Time for tea to break out of its ‘tea bag’ shell.

Perhaps there is nothing more frustrating than seeing all tea lumped into the same category, with the plant being as diverse as it is. More often than not tea is experienced only through a tea bag. The tea bag is steeped for a few minutes in boiling water, and then removed. Black tea? Toss in some milk and sugar. Green tea? Drink it plain.

While the tea bag industry is booming and the manufacturing process immense – it does nothing to enhance our knowledge about the different varieties of tea available for our enjoyment. The beverage industry is saturated with large boxes of tea bags and ‘Ready-to-Drink’ bottled tea beverages where the sugar to tea ratio is severely unbalanced.

The reality is that tea is a diverse beverage grown in over forty countries around the world. Several varietals of the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) are cultivated worldwide and make up the five main tea categories: Pu’erh, Black, Green, Oolong and White. You may see some countries add a sixth category, Yellow tea. It’s important to note that each category should be brewed according to varying water temperatures and steeping times, see here.

The infused liquor of your tea, its aroma and its flavour profile is a true reflection of terroir, manufacturing method and production style. Terroir comprises environmental elements such as climate, geography, elevation and soil type. Tea is graded and priced accordingly, and can be made up of a blend of teas or only contain one type of tea. The bottom line is that tea goes far beyond what is contained within a tea bag; it is a true expression of where it was grown and how it was made.

Did you learn something new about tea? Let us know in the comments below!

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