The History of Tea
One of the oldest legends recounting the origin and consumption of tea dates back to 2737 BC and hails from China, the birthplace of tea. Historically, tea finds its roots at the borders of Burma, Laos, Thailand. Vietnam, Tibet, Indian Assam and Chinese Yunnan, and spreads to China by way of the Yangtze River from Tibet all the way to Northern Shanghai on the eastern coast of the China Sea. The Chinese are accredited with developing both graduated terrace growing techniques on the mountainsides as well as the transformation process of the leaves after harvest.
This plant belongs to the Theaceae family as well as the famous Camellia family. Initially discovered in China, the botanist Linné named the sinensis variety.
The different colors of tea correspond to the oxidation level of the leaves : green tea being non-oxidized, White tea slightly oxidized, blue-green tea (called wulong) semi-oxidized, black tea (known as red tea in China) is totally oxidized, and dark tea (known as black tea in China like pu-er) is post-fermented.
The Rooibos (traditionally named red tea in France) is in fact not a tea at all, but a cousin of the broom plant and contains no theine. It is in the Cap region of South Africa.
Another plant closely associated to the family of tea is mate or yerba maté, which also has nothing in common with the Camellia family of tea. It is a cousin of the holly plant, coming from South America, principally grown in Argentina or Brazil. This plant, like tea, is rich in theine and has diuretic qualities.
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