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Articles - Gourmet Pleasures:

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Tea – perfect for cold season

A cup of tea is just the thing when it is cold outside. Black tea, green tea and East Frisian blends… there are so many varieties to choose from. Herbal and fruit teas are not, strictly speaking, teas at all, as they do not grow on tea shrubs or trees.

The processing method determines the
type of tea

The tea shrub or tree (Camellia sinensis) is an evergreen that grows at high altitude in tropical and subtropical climates. The processing of the leaves after they have been harvested determines whether they become black, green, white or oolong tea. Most often, the leaves are turned into black tea by fully fermenting the leaves in a natural process. The process is interrupted after a certain amount of time to make oolong tea, whereas the leaves remain unfermented to make green or white tea. The leaves can then be infused with aromas to create an even greater variety of teas. Black tea fragranced with bergamot oil, for example, is sold as Earl Grey tea.

The leaves’ origins determine their designation

A lot of varieties of tea are named for the country of their origin. Darjeeling, for example, is a Himalayan region in Northern India. The colour of this tea is light and the flavour ranges from the mild to the flowery. Tea from this region is one of the most expensive and most highly prized varieties on the market. Assam is located in northeast India, and its tea is strong, spicy and dark. “Ceylon tea” refers to an aromatic and slightly bitter tea cultivated in various regions in Sri Lanka. Many teas are blends of several varieties of tea leaf. This is done to even out differences in quality and differences between harvests. To name one example, the East Frisian blend is made from Assam, Ceylon and Indonesian tea.

Herbal and fruit teas are not “real” teas

Herbal and fruit teas, on the other hand, are so-called “tea-like products”. Peppermint, chamomile and fennel are particularly popular in Germany. Other examples include rooibos tea from South Africa, mate tea from the leaves of the mate shrub and lapacho tea from the bark of the lapacho tree in South America. With the exception of mate tea, these drinks do not supply the energising effect of caffeine.


Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de