What is Tea-What Makes Up Tea?
Steep in a Covered Teapot
What Tea Is and Why We Drink It
The plant from which standard teas are made, like black, oolong, green and white teas, is latin name Camellia sinensis. This plant is native to China, Burma, Cambodia, and Assam where it grows as the "tea tree".
"Tea" is the name of the beverage made by steeping the leaves of the tea plant in water. It is calculated that more people worldwide consume tea than any other beverage. All teas from the plant Camellia sinensis naturally contain volatile oils, tannin, several B-complex vitamins, and caffeine. The flavor of tea is produced by its rapidly evaporating volatile oils. The color and astringency of tea come from tannin.
Tea is consumed for primarily two reasons. Sipping teas are consumed for their pleasant flavor. Traditional tastes range from hearty and smoky to pale, light, almost sweet, and even sharp and bitter. Healing teas are consumed for the changes they produce in body chemistry. Sometimes one tea can be enjoyed for both reasons.
"Herbal tea" is the more common name for "herbal infusions", a beverage made from steeping parts of plants in water. These plant parts can include the roots, rhizomes, bulbs, bark, flowers, buds, stems, and leaves, depending on the plant. The parts are selected for their unique traits, like aroma, taste, and seasoning characteristics, as well as their ability to cause certain changes in body chemistry. Herbal teas are made from a wide variety of plants and do not have to contain tea leaves from the actual tea plant Camellia sinensis to be called an "herbal tea".
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