess water).
After preheating, a lot of tea is put in the gaiwan and the water is poured, and the tea is very short before the tea is donated in the cups. The same tea in the gaiwan is served up to 20 times. In good tea, the taste changes after each donation. This way of putting tea allows you to experience all these different flavors, as opposed to putting a large pot of little tea leaves. A variant of this method is to use small teapot of special clay, making the taste of the tea even better to its right. The tea attributes (necessities) therefore play an important role.
Popular Tea in United Kingdom
In the Netherlands, the so-called “taste tea” is particularly well known and popular. All tea, except herbal tea, is made from tea leaves that come from the tea bush. The tea bush grows in a tropical or subtropical climate. If the tea bush is about four years old, it can be harvested for the first time. Only the young leaves are picked during harvesting. Harvesting quality tea is always done by hand, which gives the best result. Although one can harvest throughout the year, the best tea leaves for most types of tea are harvested in spring. An exception to this is the Oolong tea.
The best quality Oolong will be harvested in autumn. Although there are many different types of tea, they all come from the leaves of the same tea bush: the Camellia Sinensis. This plant belongs to the Genus Camellia, which has existed since the great ice age. Tea bushes can get 20 meters high. In China there is even a tea tree (Pu-erh) that is more than 25 meters high and older than 2700 years!
Different tea brands
Because almost all tea species come from the same plant, the processing process plays a very important role. Especially “fermenting” is a widely used term in the tea world. The definition of fermenting of tea differs from the normal definition of fermentation. The fermentation of tea means “letting the tea leaves absorb oxygen (oxidation) under controlled temperature and humidity”. The degree of oxidation determines the taste and properties of the tea. This process is very labour-intensive and the ability of the processor determines to a large extent the final quality (and price) of the tea. The Tea specialist focuses on high-quality tea brands at competitive prices.