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ABOUT TEA: tea types | camellia sinensis | brewing guide | tea & health | caffeine | tea farms | storage | glossary


An ancient beverage, tea has been drunk for pleasure and health for thousands of years. Even before it is brewed, a tea leaf is steeped in legend, history, geography, and politics. Here you can learn all about this fascinating plant.

Tea Types
All tea comes from one plant, Camellia sinensis. The differences in types—whites, greens, oolongs, blacks and pu-erhs—is in the specific cultivar used, the local environment of the plant, and how the leaves are processed.
The Plant: Camellia Sinensis
Camellia sinensis is an evergreen shrub, which if left to grow wild, can reach heights of more than 30 feet. On farms, tea bushes are generally kept trimmed to a comfortable picking height of two to four feet.
Brewing Guide
Brewing good tea is simple. It has evolved some more complex traditions- in China, it has been taken to the level of an art form, and in Japan, it is an expression of Zen Buddhism- but good water is always crucial.

Tea and Health
Not only is tea soothing and delicious, but throughout its history, it has been associated with important health benefits. Modern studies prove these healing properties have a scientific basis.

Small Farms/Organic Farming
The alternative to small farms is chemically grown, mechanically harvested, uniform teas of low quality and taste. There's little adventure in a cup of bagged tea, blended for consistency- in which the rich cultural history of the Camellia sinensis plant is lost.
Caffeine is a compound revered by many and vilified by some. It is a natural substance that occurs in varying amounts in different plant varieties, stages of growth and parts of the plant. Because of its invigorating qualities, we want to quantify and manage its intake.

Why Drink Tea?
Tea tastes great. It is a simple beverage, just water and leaves, but it contains worlds. Like all things of beauty, it is both plain and complex. For us, a cup of tea is a daily ritual, and an elemental pleasure.
Tea Storage and Packaging
Tea must be stored correctly to maintain freshness. Excessive heat, strong odors, moisture, or light can indelibly alter the character of your tea.
History of Tea
The history of tea spans thousands of years, beginning 2737 B.C.E. That's when ancient Chinese records report that tea was discovered by China's mythical second emperor, Shen Nung.

Tea Legends
Legend states that where Bodhidharma's eyelids fell, the first tea plant grew. The quality of tea, which keeps one awake, is Bodhidharma's gift to the Buddhist world of meditators, establishing the drinking of tea as an aid to alert meditation and spiritual development.

From agony of the leaves  to yixing: find over 50 of the most popular tea terms and definitions here.