|camelia tea plant|
HISTORY: Tea was discovered by accident over 5000 years when leaves from a tea bush accidently dropped into some boiling water and delicately flavoured the drink. Tea was originally drunk for its medicinal benefits and it was not until the 1700’s that it began to be consumed as the delicious beverage that we know today.
What is tea? Tea is prepared from the leaf bud and top leaves of a tropical evergreen bush called Camellia sinesis. It produces what is regarded as a healthy beverage containing approximately only half the caffeine of coffee and at the same time it aids muscle relaxation and stimulates the central nervous system.
Tea is grown in more than 25 countries around the world. The crop benefits from acidic soil and warm climate and where there is at least 130cm of rain a year. It is an annual crop and its flavour, quality and character is affected by the location, altitude, type of soil and the climate.
The main tea producing countries are-
• India- largest producer
• Sri lanka
• East Africa( Kenya, Zimbabwe, Tanzania)
PURCHASING OF TEA
Depending on the type of function, clientele, method of service, type of establishment, storage facilities and cost, tea may be purchased in a variety of ways-
2. Tea bags
3. String and tag
BLENDThe word blend indicates that a named tea in the market is up for sale may be composed for a variety of tea to produce one marketable product acceptable to the average consumer’s palate, for ex. a standard tea may be a blend of Indian Tea for strength, African tea for colour and Chinese tea for flavour and delicacy.
STORAGE• Tea should be stored in the following manner
• In a dry, cleaned and covered container
• In a well-ventilated area
• Away from excess moisture
• Must not be kept near any strong smelling food as tea absorbs odour very quickly
MAKING OF TEATea is an infusion and thus maximum flavour is required from the brew. Few rules to be followed are-
1. Ensure all equipments used are clean
2. Heat the tea pot before putting in the dry tea so that the maximum heat can be obtained from the brew
3. Measure the dry tea and freshly drawn cold water exactly
4. Use freshly boiled water
5. Make sure that the water is boiling on entering the pot
6. Allow it to brew for 3-4 minutes, to obtain maximum strength from the brew
7. Remove the tea leaves at the end of this period if making if making in multi pot insulated urns
TYPES OF TEA1. Black tea- soon after plucking, leaves are subjected to the withering process. The leaves are spread on a perforated rack under the sun till their moisture content reaches 50%. During monsoon, hot air may be used to wither the leaves. The next step is bruising the leaves gently either by tossing them in a basket or gently crushing so as to tear the leaves slightly. The chlorophyll breaks down and tannins are released. The leaves rapidly turn black at this stage because of oxidation, i.e. due to contact with air. This is known as fermentation in the tea industry despite the fact that no action of yeast or microbes takes place. Finally the leaves are heated to stop the process of oxidation at a predetermined stage to reduce the moisture content to 3% and below. This result in black tea which is then packed and marketed.
2. Green tea- it is obtained when leaves are withered, steamed, dried, rolled, and packed. This tea Is not subjected to fermentation. All tea producing countries make green tea. It is considered to be the best tea for health.
3. Oolong tea- it is made by withering leaves, tossing them in basket to get little bruises, oxidizing partially, baking, rolling, drying and finally fruing.
Steps in tea processingBlack tea
Fresh tea leaves-sorting and cleaning-withering-cutting/rolling-full fermentation-drying
Fresh tea leaves-sorting and cleaning-withering-steaming/panfrying-drying. rolling, and shaping.
Fresh tea leaves-sorting and cleaning-withering-bruising leaf edges-short fermentation-pan frying- drying.
The manufacturing processBlack tea goes though four main steps of manufacture:
The objective of withering is to reduce the moisture content in the tea leaf. The plucked leaves are laid out in troughs where air is passed through the tea, removing the moisture. This can take up to 17 hours and by the end of the process the leaves have a wilted appearance.
There are two types of rolling:
Orthodox Where the leaves are rolled between rollers until gently broken.
CTC (Cut, Tear, Curl) Where a machine cuts and tears the leaves into smaller pieces.
The purpose of this process is to break the leaves so the enzymes are released and the third step of oxidation begins.
The broken leaves are laid out to oxidise or ferment. This part of the process is very important as this will significantly impact the overall taste and quality of the tea. This can take up to two hours.
To stop the oxidation process, the tea leaves are heated. The dried tea is now ready to be sorted into grades before packing.
Assam Tea- it is rich and has full malty flavour. Suitable for service at breakfast and is served with milk
Darjeeling Tea- a delicate tea with grape flavour and known as the ‘Champagne of teas’. Usually served as an afternoon or evening tea with either lemon or little milk if preferred.
Earl grey Tea- a blend of Darjeeling and china tea, flavoured with oil of bergamot. Usually served with lemon or milk.
Jasmine- A green tea which is dried with jasmine. It blossoms and produces a tea which has a scented flavour.
Kenya tea- this tea is referred to as” refreshing tea”. It is served with milk.
Lapsangsauchang- It is smoky, pungent, perfumed tea. It is delicate to the palate and is said to have acquired taste and is served with lemon.
Tisanes- It is a fruit flavoured tea and has herbal infusions. It is used for medicinal purposes and is gaining popularity since the trend is towards healthy eating and drinking. Often these so not contain caffeine.
Srilanka makes a pale golden tea with good flavour. Ceylon blend is still used as a trade name, served with lemon and milk.
CTC- Machinery processed tea, usually from Assam, Sri Lanka and parts of Africa and South America. The processing has three stages (crush, tear, curl or cut, tear, curl), hence the name “CTC” tea. The resultant product looks like small pellets of (usually black) tea. It produces a very strongly flavored, quickly infusing tea that is often used in teabags.