Tea Facts

1. The first reference to tea goes back nearly 5000 years with many countries having their own versions of how tea was discovered.  According to Chinese literature, Emperor Shen Nung, who was known as the “Divine Healer”, would routinely boil his drinking water before consuming it. As the story goes, one day some leaves from a nearby tree fell into the pot, which resulted in an excellent tasting and fragrant beverage. According to legend, tea was discovered.  Tea grows on bushes which are usually kept pruned to a 3 foot height, but left unattended in the wild, may easily grow to a tree of 25-30 feet high.

2.  Over 80% of the tea consumed within the United States is consumed as an iced beverage.

3.  In the United States, tea is the 6thmost popular beverage, trailing behind water, soft drinks, coffee, beer and milk.

4.  Water is the most popular beverage in the world, with tea being second.

5.  Iced tea was discovered accidentally by, of all people, an Englishman – Richard Blechynden who had come all the way from Calcutta, India to represent teas from the Far East at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair. Not meeting with much success in the stifling heat, Mr. Blechynden poured the tea over ice and it met with near instant success.

6.  Also in 1904, Thomas Sullivan, a tea and coffee merchant in New York is credited with the accidental discovery of tea bags.  To control costs, he sent out his tea to potential buyers in small silk sacks as opposed to the customary tin cans. The recipients of the samples did not bother to remove the tea form the silk sack and brewed up the tea in that form. To Mr. Sullivan’s astonishment, orders began to pour in for tea in little bags!

7.  Consumption of tea started at approximately the same time in the U.K. and the U.S.A.

8.  The Irish consume more tea on a per capita basis than any other nationality.  The Irish consume 7.1 pounds of tea annually equivalent to 1,417 cups per year or nearly 4 per day.  By comparison, the British consume 5.74 pounds per person or 3.2 cups per day and in the U.S.,  0.75 pounds equivalent to about a 1/2 cup per day.

9.  Contrary to popular perception, Orange Pekoe is not a flavoring at all.  It simply connotes a certain size of tea leaf (usually the largest piece of leaf available).  Over the years, through marketing efforts, the name has acquired an image associated with high quality.   The correct pronunciation is ‘peck o’, not ‘peek o’.

10.  According to FDA figures, published in the March 1984 FDA Consumer, on average a 5 ounce cup of tea contains 40 milligrams of caffeine and a 5 ounce cup of coffee between 80 and 115 milligrams depending upon the method of brewing.  Contrary to popular belief, green tea and black tea have the same caffeine content.  Both types of tea are derived from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, and the type of processing differences between the two types of tea has little to no effect on the caffeine content.

11.  Assam, Darjeeling and Nilgiri are India’s three major tea-producing regions that are world-renowned.

12.  India is the largest producer of tea in the world. China is next, followed by Sri Lanka and Japan.

13.  Ceylon, the former name for Sri Lanka, is about the size of the Republic of Ireland and over half a million of its acres grow tea. This acreage makes Sri Lanka the world’s third largest tea producer. Much of the Ceylon tea grows at very high altitudes and is admired around the world for its distinctive aroma and golden color.

14. Sri Lanka is the largest exporter of tea. China is next followed by India and Japan.

15.  Kenya is Africa’s leading tea-producing nation.  Kenyan teas are known for their bright, brick-red color and powerful flavor.

16.  The price of tea is set as a result of auction bidding or direct negotiation between the buyer and seller.  It is not formally traded in a commodity exchange.

17. A cup of tea brewed from loose leaf tea will have a more superior taste than a cup brewed from the same leaves in a tea bag form.  The nuances will be small, but due to the fact that the larger loose leaf sizes will have more room to expand, the leaves are able to give up all of  the flavor which they have to offer.  Loose tea also adds to the overall mood and “romance” of tea.

18. Loose leaf teas should not be placed in a refrigerator since the change in temperatures when the product is used could contribute to “sweating” which could lead to mold formation and deterioration of quality.  Similarly, tea should be allowed to breathe so that excess moisture may safely evaporate.

19.  Each of the various teas has a different flavor and aroma, but there are some generalizations made about tea flavor profiles.  Malt, chocolate, sweet potatoes, vanilla, chestnuts, green bell peppers, field grass, spinach, lemon zest, asparagus, honey, orchid,  peat moss, butter, bamboo shoots, apricot, peach, licorice, raisins, old-growth forest notes are just a few of the tea tasting notes found in the flavor profiles of black, green (pan fired and steamed), oolong, white and pu-erh teas.

Source: Tea Association of the USA, Inc.

 

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