5 Things You Didn’t Know About Tea July 01 2015

After water, the world consumes more tea than any other drink. In fact, you may have one in your hand right now. Even if you know your Oolong from your Darjeeling, here are some surprising facts about tea that might make you look at your morning cup with a little more appreciation.

 

 

5. All tea comes from the same plant

All varieties of tea are sourced from clippings of a single tea plant - Camellia Sinensis.  How the leaves are processed determines the type of tea, and there are literally thousands of possible varieties! Climate, part of the plant used, oxidisation and how the leaves are handled all contribute to the taste and quality of the tea. Thousands of cultivars have been produced from this single plant, and it’s thanks to the human imagination that we have the astounding choice in tea today.

4. Tea contains more caffeine than coffee

Pound for pound, tea leaves contain more caffeine than coffee beans. However, by diluting tea leaves more and using less per cup, our intake per drink is less. Some varieties of tea have more caffeine than others (black has more than white, for example), and even though it is possible to buy decaffeinated tea, it’s actually impossible to remove all traces of caffeine from tea leaves. However, as we throw the tea leaves away, this shouldn’t be a concern for the decaf drinkers amongst you!

3. Tea can be classified as a health drink

This is particularly true of green tea and varieties taken without milk or sugar. Tea leaves have a surprising amount of health benefits that can combat everything from stress and anxiety to heart disease and stroke. Tea is especially high in compounds that destroy free radicals, those cells that can damage DNA and lead to cancer. Not only that, but tea has been shown to help fight Parkinson’s Disease, and studies suggest green tea may reduce onset of neurological diseases like Alzheimer's – so get the kettle on!

2. The cup of tea is old

Humans have been drinking tea for at least 3000 years. It’s impossible to pinpoint exactly when we first began brewing tea leaves, but we know for certain that it began in China before 1000BC, and possibly around 2700BC. Legend has it that Chinese Emperor Shen Nong discovered tea by accident when leaves accidentally fell into his pot of boiling water. For a long time it was drunk only medicinally and initially spread to Japan, not finding its way to Europe until the 1600s.

1. The most expensive cup of tea will cost you £180

Da Hong Pao is a variety of Oolong tea that is rarely found for sale and is only offered in China to respected dignitaries and honoured guests. Supposedly the tea cured the mother of a Ming Emperor, who preserved the tea bushes the drink had grown on. Three of these bushes still survive today, and contribute to the incredibly high price tag. In addition, the leaves can only be harvested at particular times of the year, and the Chinese believe it is an incredibly powerful medicine. However, the price may make your eyes water a little, a 1kg bag will set you back almost $1 million.