A week into the Tea Journals, I already feel super excited, a little overwhelmed (there is so much to learn) and really positive about my future as an enlightened tea drinker!
To help summarise my learnings, on a weekly basis I’m going to do a rundown of between 5 & 10 things I’ve learnt from all the sources I’ve been accessing and reading. I’ll try and keep them as consistent & coherent as possible, without flitting between subjects, teas, histories, rituals, plants etc… but think it’s important to help consolidate my learnings.
Ok so here goes!
1. There are 3 types of Camelia sinesis, 2 of which (“Camellia sinensis var. sinensis for Chinese teas, and Camellia sinensis var. assamica for Indian Assam teas”) are widely grown & cultivated to make some of the highest qualities of teas, then there’s the cambodiensis variety which isn’t exactly the best for drinking, but fun to grow in your garden – I might do this although I have a track record of plant murder!
2. It takes approximately 2000 tea leaves to make just 1Lb of the tea that you and I know & love. I’m starting to see just how big the scale of this whole tea thing is!
3. There are different methods of making tea, but the two most commonly used in mass production are the orthodox method and the unorthodox method. I’m going to do a full investigation into the many methods of tea making later down the line, but from what I can tell so far these methods depend on the parts of the leaves used. For example, orthodox methods rely on the tender leaves at the top of the tea plant, and the buds. There’s also different processes attached to each method, mixtures of old and new! But, like I said – more on that later – wayyyy too complex for a bullet point.
4. Milk & Sugar were introduced to tea wayyy back in the day by the brits with a bit of a sneaky motive! At least this is what the man behind the counter at Fortnum & Mason told me! In the 16th century when tea was becoming a thing in the U.K. (You wait till you hear the stories of Smugglers & War – actually crazy) the British encouraged drinkers to include milk & sugar to ‘ better the taste’ – this is not common practice across the world – however, as the British relied heavily on the cash brought in by sugar, milk & tea, by associating one with the other, the economy was driven forward. The more tea was used, the stronger it was, so as a result more milk & sugar were used and so on… all very crafty if you ask me!
5. And on that, yesterday for the first time in… well for the first time ever, I made myself a cup of Darjeeling (thank you Teapigs) to enjoy with no milk, and no sugar… (this is what the pack told me to do) and holy mole my eyes were opened! Probably one of the most refreshing cups of tea I’ve ever had! It tasted so wonderful – light, smooth and just like…tea! No clouds, no muddy water, just pure tea! So I think moving forward I’m going to make the concerted effort to try teas in the way they are supposed to be enjoyed.
So that’s it for now – there’s so much more, but who wants to trawl through text heavy blog posts?! Not me! Until next time!