Tea Plantations - THE TEA PLANT
Tea or Chai is the most widely drunk beverage in the
whole world. The tea plant, Camellia Sansis, is a cultivated variety
of a tree that has its origins in an area between India and China.
There are three main varieties of the tea plant - China, Assam,
and Cambodia - and a number of hybrids between the varieties. The
China variety grows as high as nine feet (2.75 metres). It is a
hardy plant able to withstand cold winters and has an economic life
of at least 100 years.
The Assam variety, a single-stem tree ranging from
20 to 60 feet (6 to 18 metres) in height. Regular pruning keeps
its height to a more manageable 4 to 5 feet tall. It has an economic
life of 40 years with regular pruning and plucking. When grown at
an altitude near that of Darjeeling (Assam) or Munnar (Kerala),
it produces teas with fascinating flavours , sought after around
The Cambodia variety, a single-stem tree growing to
about 16 feet (five metres) in height, is not cultivated but has
been naturally crossed with other varieties.
The tea bag, the most popular form of tea in U.S., is a product
of mass production and mass marketing. These handy sacks, no matter
what shape or how fancy packaged, invariably hold inferior tea composed
of leaf fannings and dust. Fannings are tiny leaf particles that
break off when tea leaves are processed.
The tiny specks that remain when fannings are removed
are called dust. The latter is used in the tea bags you find at
your super-market. These invariably produce a dark cup of weak and
bland-tasting tea. The fancy packaged tea bags you'll find in most
restaurants, are genuinely better for they contain fannings and
CTC. Yet these are a far cry from the abundance of flavor and intoxicating
aroma found in a cup of fine full-leaf tea. When one brews a cup
of tea and tastes the difference, then tea bags are bound to be
consigned to the trash bin !
Instant tea is produced from black tea by extracting the brew from
processed leaves, tea wastes, or undried fermented leaves, The extract
is concentrated under low pressure, and dried to a powder by either
· freeze-drying, · spray-drying · vacuum-drying
A low temperatures is used to minimize loss of flavour and aroma.
Instant green teas are produced by similar methods,
but hot water is used to extract liquor from powdered leaves. All
instant teas are stored in airtight containers or bottles, because
they absorb moisture.