Consumption of tea dates back to five millennia ago and people of all ages and backgrounds have been enjoying it since. As a matter of fact, tea is second to coffee when it comes to popularity. Discovered in China, this beverage has become part of our modern civilization.
Sometimes it is taken on the go or other times it is prepared in special ways particularly in ceremonies. Many types of teas exist today with each boasting of rich history. That being said, let's look at the most interesting facts about this beverage.
Tea was discovered in China thousands of years ago. According to legends, the beverage was accidentally discovered when leaves from a certain tree bush fell into the boiling water meant for Emperor Shen Nong to quench his thirst.
Being a herbalist, the emperor was intrigued by this accidental brew and he enjoyed it so much that the concept of consuming tea was finally born. Originally, tea was taken for medicinal purposes. Mostly, it was chewed instead of drinking as we know today.
Related Article: Learn the History of Tea in China, the Birthplace of Tea
Even though there are different types of teas known today, the truth is they all come from the same species of tree. Whether it is black, oolong, white or green tea, they all come from a plant known as Camellia sinensis. The only difference among them is the way the leaves are processed after they're harvested.
What you need to know is that all tea leaves are processed by weathering, rolling and heating them. Different types of this beverage are created according to the traditional steps or depending on the timing of each step taken before the tea leaves are packaged.
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The most expensive tea to brew is the rare Chinese variety commonly referred to as Tieguanyin. This type of type is named in honor of the Buddhist Iron Goddess of Mercy. Tieguanyin is a type of oolong tea that may cost you as much as $1,500 per pound. The best thing about this tea is that you can brew its leaves up to seven times while enjoying its flavor.
But why is it costly? This type of tea truly tickles all the five senses which include sight, touch, sound, smell, and taste. If you can enjoy Tieguanyin tea you should consider yourself one of the lucky few people who can afford it and also have such a sensational experience.
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Besides its external healing properties, this type of tea is also regarded as a superfood. The term 'superfood' is used here to refer to any type of food or drinks with nutrients that benefit your body in one way or the other.
beneficial properties of tea have been known since the dawn of history to this date. It is believed that green tea helps in soothing the sore throat, reducing risks of heart disease and regulating blood sugar levels.
Many compounds found in green tea contribute so much to its healing benefits. Compounds such as catechins and flavonoids offer antiviral, antioxidant, anticancer and antibacterial properties. In addition, green tea aids in weight loss, alleviating depression and prevention of tooth decay.
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Tea has also found its way into the Guinness World Records. The largest teabag ever recorded weighed more than 550 pounds, measured 9.8x13 feet and could brew more than 100,000 cups of tea.
This record was achieved by Ahmed Mohamed Saleh Baeshen and Company, the owner and founder of Rabea Tea in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in 2014. Other records include the largest cup that measures 10x8 feet and the Most-Cups-Made-in-One-Hour which comprised of 1,848 cups made by a team of 12 people.
China, Kenya, and Sri Lanka export most tea used worldwide today. The three countries ship approximately 1 million metric tons of this beverage annually. However, despite being one of the largest exporters of tea, China is also the leading country when it comes to drinking tea.
This is due to its huge population and affection for this drink. When it comes to per capita, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Turkey take the top slots among the countries that drink tea the most. Much to your surprise, more than 3 billion cups are consumed annually across the world.
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Tisane is the type of beverage that does not contain Camellia Sinensis leaves. This is not actual tea as you may have thought although it is similar in the way it is processed and consumed. With this drink, all you have to do is to steep it by adding hot water. Tisane is normally infused with different types of herbs or spices from a variety of flora and fauna.
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The traditional English afternoon tea is famous among different classes of people in the West. This tea is typically prepared and served from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. If it is served any time beyond 3:00 pm, it is then referred to as High tea. During the High tea time, more substantial food is also offered. But Cream Tea is normally served in Cornwall and Devon.
