Though tea is historically known as a health drink, it is known to be the most consumed beverage in the world today, after only water! Here are some sip-a-licious facts about tea that we bet will make you enjoy your tea a little more than you did before!
China is hands down the largest producer of tea. It produces 1,700,000 tonnes a year approximately, which is almost 35% of what was produced worldwide. India comes second in the list as it produces an average of 900,094 tonnes per year. India is a nation of over one billion tea drinkers – 70% of the tea produced in the country is consumed within the country itself!
Though China is by-far the largest consumer of tea as a country, at 1.6 billion pounds a year, the scenario is a lot different when it comes to per person consumption of the beverage. Turkey tops the list with a consumption rate of nearly 7 pounds per person per year followed by Ireland and the UK.
Packing tea in paper goes back to the medieval 8th century China when paper was folded and sewn into square bags to preserve tea flavouring and aromas. Then the paper tea bags were stitched from all sides to create protective casings for the tea leaves.
In 1901, two women named Roberta C. Lawson and Mary Molaren of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, filed a patent (which was also granted later) for a “Tea-Leaf Holder” that is similar to the modern tea bag. However, they were unsuccessful in bringing this into the market.
The first modern tea bags in the west were made during 1903 – 1904 and these were commercially available by 1908.
Tea plants require at least 127 cm (50 in) of rainfall a year and prefer acidic soils. Many high-quality tea plants are cultivated at elevations of up to 1,500 m (4,900 ft) above sea level. Though at these heights the plants grow more slowly, they acquire a better flavour. A tea plant will grow into a tree of up to 16 m (52 ft) if left undisturbed, but cultivated plants are generally cut to waist height as short plants bear more new shoots which provide new and tender leaves.
Depending on the production methods used, different black tea types are obtained. The process of oxidation is responsible for the bright colour and strong aroma of black tea. During this process, the phytochemical in the tea leaves, known as polyphenols, are oxidized and this process darkens the green colour of tea leaves.
White tea is the least processed of all teas. The leaves are simply left to wither and dry on their own, which gives them a very delicate, naturally sweet flavour. It has very little caffeine and doesn’t go through rolling or oxidation.
As the tea tradition expanded from the Victorian elite class to the working class during the industrial revolution, the high tea was developed as most factory workers were away from their homes and needed a break from work in the evening. High tea was a combination of afternoon tea and the evening meal.
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