Did you know tea has been around considerably longer than coffee, in fact people were using ceramic teapots 11,000 ago in Asia and the Middle East. However, despite producing a vastly different drink at the end, the story of tea is as complex as its darker, stronger friend.
Uncultivated the evergreen tea shrub resembles a medium sized gangly tree, although most people envision terraces of neatly pruned bushes. First discovered in China, it was spread through Asia by Buddhist monks who drank it for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Like coffee, there are two main varieties cultivated for drinking; Camellia sinensis var. Assamica and Camellia sinensis var. Sinensis, both of which produce fruit and small white flowers. Camellia sinensis prefer cooler higher terrains, where the changing seasons produce small, lush, sweet leaves perfect for green, white and oolong teas. Assamica thrive in hotter, tropical climates where the climate promotes repeated harvests throughout the year. These robust plants are perfect for creating black teas as well as the more processed pu’erh, oolong or smoked teas.
Once harvested the tea leaves are processed in different ways to produce different ‘varieties’ of tea.