How and where does tea grow
All the tea we drink - white, green and black - comes from the same CamelliSinensis plant. It is grown in many countries, from China, the homeland of tea, to South America. The traditional growing region is Southeast Asia, but tea is widely cultivated in India, Japan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, in a number of regions of Africa, South America, Europe, Central Asia (Turkey) and the Caucasus (Georgia).
In many countries, you can take a tour of tea plantations, where you will certainly be shown both the plants themselves and the process of their processing. Some lucky ones will even be given a huge basket and sent to harvest.
The most ancient tea plants are found in Southwest China and in the neighboring regions of Upper Burma and Vietnam. The conditions here are ideal for the growth and development of the tea plant: the atmosphere is hot and humid all year round - almost like in the greenhouse of a botanical garden. Under these conditions, the tea bush grows actively throughout the year, continuously producing shoots bearing a large number of dense dark green rather large leaves. The farther north, the smaller the plant, like the tea leaf itself, the less often new leaves appear on the tea bush. Conversely, as you move towards the equator, CameliSinensis becomes more and more like a tree. But in general, tea can grow in a wide geographical zone from the tropics to the middle zone and even in our home,it's just that its production in certain latitudes becomes economically and gastronomically impractical.
A tea plantation usually consists of rows of bushes 1-1.5 m high. The largest mass of leaves grows on tea up to 50-60 years, although tea trees give an excellent harvest in 90-100 years. In favorable conditions, tea grows very actively, up to a meter per year. What is an enabling environment? These are warm summers and autumn (the average daily temperature is not lower than +20 degrees Celsius), but at the same time cold winters (from -3 to +10 degrees Celsius), long daylight hours, moist but well-drained soil, clean and humid air. Also one of the key conditions is the height of the plantation above sea level: it is believed that quality tea can be grown only at an altitude of 1500 m and above.
Black or green: what's the difference
As we said, all the tea we drink - white, green and black - is made from the same plant. What is the difference? It all depends on the degree of fermentation of the tea, or, as the professionals say, the process of enzymatic oxidation. After harvesting, the tea leaves are first laid out on drying frames, where they dry out, gradually getting rid of moisture. Here the leaves lose up to 30% of their water content and acquire the plasticity necessary for the next stage - rolling. When curled, the structure of the tea leaf is destroyed, and the cell sap reacts with oxygen. Rolling is carried out in special machines, rollers, where the leaves are pressed down and soaked in their own juice.
During the rolling process, the integrity of the tea leaf is disrupted and the released enzymes trigger the oxidation (fermentation) process. It can be stopped by drying the tea leaf at a high temperature in tea dryers. The longer the tea leaf is oxidized, the darker its shade becomes.
If the leaf has gone through full fermentation, then it becomes black tea. Green tea is not fermented, so it retains its green color even when brewed. White tea is fermented by 5-7%, but its main difference from green tea is that it is collected from special tea bushes of early vegetation, that is, basically, these are buds and half-open leaves, covered with white pile.
The color of the tea also depends on other factors. It is influenced by the location of the plantation, as well as the relief and height of the area in which the tea grows: the higher it grows, and the more sun hits the tea bush, the lighter it will be. For example, Darjeeling tea grown in an upland area will be much lighter in color than tea grown in a lowland area.
The soil directly affects the color. Tea grown in copper-rich African land has a more pronounced reddish hue.
It is also important to take into account such a criterion as the size of the tea leaf: the finer the tea leaves in the brew, the larger their damaged surface and the more fully the tea gives the taste and color to the water during brewing. The most active extraction is from dust-sized grains (dust), they give color and some kind of taste even in cold water, therefore, manufacturers of tea bags are sometimes accused of using paint - they say, ordinary tea leaves do not stain cold water. But the artificial coloring of tea has nothing to do with it, the laws of chemistry are to blame. For the sake of experiment, you can grind the large-leaf tea leaves, pour cold water and make sure that it will also color the water in the same way.
The benefits of tea
Almost the entire alphabet of vitamins is present in black tea. Drinking black tea stimulates mental work, increases brain activity. The vitamins it contains help to fight inflammatory processes, normalize the functioning of the nervous system (vitamin B1), and also strengthen hair, vascular walls (P), (B2), improve vision (provitamin A - carotene) and are necessary for the prevention of allergic reactions (PP - nicotinic acid). There is also vitamin C in tea. Fresh tea leaves have 4 times more of it than in lemon and orange juice, but during processing, a part is naturally lost. Under the influence of boiling water, vitamin C is practically not destroyed, since it is in combination with tannins.
Black tea contains caffeine. Thanks to caffeine, the work of the cardiovascular system, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract improves. Suppresses the aging process of the skin. Also, black tea helps to establish metabolic processes in cells, thereby contributing to the burning of excess fat and prevents the absorption of unnecessary carbohydrates. But for this you need to drink tea without sugar, milk and cream.
The first thing you pay attention to in green tea, this is its saturation with amino acids. They are presented in the amount of 17 species, among which the most interesting in its effect on the nervous system - glutamic. Green tea has a beneficial effect on the nervous system, strengthening it. It is famous for a large amount of vitamins, especially vitamin C, which strengthens the immune system, as well as vitamin P, due to which the blood vessels are strengthened, their expansion, which, in turn, helps to eliminate spasms, improve blood circulation and maintain blood pressure in normal conditions. Stimulates mental activity, invigorates well, and also regulates blood sugar, reduces hunger, slows down the aging process, prevents cancer by blocking the growth of malignant cells, and helps to accelerate heat exchange, while processing stored fats.which is very useful for losing weight. Calcium combines with phosphorus and manganese to support healthy bones and teeth. Also, green tea is a gentle diuretic that removes only excess fluid, and if you add a little milk to it, you get a very effective remedy for edema.
Fresh white tea of elite varieties strengthens the immune system, heals wounds, and is effective in preventing heart and vascular diseases. A large amount of antioxidants (there are 2 times more of them in white tea than in green tea) prevents aging and reduces the risk of developing cancer. Thanks to this drink, you can strengthen the immune system. White tea is an effective remedy in the prevention of oral cavity diseases, diabetes, it also improves metabolism and contains practically no caffeine.
The material was prepared with the help of Teekanne experts
Photo: Getty Images
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