Being British I take tea very seriously and by tea I obviously mean black tea (not green or herbal infusions. I drink those too, but when we say tea we mean TEA).
For me there are only two ways to make tea
1. Tea bag + boiling water in first. Brew. Add milk – when in a hurry
2. Milk in first + ready brewed tea from a tea pot – for lazy Sunday mornings or when one cup is just not enough
Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to a tea tasting event by PG Tips to learn more about tea from the Tea Expert, Jane Pettigrew.
Being British and taking tea seriously (as I may have mentioned before!) I believed I knew quite a lot about tea. I was fascinated to find there was more to know.
In no particular order here are 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Tea
1. Tea arrived into the UK in the 1650s and it was the preserve of the wealthy who drank black tea and green tea in equal measure
2. By the 18th Century it was common for servants to be paid part of their wages in tea, who knew!
3. In the 1930s the tea bag was invented in the US, which made drinking tea more convenient
4. Blends of different teas were created specifically designed for milk to be added. These blends vary by country as we have different tastes (eg Brits prefer a stronger cup than our US counterparts)
5. Arthur Brooke started PG Tips in 1845. The PG stands for Pre Gest, as tea was believed to help with digestion and was drank before food, or ‘pre gest’. Research has since proven this true as tea stimulates the production of bile.
6. Fruit or herbal ‘teas’ are more correctly called infusions or tissanes
7. Black, green and white tea are taken from exactly the same part of the plant (the bud and two leaves) it is only there preparation after picking which makes the different drinks. In black tea the leaves and buds chopped after picking so that they oxidise and blacken. Green tea is left whole and treated with heat as soon as it is picked to prevent oxidisation and retain some green colour. White tea isn’t chopped, but is left for 3-4 days for some natural oxidation to occur.
8. Black tea should be made with water that is just before boiling point (as once boiling oxygen is lost) and should be brewed for 2+ minutes to taste and green tea with water than is around 80C and brewed for 2 mins max. This can be reduced slightly for tea in tea bags as they have smaller particles designed to brew more quickly.
9. Tea contains polyphenols, which act as an antioxidant in our bodies. For health we are best to drink a mix of green and black tea as they have different health properties. These include improved circulation, improved digestion and improved memory.
10. Despite popular believe green tea is not lower in caffeine. If fact it can have more. However, the final drink may have less caffeine if brewed properly at a lower temperature (which it often isn’t) as less caffeine may be extracted.
So there you go. 10 facts you didn’t know about tea. Go and pop the kettle on!