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This type of beverage is served mostly in Japan. Genmaicha is a combination of Green Tea and Roasted Brown Rice. The beverage became popular and widespread as part of the Japanese staple diet during the times when there was a shortage of other meals.
Did you ever know that tea absorbs moisture? If not then it is time you observed the behavior of this beverage. Tea naturally absorbs a lot of moisture if left uncovered properly. Therefore, you should consider covering your tea in a dry and sealed container when keeping it for future use.
On the other hand, you should also follow the procedure and guidelines for freezing tea. Keep in mind that tea, just like many other products, ages with time and that’s why it is should be wrapped in a special greaseproof paper when storing it.
Related Article: How to Store Loose Leaf Tea Properly?
Compared to other types of teas, black tea undergoes the most oxidation processes and for a good reason. Most of the tea experts believe that black tea is actually at the end of the spectrum for its ability to produce a more potent flavor. On the contrary, the white tea is on the opposite end of the spectrum such that it is the least oxidized.
Related Article: Tea Fermentation and Oxidation - Knowing the Difference
Tea is a valuable crop, especially to the farmer. At the moment, tea takes number 31 as the most valuable crop according to the crop/livestock league table. The Tea Global market is projected to reach 44.3 billion towards the end of 2020. At the moment, this beverage generates approximately $5.5 billion in sales from ready-to-drink teas.
According to the Guinness World Records, the most expensive teapot was commissioned in London by a Charity. The name of the teapot is the ‘Egoist’ and its value was determined by the materials used in its construction. The teapot featured a stunning inlay of 386 rubies, 1658 diamonds, 18 c gold at the base and a huge ivory handle.
Related Article: How to Value Antique Teapots? Antique Teapot Appraisal
This type of tea is compressed into different forms or shapes. Each shape is named differently with the most common ones taking the names such as Beeng, Bing, Disc or Cake. Other forms include the Bowl, Toucha or Nest which are in the form of balls. There is also the Dragon Pearl, Melon and Gold Melon which are all round in shape. The rest come in square, brick and mushroom forms.
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Due to the growing popularity of tea in the early 20th Century, many people used tea (especially the Pu-Erh Tea) as some form of currency. In this case, tea was shaped into discs or different molds that were used across Asia as a means of exchange (currency). Places such as Mongolia, China, Russia, Siberia, and Tibet saw an increase in the use of tea as a common currency in their trades.
This fact will blow your mind especially if you are not a tea farmer. Most of the tea-producing plantations are located in places that have an altitude ranging from 3000 to 7000 feet above sea level.
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Countries known for the production of tea world over include China, Japan, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, India, and Kenya. In addition to this list, there are newly emerging but less well-known countries and regions that produce tea as well. Colombia, Nepal, Georgia, the UK, and the USA are a few countries on this list of newcomers of tea production.
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Many people believe that the most desirable and tasty green tea is produced between early April and mid-May. This period falls within the first harvest of tea each year.
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Tea reading is popularly known as Tasseography. The term 'Tasseography' is derived from the word 'Tasse' which is a French word that means cup. This technique was extended to the art of reading coffee grains as well as wine. Apparently, no one can tell the origin of reading tea leaves.
Related Article: How to Read Tea Leaves? The Complete Guide to Tasseography
Also known as the 'Afternoon Tea', Low Tea is normally prepared and served in the drawing-room. Both the 'High Tea' and Low Tea' are popular terms that refer to the height of the tables they are served. These names have no connection with the time of the day.
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Some people believe that black tea can offer a short-term cosmetic remedy for swollen or puffy eyes. Moisture from the two recently used teabags is used to control puffiness around the eyes. The moisture is cooled and then applied over the affected eyes for a period not exceeding 15 minutes.
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Even though the afternoon tea is associated with the British, this popular beverage does not have a long history in the United Kingdom. In fact, tea became the drink of choice among the English aristocrats back in the 17th century.
