What is Tea? Tea is a drink made by infusing leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis or Thea sinensis) in hot water.
What are the different kinds of tea? The three main types of tea are green, black and oolong. All three kinds are made from the same plant species. The major differences between them are a result of the different processing methods they undergo. Black teas undergo several hours of fermentation in their preparation; oolong receives less fermentation and green teas are not fermented at all. Tea also comes in grades e.g. bf, fngs, dust, pf etc. that vary in taste, aroma and color.
Where does tea come from? Tea has been an item of trade and tribute for at least three thousand years. It was first cultivated and brewed in China but now some of the best varieties come from India, Sri Lanka and Kenya. Some of the finest oolongs in the world are grown in Taiwan. Japan also produces a considerable amount of green tea, most of which is consumed domestically.
After the British took up tea drinking, they began cultivating the plants native to China in India, Sri Lanka, South Asian countries and East Africa, which today produces a major portion of the world harvest. Tea is also grown commercially in Russia and South America.The best tea, with few exceptions is produced in warm, mountainous regions and tea from each region has its own distinctive characteristic.
Where did the name 'tea' come from? The word for tea in most of mainland China (and also in Japan) is 'cha'. (Hence its frequency in names of Japanese teas: Sencha, Hojicha etc.) But the word for tea in Fujian province is 'te' (pronounced approximately as 'tay'). As luck would have it, the first mass marketers of tea in the West were the Dutch, whose contacts were in Fujian. They adopted this name and handed it on to most of the other European countries. 'Tay' was the pronunciation when the word first entered English. At some time in the early eighteenth century the English changed the pronunciation to 'tee'.