I wish I could hear your first guess.
The most widely consumed drink in the world after water is tea.
By tea, we are referring to no other beverage than that which is prepared by pouring hot water over tea leaves.
Tea is consumed on every continent in the world. It is drunk hot, warm and even iced.
Whether you’re a tea drinker or not, here are a dozen facts about tea that you should know:
1. Tea is said to have originated in Southwest China as a medicinal drink and was introduced to Europe in the 17th century by the Portuguese.
2. There are 6 main categories under which all kinds of tea fall and the difference is in the processing. White, green, black and oolong tea are the most common.
3. White tea is made from tea leaves which are wilted, but not rolled or oxidized. As such, the flavour is mild compared to black tea. When brewed, it is pale yellow despite its name.
4. Green tea, the “fitfam” darling, is made from leaves that have not been wilted or oxidized at all. Green tea, which loses its flavour within a year, is said to have many health benefits including promoting longevity, and this has put it in the spotlight in recent years.
5. Black tea accounts for over 90% of all tea sold in the West. It is also the most popular here in Nigeria (think of your Lipton in the yellow box). Black tea is made from tea leaves that are wilted and fully oxidized. It is more oxidized than the other types of tea, resulting in a stronger flavour. Unlike green tea, black tea retains its flavour for years.
6. Oolong tea is made from wilted, bruised and partially oxidized tea leaves.
7. Tea leaves are the leaves of the shrub or small tree called Camellia sinensis, native to Asia.
8. Black tea is referred to as “red tea” in Chinese and languages of neighbouring countries. For the rest of the world, red tea refers to the South African herbal tea, rooibos.
9. The longer you steep your tea, the bitterer it becomes.
10. Tea is commonly packaged in tea bags but is also sold as loose tea in a can or packet, or compressed into cakes or “tea bricks” which can later be cut with a knife and steeped for drinking.
11. December 15th every year is International Tea Day. It has been celebrated since 2005.
12. Unilever (Lipton and PG) is the biggest producer of black tea in the world, followed by Associated British Foods (Twinings) and Tata Global Beverages (Tetley).
How do you like to enjoy your tea, and which kinds do you prefer? Do leave a comment.