20.9.11

Coffee, Chocolate, Vanilla,
..........and?.........Tea !



Camellia thea

What else could there be to complete the world of great tastes and brews than Tea ? Empires have been made and lost on the sweat of workers and the hillsides in the tropics in cultivating tea, coffee, and chocolate. Tea is one of the oldest cultivated plants used for brewing, and is one of the simplest in terms of garden-to-market processing. It is, however, land-intensive, requiring large tracts of land and a LOT of hand labor to pick young tea leaves at just the right stage of maturity. The young leaves are dried, then packaged for sale and shipment. There are hundreds of varieties and dozens of ways to make tea as a drink, but they are all based on just one species of plant: Camellia thea.


Theanine

Tea is grown in low mountainous areas, preferably with a mild climate. The major growing areas for tea are China, India, central-east Africa and Sri Lanka, but other countries produce tea in respectable quantities. Tea still ranks as one of the most widely consumed of all beverages, and has a long pedigree behind it, perhaps longer than any other brewed beverage. Fortunately, it is one of the simplest of all brews to make; add boiling water to tea leaves, wait a few minutes, then drink up !  


Green Tea leaves, freshly picked

The plant itself is fairly easy to grow, but is fairly tropical in its growing needs. It will tolerate some cold weather and light frosts, but will not likely grow in temperate areas for long. It requires acid soil, consistent irrigation, and regular inputs of iron and fertilizer.  
       



the finished product
Black Tea


One of the most interesting of all points to ponder:  how did someone centuries ago come up with the idea of boiling the dried leaves in water to make a drinkable beverage? The same query could be made for nature-based pharmaceuticals, foods, and a wide range of other natural products. Where did the "original" knowledge come from, and who will preserve the myriad subtle recipes for that natural knowledge ? As we move our world into more things synthetic, we should remember that many things natural are still useful. I'm sure that we would prefer real brewed tea over artificial tea, real coffee over instant coffee, and anyone who's tried artificial chocolate will always prefer the real stuff. Some the old ways are still the best ways. 

             
 Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens

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