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It’s tea time!

When hot bubbling water covers the dried herbs and spices to release the flavouring and colouring agents and the comforting scent fills the room, then it’s tea time! Tea has a millennia old tradition – it brings enjoyment, energy and health and its story begins in China.

The leaves that fell from the bush

What is the origin of tea and who actually came up with the idea of pouring hot water over dried leaves? This hot drink is linked to numerous myths and legends. In China, it is said that a Chinese emperor took some boiled water under a bush to drink. By chance, a few leaves fell into the cup and coloured the water. The flavour and fragrance entranced him and from that day on, he did not want to drink anything else. In India it is said that a fakir wanted to go without sleep for seven years. When he collapsed from fatigue under a bush, he gathered some small branches, hoping to stay awake by chewing them – the tiredness vanished and the story goes that he managed to stay awake for seven years. In Japanese, the words for tea and eyelid are the same. Why? There it is said that the penitent Bodhidharma wanted to meditate without sleeping for seven years. When he fell asleep anyway, he cut his eyelids off the next morning. They grew roots where they fell on the ground and a bush grew. He prepared a potion from the leaves and everyone who heard about the invigorating effect, wanted to see the "divine gift".

Tea culture around the globe

There are many different tea cultures. In Japan, drinking tea can be done ceremoniously. The tea is used as a powder. It is mixed in a bowl with a bamboo whisk and beaten until slightly frothy. The green drink is finally passed to the guest of honour and then gets passed one by one to the others present. In Germany, the place where tea traditions are strongest is probably in East Friesland. Again, the tea is not just simply drunk, but is celebrated properly. A special sugar cube called Kluntje-candy goes into the cup first. Then the hot tea is poured in, which makes the candy crack and crackle softly. By the side of the cup there is a cup of cream which is spooned on top of the tea, it is not stirred! Then of course there's the 5 o'clock tea in England, which already has a 200 year old tradition. Here the MIF (milk in first) principle is important: First, milk (at room temperature) goes into the cup and then the tea is poured. Traditionally the tea is brewed strong and is served with scones and sandwiches. In Russia, a large kettle with a tap called a samovar is used for tea preparation. Initially, there is very little water and a lot of black tea leaves, more hot water is then added before the tea is drunk. To sweeten the tea, people put something sweet in their mouths like sugar or jam and then have a sip of tea. The idea is that they will mix together in the mouth to make an aromatic compound.

From green to black

Green tea is probably the healthiest hot drink there is. It’s said to be good for your heart, decrease the risk of caries, and even have a positive effect on some types of cancer. The green colour and the healthy substances in green tea are preserved by the gentle processing. People at home should continue this gentle treatment by brewing green tea using water at only around 75 °C. Many people consider that the best flavours are the result of brewing the tea leaves a second time.

  • Black tea is fermented. The leaves are rolled, so that the cell walls are destroyed. As they react with oxygen the colour changes from a red-brown to black. Even black tea has many different varieties; the most popular ones are Darjeeling, Assam and Ceylon.
  • White tea is a very special type of tea. To make it, only slightly fermented unopened leaf buds are used. The mild taste and bright colour of the tea comes from careful preparation without steaming or roasting. This tea should be brewed with water at 70 to 80 ° C and the leaves can be used several times.
  • Fruit and herbal teas. “Tea” is actually the wrong word to use here, because no leaves from the tea plant are used, but rather the fruit or leaves of different plants, such as peppermint, sage and camomile.
  • Rooibos or red bush tea is also not a classic tea. It comes from the leaves of a shrub called Aspalathus linearis originating in South Africa. The shrub has needle-like leaves and looks rather like rosemary. It contains no caffeine and has less tannin which makes it friendly on the intestines. In addition, it contains a lot of vitamins, minerals and trace elements.

Source: Schlossallee Osnabrück