Traditional Tea is made by infusing the leaves of Camellia Sinensis in boiling water. Although tea had been drunk in China for thousands of years, it only found it’s way to Europe in the sixteenth century, thanks to the Portuguese. Although tea drinking spread across Europe during the seventeenth century, only the rich could afford it. China dominated supply and kept prices high.
India enters the fray
Tea was introduced to India by the British, plants were initially acquired from China and after some set backs, plantations were successfully established. The result was dramatic. Having broken Chinese control, prices fell and tea consumption, particularly in the UK grew. Tea became the national drink for all classes. During this period we transitioned from the more natural green to black tea, the result of oxidisation (sometimes incorrectly referred to as fermentation). Black Tea has a longer shelf life so more suitable to withstand long sea journeys.
English Tea (from Cornwall not Yorkshire)
We are all familiar with the very good tea made by Taylors of Harrogate, despite the name though, Yorkshire Tea, is blended in England from tea grown abroad, mainly in India. English Tea however comes from Cornwall, from plants grown in the county. Camellias have been grown at Tregothnan for over two hundred years. The area enjoys a micro climate comparable to tea growing areas in Asia. In 2005 the estate entered the tea market with their classic blend. Since then other varieties have joined it. Their teas can now be found in Waitrose and other premium establishments.
Did you know
- Only the top leaves are picked for making tea, these regrow every 2-3 weeks
- Tea is also grown in parts of Australia, New Zealand, the USA and surprisingly Scotland
- Rooibos (or red bush tea) from South Africa are derived from Aspalathus Linearis, it is naturally caffeine free