Our Emperor in my post ‘The History of Tea’, was pretty well spot on when declaring that tea, initially, was to be used for medicinal purposes.
Our tea comes from the plant, Camellia sinensis and with all plants the end product is dependent on the environment it grows in, soil, sunlight, rain, temperature and humidity. Most importantly with our tea, is the process of when it is picked and the different procedures of drying the leaf that will then produce different teas, with different aromas and depth of colours
It is actually an amazing plant, the leaves of which are packed with different compounds, the main one being, polyphenols, also amino acids, enzymes and methylxanthines. Mmm….. sounds healthy and yes tea is.
WHAT IS IN OUR CUP OF TEA
Well what are these compounds. Perhaps break it down into the words we do recognise more easily. Prophenols in tea is the tannins, prophenols give tea its astringency, some colour and flavour. Amino acids; one of which is the theanine, where caffeine stimulates to ward off drowsiness, theanine induces a relaxed alertness that reduces mental anxiety and creates a sense of well being. These two work hand in hand to embellish the affects of our beautiful brew. Theanine also improves the taste of tea by offsetting the bitterness. Enzymes; oxidation process and Methyxanthines; caffeine, minerals and vitamins.
Do you think too much caffeine in our cup of tea, well compared to coffee, coffee has double the amount of caffeine per cup to our delicious cup of tea.
THE DIFFERENT VARIETIES OF OUR TEA
White tea, Yellow tea, Green tea and Black tea.
Black tea is the most common, I believe and more so in the Western world. I enjoy my tea, strong and milky, especially in the morning. Milder teas, I prefer to drink without milk so as to enjoy the flavour, with perhaps a squeeze of lemon.
The flavour and colour of teas are based on the level of the oxidation the leaves receive. With black tea, the leaves are fully oxidised, the leaves are allowed to wither and then they are rubbed or crushed, so releasing the chemicals that start the oxidation process. They are then left in a controlled environment to turn completely brown.
The Teas, White, Yellow and Green:
All three , receive little or no oxidation, green tea is not oxidised, but is steamed, shortly after harvest and so the colour of the leaf is preserved. Yellow and white tea, receive very little oxidation, white is stated to be the purest of the teas and is picked from newly formed leaves of the Camellia sinensis.
All three of these teas have more prophenols than black tea, catechins is a natural phenol and an antioxidant and green tea has high levels of catechins.
Well I have only touched on what is in our cup of tea, I shall expand as my knowledge grows, but we have hopefully established a base where we enjoy and explore our love of our cup of tea.
I have found this wonderful website, where most of this information has come from. Piqued your interest, I hope so!
The Royal Society of Chemistry. Article; ‘The Chemistry in your Cuppa’.
To the Pleasure of Tea!
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