Tea

TeaTea — Tea is an infusion made by steeping processed leaves, buds, or twigs of the tea bush, Camellia sinensis, in hot water for a few minutes. The processing can include oxidation, heating, drying, and the addition of other herbs, flowers, spices, and fruits. The four basic types of true tea are black tea, oolong tea, green tea, and white tea. The term “herbal tea” usually refers to infusions or tisane of fruit or herbs that contain no Camellia sinensis . This article is concerned exclusively with the tea plant C. sinensis.

Tea is one of the most widely-consumed beverages in the world. It has a cooling, slightly bitter, astringent flavor. It has almost no carbohydrates, fat, or protein. Tea is a natural source of the amino acid theanine, methylxanthines such as caffeine and theobromine, and polyphenolic antioxidant catechins.

Camellia sinensis is an evergreen plant and grows in tropical to sub-tropical climates. In addition to tropical climates (at least 50 inches of rainfall a year), it also prefers acidic soils. Many high quality tea plants grow at elevations up to 1500 meters (5,000 ft), as the plants grow more slowly and acquire a better flavor. Only the top 1-2 inches of the mature plant are picked. These buds and leaves are called flushes, and a plant will grow a new flush every seven to ten days during the growing season.

Teas have been cultivated for thousands of years in Asia. Based on differences in morphology between Camellia sinensis var. assamica and Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, botanists have long asserted a dual botanical origin for tea. Camellia sinensis var. assamica is native to the area from Yunnan province, China to the northern region of Burma and the state of Assam in India. Camellia sinensis var. sinensis is native to eastern and southeastern China.

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