At the time it was relatively costly due to the government's high taxes. This led to tea smuggling in the 18th century where smugglers brought huge supplies of tea in the UK without paying taxes. The untaxed tea was sold cheaply to many people.
In 1785 the government lowered tea taxes to discourage smuggling. As a result, tea became affordable. However, the temperance movement encouraged working-class Britons to consume take rather than liquor. In 1800 the first tea shop was established in the country. By the end of the 1800s, tea was the most popular beverage across social classes.
Related Article: The History of Tea in Britain. Who Brought Tea to England?
In the 17th century, some thinkers came up with all sorts of stories about the consumption of tea. They preached against taking too much tea because they thought it could cause some health problems.
Such allegations were widespread in different parts of the world. In 1706 a French physician published a report (treatise ) known as "Wholesome Advice against the consumption of hot liquors, such as chocolate, tea, brandy, coffee, and strong-waters,".
The treatise urged moderation in taking tea on the allegations that the drink heated the internal parts of the body, causing serious sickness and death. At the same time, John Wesly, a founder-member of Methodism, argued that drinking tea caused nervous disorders. He later advocated for tea abstinence.
In 2014 a 56-year-old-man experienced some health complications after taking too much tea. The man encountered kidney problems after taking 16 glasses of tea per day.
In this regard, too much tea leads to a higher concentration of oxalate (mainly found in black tea) and this can cause renal failure. So, you should control your tea drinking habit if you want to avoid some health complications later in life.
In the real sense, herbal tea is not real tea as you may have thought. Normally this type of tea blends does not contain the actual tea leaves. That is the reason it is usually referred to as caffeine-free tea. This drink is a concoction of different types of spices and herbs including other plants such as hibiscus, mint, and chamomile.
Related Article: Is There Tea in Herbal Tea?
Before the invention of individual tea bags, drinking a cup of hot tea required you to brew a whole pot. Given that no one likes reheating a cold and stale cup of tea, this resulted in more waste.
However, at the beginning of the 20th century, a tea merchant started sending several tea samples out in small silk bags. Those who received these tiny tea bags did not know that they were required to remove the tea and throw away empty bags. Instead, they put the whole tea bags in hot water and used them while still holding some amount of tea.
The tea merchant realized the confusion and replaced the silk bags with the gauze ones to make the use of tea bags easy. That's how tea bags came into existence. During World War I, soldiers were supplied with several tea bags each as part of their food rations. Ever since teabags became a normal part of enjoying tea everywhere in the world.
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Even though it is difficult to prove that tea influences health, numerous studies have shown that this beverage is associated with a number of health benefits. These interesting findings are mainly based on the populations that are often subjected to such research.
Taking several cups of tea in a day is believed to lower risks of depression, stroke, liver disease, and type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, some myths about the health benefits of drinking tea have been blown out of proportion leading to wrong results.
Related Article: Pu-erh Tea: 10 Health Benefits You Should Know About
Unlike other places on the planet, a staggering 85% of Americans prefer their tea served cold. That's why most of the tea outlets in the US sell iced tea.
Related Article: History of Tea in the USA. How Tea Came to the United States?
By the mid-1700s, tea replaced gin and ale as the most popular beverage among different groups of people.
Tea is one of the most preferred refreshing beverages in most parts of the world. This drink tastes great and has been found to contain no sodium, fat or sugar. On top of that, tea is naturally calorie-free besides contributing so much to water intake as a way of promoting hydration.
When prepared at home, tea costs as low as three cents for every glass or cup served. This explains why tea is considered one of the most economical drinks available to most people. Even the most expensive teas in the world are less than 10% per serving.
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Tea remains the most widely consumed drink (beverage) across the globe and is available almost everywhere. Unlike other beverages, tea is served either hot or iced any time of the day and anywhere including on many occasions. From the facts highlighted above, you can easily tell that tea is still popular and will remain that way until the end of time.