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China is the birthplace of Tea. It was here some 5,000 years ago that your favourite infusion became a possibility. Chinese Tea continues to impress casual drinkers and connoisseurs alike, which is why we stock many types. Why not browse our vast selection at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company? We pack each one fresh to order, thus ensuring both quality and consistency.
According to a legend from 2737 BCE, it was an ancient Chinese emperor called Shennong who discovered tea. The story goes that he had come to rest underneath an unknown tree with a cup of boiling water by his side. He eventually fell asleep in the midday sun, only to wake and find leaves in his drink. They had appeared to infuse with the water. Shennong, an avid herbalist, tried the creation - and loved it.
This was Chinese Green Tea, which became widespread throughout China and beyond. Chinese Black Tea came many centuries later, though again the product of pure accident. The first type was Lapsang Souchong, a Smoked Tea made by farmers attempting to dry the leaves hastily over a fire. A chemical reaction consequently took place, changing them from green to brown to black.
Yet, it is Green Tea’s Chinese roots that have been most intertwined with the country’s culture and traditions. Perhaps most noteworthy is a Chinese Tea Ceremony, which takes place on a couple’s wedding day. It involves the bride and the groom serving Tea to their parents, in-laws and other relatives, symbolising the union of two families. Here are the basics of how to do a Chinese Tea ceremony:
The couple, typically dressed in their formal attire, will kneel before their elders and serve them Chinese Sencha Green Tea. Others in attendance include the bridesmaids, who often act as attendants - making the Tea, handing over Teacups and washing the utensils. There are no set rules as to which type should be present, although it is usually Sencha. But what are the other varieties?
There are hundreds of types of Chinese Tea. These collectively account for around 40% of the world’s total output, amounting to 2.4 million tonnes annually. Tea grows in regions across the country, including (but not limited to) Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Yunnan and Zhejiang. Each area boasts unique conditions that provide equally distinct traits to the leaves produced.
Take Keemun Tea, which comes from Qimen County of Anhui Province. When brewed, it tends to have a lightly sweet, smooth and malty note. Dragon Well couldn’t be more different. It is a Green Tea from Zhejiang Province considered reminiscent of nuts and butter. Then there is Yunnan Province’s Pu erh, a fermented Tea famous for its earthy and woody winds. The possibilities are almost endless.
Is there caffeine in Chinese Tea? So long as we’re talking about so-called “real” Tea from the Camellia sinensis (Tea) plant, that much is guaranteed. Indeed, regardless of whether you have Green, White, Black or Oolong Tea, each contains the stimulant. Even trace amounts exist in Decaf Tea. To what extent workers process the leaves is the biggest contributor to varying caffeine levels in Tea.
Chinese Black Tea varieties, most of which undergo heavy oxidation, have the highest content at around 45-mg per 8-oz cup. Then there is Oolong - known as the “in-between Tea” - with its 35-37-mg. Green Tea is the second least processed and, as a result, has 30-mg. That leaves White Tea with 15-mg. What they all have in common is the health benefits of Chinese Loose Tea.
People have become increasingly aware of what they consume and how it impacts their physical and mental self. The good news is that Chinese Tea, no matter the type, provides support. Every kind contains vitamins, minerals and other antioxidants capable of combating free radicals in the body. Frequently drinking it, in other words, offers protection on a molecular level.
Studies indicate that it reduces your risk of developing a multitude of chronic conditions from cardiovascular disease to type-2 diabetes to even, potentially, cancer. And that’s just the beginning. Research likewise suggests that it bolsters the immune system, aids digestion, enhances cognitive function and relieves mild anxiety. There is even the chance of dropping a few extra pounds!
It is difficult to determine the best Chinese Tea for weight loss. Perhaps it is Green Matcha, which evidence shows can increase thermogenesis (the body’s rate of burning calories) from an average of 8-10% of daily expenditure to 35-43%? Or maybe it is Pu erh Tea, which, according to a study by the United States Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, boosts the metabolism of fat cells.
Similar traits have been recognised in White Tea. A 2009 study published in Nutrition and Metabolism can shed further light. It concluded that it effectively reduced the deposition of triglycerides in human adipocytes (fat cells) and promoted the breakdown of fats. Take comfort, too, in knowing that, whichever one you have, it will contain no more than two calories per serving.
A Chinese Weight Loss Tea can lower blood pressure just as well. One meta-analysis makes a compelling case. It looked into twenty-five randomised controlled trials (considered the gold standard in modern science), the findings of which appeared extraordinarily promising. The conclusion was that, while a short term application might have a limited influence, long term use could reduce blood pressure considerably.
Another meta-analysis of thirteen Green Tea studies examined its ability to improve heart health on a broader scale. Markers included not only blood pressure but cholesterol levels and other such signs for related diseases. It established, among other qualities, that those who drank the “most” Green Tea reduced the risk of developing coronary artery disease by up to 28%.
Assuming that you don’t intend to host a lavish Tea Ceremony every day, it’s probably best that we show you how to brew Chinese Tea “normally.” Let’s start with Loose Leaf Black Tea. You’ll first need to buy either a Tea Filter or Infuser to avoid unnecessary mess. Once you have one of these items to hand, as well as, of course, the Tea itself, please follow the instructions here:
1, Put Loose Tea in a Filter or Infuser.
2, Place the Tea-filled accessory in a cup.
3, Boil water and pour it over the Tea.
4, Allow it to steep for 3-5 minutes.
How to Serve: Consider having Milk or a Milk Alternative for Tea, sugar, honey or lemon.
Brewing Loose Chinese Green Tea can be a little more complicated. The temperature of the water, for starters, needs to be cooler; otherwise, you risk burning the leaves. How long you allow it to steep, too, will play a significant role. Any longer than two or three minutes and it might taste bitter. But providing you adhere to these rules, you’re in for a treat. Here is your step-by-step guide:
1, Put Loose Leaf Tea into a Tea Infuser or Filter.
2, Place the accessory in a mug or cup.
3, Boil fresh water and allow it to cool to temperatures between 80 and 90°C.
4, Infuse for 1 to 3 minutes.
How to Serve: Consider honey or lemon. Alternatively, serve without accompaniments.
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