Writer Doris Lessing said that she could not be certain whether she would be alive the next day, but that if she were, she would definitely drink tea. Tea is an all-encompassing love for many people, not least because of the wonderful warmth it gives us when we drink it in the wintertime.
There are quite a few legends concerning the history of tea. Perhaps the most famous of these is a Chinese legend. Around 3,000 B.C., Emperor Shennong was sitting under a tree in the springtime, holding a cup of hot water. A few leaves from the tree above him fluttered down and fell into his cup. The water quickly turned a golden color, and the Emperor found it delicious, soothing and stimulating. For thousands of years, this was recounted as the story of tea’s discovery.
In Turkey, tea drinking is just another excuse for conversation. So it’s not just coffee that brings 40 years of friendship, as we say in Turkey, but also tea. Of course, every culture has its traditions and history related to tea, but all cultures place great importance on tea. In many eastern cultures, if tea is offered and the other rejects it, this is seen as an insult to the server. In Japanese culture, tea ceremonies are held according to strict rules and traditions. At these ceremonies, tea is prepared like a work of art before it is served to guests.
For centuries tea has been known in China as the cure of a thousand afflictions. It used to be the drink of only the upper classes and monks. But as time passed, it began to spread through the other ranks of society. After further time had passed — by now, the start of the 17th century — tea was brought to Europe by the Dutch. For a long while after, the tea trade was dominated by the British, who added milk to their tea. This is why so many Western and Central European countries brew their tea in that way. In fact, the whole tradition of “tea at five” began during the reign of Queen Victoria. Nowadays, many British people enjoy both salty and sweet treats with their afternoon tea. As for tea’s entrance into Russian culture, this first occurred in the 17th century, when the Czar’s family began to drink it. As in other countries, when tea first appeared in Russia it too was a drink of the aristocrats. Brewed in samovars in Russia, people would eat jellies and marmalades with the tea for sweetness. Those who were really devoted to getting the maximum pleasure out of tea would drink it from delicate glasses or porcelain cups. As Chinese philosopher Tien Yiheng once noted, “Tea is drunk in order to forget the chaos and confusion of the world.” There are of course many different kinds of tea consumed around the world. We decided to compile a list of at least of few of them, along with some of their most significant characteristics.
The right herb for everything
Black tea: This is the most popular kind of tea in the world, and it is categorized according to where it is grown, how it is processed and, of course, its taste. Perhaps the best-known black teas in the world are Assam, Ceylon and Darjeeling. These teas have a positive effect on blood circulation in the brain, keep people feeling healthy, help stomach and intestinal problems, reduce tension, balance cholesterol and even strengthen teeth thanks to their natural fluoride content.
Green tea: An indispensible part of Asian culture, green tea has other characteristics than those of black tea. For centuries this tea was used for medicinal purposes in both China and Japan, but recently its popularity has risen quite a bit in America and Europe. The reason for this, of course, is its many health benefits. It protects against cancer, increases concentration levels, nourishes the skin and even works to fight wrinkles. It also protects the heart, lungs and teeth, while helping people lose weight and controlling diabetes.
Hibiscus: Tea extracted from this delicate purple herb is good for infections of the throat and mouth, helps the digestive system and keeps the skin soft.
Chamomile: This tea is known to be a muscle relaxant as well as a great defense against infection. It is even used as a soothing balm for wounds. People under excessive stress can also drink this tea to help their sleeping habits and find calm.
Rosehip: This tea contains high levels of vitamin C and is wonderful in the winter to fight cold and flu. Its other benefits are a strengthening of the immune system, soothing fevers, cleaning the urinary tract and kidneys and improving intestinal function.
Linden tea: Known as a soothing herb, linden tea is great for colds, coughs, stomach aches, migraines and rheumatism-related problems.
Sage tea: Sage has been widely used as a medicinal herb since the Middle Ages, and just as it helps to rid the body of toxins, it also prevents sweating and has a soothing effect. It is also known as a remedy for throat complaints, headaches, bronchitis and asthma.
Anise tea: Anise tea is often given to babies, as it is very effective against stomach and intestinal problems. It improves swollen, bloated stomachs, clears the lungs, aids asthma and bronchitis and strengthens the appetite.
Mint tea: With all its freshness, mint tea is good for bad breath, migraines, sore throats and headaches. It also eases digestion and helps with upset stomachs.
Aromatic teas: Both green and black tea can be mixed with vanilla, jasmine, cinnamon, orange or bergamot to obtain different tastes and scents. In such teas, natural or artificial flavorings may be used.
Is loose tea better for brewing than tea bags?
There are many questions about how healthy tea bags are, as suspicions remain about the materials used to make the bags. While true tea devotees may lean towards loose tea, some prefer the ease of tea bags. While loose tea uses larger bits of leaf, tea bags often use smaller, almost dust-like pieces.