Most of you are aware about my love for tea! I have written couple of posts on this topic, usually about certain places where you get best of the tea possible. But this post is going to be slightly different, and maybe boring for many of you as i am going to talk about the history of tea and some general information!
Tea was discovered in China in as early as 2737 BC by Emperor Shen Nung – a divine healer. Ah, such a great discovery and no controversy to it? Not possible. A Japanese legend claims that tea was originally discovered by and Indian hermit called Bodhidharma or Daruma (as he is known in Japan). He is said to have travelled from India to China in 526 BC and was allotted a cave temple for him to meditate for nine years. He however fell asleep during meditation and on awaking he was so enraged at his own blunder that he tore of his tired eyelids and threw them away. A plant grew from the eyelid thrown away whose leaves were found to possess the unique property to drive away sleep! Yes, that plant was the tea plant.
There are couple of more such stories, all as or more weird than the Indian discovering it! Some Sanskrit scholar believes that the mythical Sanjeevani Plant mentioned in the Epic Ramayana was actually a tea plant! Another interesting thing is that tea was mentioned in the Chinese Dictionary in 350 BC. Chinese started using tea as medicine during the 4th Century!
Tea became a popular drink in England in 1664 and was introduced in India in the year 1780. The Assam Tea Plant was discovered in the year 1823, but large scale planting of tea in India started in the year 1834. Tea cultivation was started in South India in the year 1859. Today, India is the largest tea producer in the world.
Grades of Tea – there are mainly three classes of grades of tea; 1) Leaf, 2) Broken and 3) Dust. The leaf grades are large in size. In brewing, flavour and colour come out of these grades very slowly, but they produce flavoury liquor. The broken grades are of smaller size with fragmented leaves. They are quick in brewing and give a darker brew while the smallest particles ie dust (the name does not suggest anything derogatory to quality) brews very quickly and produce strong and coloured liquor.
Types of Tea – the Kanan Devan tea factory at Munnar, Kerala produces five types of tea – white tea, green tea, oolong tea, black orthodox and black CTC (Crush, tear and curl).
Medicinal value of tea – tea works as an anti-oxidant, stimulant, anti-bacterial agent and astringent. To use tea as a medicine, it should be prepared in the following manner:
- Take fresh boiled water and heat it up till the first bubbles appear.
- Meanwhile take one or two spoonfuls of tea of your choice in a preheated vessel.
- Pour the boiled water on the tea leaves/dust.
- Cover the vassel with a lid for 3 to 5 minutes for infusion. Strain the brew using a strainer.
- Add milk and sugar/honey to taste.