My love of tea started very early in my life. Like most Southerners, I was introduced to iced tea at a young age. Over the years I have experimented with various flavors of iced and hot tea and all of the varieties of tea.
This is my hot/iced tea collection--including all varieties of tea.
All tea comes from the same plant, a first cousin to our southern camellia bush--Camellia Senensis (a warm-weather evergreen).
It is the region it was grown, time of year picked, stages of processing, and contact with oxygen that determines the types of tea and their flavors.
Stages of Tea Processing:
Withering--done by spreading tea leaves to wither and become limp.
Rolling--done by machinery to rupture the leaf cells.
Oxidation--process that exposes the leaf juices to air.
Firing--done by applying heat to stop any further chemical changes and dry the leaf.
Sorting--grades the sizes of the leaf.
Varieties of Tea:
White Tea--is produced in Southeast China. It has a very delicate, sweet and light flavor and has very little caffeine. This is the least processed tea and is high in antioxidants.
Green Tea--is produced in China & Japan. It has a grassy, vegetal or nutty taste. It is non-oxidized and high in antioxidants.
Oolong Tea--is produced in China and Taiwan. It has a rich and fruity taste. It is partially oxidized and aids in digestion.
Black Tea--is produced in China, India, and Sri Lanka. It has a rich taste and can be enjoyed with milk, lemon, sugar, or honey. It is fully oxidized and may help to lower your cholesterol.
Tisanes--are herbal infusions and made from flowers, bark, fruit, and leaves; not from the tea plant.
Rooibos--is produced in South Africa and has a sweet and nutty flavor. It is caffeine-free and high in antioxidants, rich in vitamins, and natural minerals.
I truly cannot pick a favorite variety of tea. I love them all! Obviously, I’m partial to Harney Teas. I have been sipping their teas for many years and never tasted one I didn’t like.
To sit and have a cup of tea is one of the most relaxing things you can do. It is not the actual drinking of the tea, but the ritual of boiling the water, preparing the tea, and patiently waiting and anticipating some quiet time. It slows you down from your hectic pace and gives you a chance to take a deep breath and relax. It is a gesture of hospitality that is universal.