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What is Tea-What Makes Up Tea?

Updated on July 7, 2013

Steep in a Covered Teapot

steeping tea in a covered teapot helps to more fully release the tea's potential flavor and effect
steeping tea in a covered teapot helps to more fully release the tea's potential flavor and effect

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".

Find herbal teas blended with quality organic and fair trade certified ingredients at etsy.com/shop/leesteas

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    • Lee Tea profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Tea 

      4 years ago from Erie, PA

      Ok, first the easy stuff. The readily available pain relieving bark is white willow bark, which contains salicylic acid, the inspiration for the lab-derived acetylsalicylic acid, aka aspirin. That I have on hand.

      Now, after a little research I've concluded that WOW is it HARD to find Brazillian Mint!! It's scientific name is Hyptis crenata and it's effective pain relieving properties have been confirmed by scientific study. It appears to be a traditional pain reliever in Brazil. That's awesome, but I can't find it anywhere! None of my typical organic suppliers, overseas wholesellers or even my more medicinal herb suppliers carry it. Not even the seeds. The U.S. National Library of Medicine has no information on it. Forum questions about where to buy it turn up no results. Verrrrry hush hush...makes me want to find it!! Let me crack some of my books, email my colleagues, and ask my friends overseas. I'll let you know what turns up! Thanks for the tip :)

    • JoyLevine profile image

      JoyLevine 

      4 years ago from 3rd Rock from the Sun

      Maybe I should ask you if you're so into tea... A few years ago, when I was working at the Science Center before I moved, I was reading a book on Medicinal Plants of the Amazon Rainforest and I found out there is Brazilian Mint Tea made with the bark of a special tree in the Amazon that has an aspirin like effect. I mean, I know aspirin itself is made from the bark of a tree, but supposedly this is a different tree, same effect and they crush the bark and mint together.

      Since I read about it, I have searched high and low for it, but to no avail. I get a lot of migraines and I try to stay away from popping so many pills. I would love if I could help the pain with something natural and not in pill form that bothers my stomach.

      If you ever hear of it, let me know! Thanks! :)

    • Lee Tea profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Tea 

      4 years ago from Erie, PA

      Aww thanks Joy! You'd be happy in my estore :) The link to my etsy store is on my profile - I'd be very happy if you took a look around. Tea's kind of my thing ;)

      That Earl Grey though...the most requested tea I don't carry. I should really take a hint...

      My peppermint is AMAZING! I spent 10 years (oh my gosh, it's been 10 years!! holy cow!! I'm so much older than I think I am lol) looking for the best peppermint and wow have I found it - the HIGHEST volatile oil content of any 100% organic natural peppermint I've ever found - it's quite a treat around our house around the holidays :) And as for the greens, I have a really hard time keeping my jasmine in stock, because I drink it all :( ... i mean ... :)

      Lemon and ginger sound great - think I'll try a blend of my lemon balm and ginger tomorrow evening. Marshmellow root is a staple here, as is horehound for coughs (they used to make the old school cough drops with it ... I still do!). Someone gave me some ground slippery elm for my teething children...I never used it on them, so I still have it. Should put it in something, or at least look into it...my youngest is getting her 6 yr old molars!

      Thanks for reading and your votes - much love! - Lee

    • JoyLevine profile image

      JoyLevine 

      4 years ago from 3rd Rock from the Sun

      I love all tea. Green tea, oolong, roobios chai, tropical green, black (earl gray yum).... Herbal teas are among my favorites. I had an entire two shelves devoted to all my herbal teas and when I moved (married my husband in Jan of this year) I had to downsize. Now I only have about, hmmm... 7 I think? lol

      I always keep peppermint tea for the stomach, it is so soothing. I always have green tea, lemon and ginger, roobios chai, sleepy time (chammomile and others), Earl Gray, Marshmallow Root, Slippery Elm Bark and Orange Spice.

      Marshmallow Root and Slippery Elm Bark are wonderful for sick children, by the way. Or anyone, actually... It breaks up coughs (mucous and phlegm) and soothes sore throats.

      I love all natural teas. I buy them in bulk all the time. Back home, I had blueberry and this amazing organic vanilla spice tea.

      Anyway, super hub! Voted up, useful, and interesting!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      6 years ago from USA

      Wonderful! I will keep following. Keep us all posted. Thanks.

    • Lee Tea profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Tea 

      6 years ago from Erie, PA

      Thanks for your post Marlene! I just read a great article on busting tea myths that would infuse this hub with some more worthy info - if it wasn't for your post drawing my attention back here, I might not have put 2 and 2 together! Keep visiting :)

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      6 years ago from USA

      This is a very informative hub about teas. Thank you.

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