Tea is statistically impressive and historically significant, but its real pleasure lies in consuming it. Good tea is like perfume and poetry in a cup. To make a cup of tea, you need a teaspoon. The teaspoon actually takes its name from the fact that it is the correct measure of the amount of tea leaves needed for making one cup of tea. If you use a tea bag, do not dunk it up and down, as this will make the tea bitter.
Tea should steep for 3–5 minutes (generally, the three minutes is for green tea, the five minutes for black). If you want your tea stronger, use more tea leaves; do not steep it longer, as it becomes bitter.
If you can find a good tea shop, it is worth exploring different kinds of tea, but if you are buying exotics, ask for guidance. Some Chinese teas need to be rinsed, but then can be used to make several pots of tea. Some white teas need to be brewed very quickly.
For the recipe below, Darjeeling would be the most appropriate tea, though any good black tea would work. Continue reading
Tea Bushes in Japan
Remember saying you wouldn’t trade something for all the tea in China? Well as it turns out, there is quite a lot of tea in China—more than a million metric tons in 2006, as a matter of fact. As impressive as that is, China now jockeys for first place with India, which sometimes pulls into the lead, but even when behind, is close to the same quantity of tea. So with the world consumption of tea just a little over 3 million metric tons per year, these two countries are clearly the biggest players—though they are by no means the only players. However, of all the countries producing tea today, China has the longest history.
Camellia sinensis, otherwise known as tea, actually originated in China. Legends place its first use somewhere around 2700 B.C.—but interestingly, the legends are so mundane that scholars think it likely they relate closely to the truth. The story goes that an early Chinese emperor instituted the practice of boiling drinking water to make it safe. Wherever he traveled in his realm, his servants would boil all the water that he and his entourage would need. At one point, in some small village, leaves blew into the boiling water, et voilà, tea was born. (An alternative version of the legend has this same health-conscious emperor intentionally adding different leaves to his boiling water, to see which ones might have medicinal properties.) Continue reading