Spo’s Guide to Tea

A Spo-fan recently asked me about to write about tea; this is Spo-lesson entry.

Spo’s Guide to Tea

One could not design a more beneficial drink -

It has enough caffeine to give a pleasant wakefulness but (usually) not enough to cause jitters or a ‘buzz’.

It is a bargain – a 100g bag of good quality leaves makes a lot of tea.


It is so good for you. It contains antioxidants and plant elements (called phytochemicals) that promote all sorts of good health features. It is being researched for its anti-cancer properties. Holistic doctors promote regular tea drinking for all sorts of preventatives.

And – it is delicious!

Talking about tea is like talking about wine. There are many parrelels; tea is grown in many places, and carries the ‘terrior’ of its origins. How it is harvested and how it is prepared makes tea vary as much as wine. Teas can be ‘estate’ teas coming from one plantation or a blend of various teas to make a particular taste/style. Tea (like wine) can become old and past its prime. Estate teas quality varies from year to year. You may only like white wine – and black tea.

Most people who state they don’t care for tea probably haven’t had ‘real tea’. The nasty bits found in tea bags are literally named ‘dust’ by the tea merchants. These teas are a far cry from brews made from leaves. It is like comparing instant coffee to good beans home-ground.

And then there is the matter of brewing. How long you brew and – most important – how hot the water is – makes or breaks tea.

For example, green tea is prepared with simmering hot water, never to the boiling point. Boiling water on green tea brings out astringency (the ‘bitter taste’). I seldom order green tea in a restaurant for this reason – they tend to use too hot water.

Tea falls into 4 rough categories-


“White”tea is made from leaves hardly processed , nearly ‘raw’. It probably has the most health benefits. It is called white as the brew ranges from pale white to a light brown.


Green” – partially fermented – its brew is pale yellow to green/brown. All the research on the health benefits of tea have come from green tea. China and Japan produce most green tea.


“Oolong” is a Chinese tea that is a transition between green and black. It contains some of the properties of both. I like Oolongs with desserts.


“Black” (what most people know as tea) is the most popular in the Western world. The leaves are ‘fired’ to a brown dried condition. Black teas usually have the most caffeine and are the strongest in taste. They are the red wines of the tea world.

Black tea is good for morning times, and for iced tea.

At any given time, I have several bags of tea leaves. My present stash -

A green/white tea blend

Japanese Sencha (a basic green tea),

A tin of English Breakfast (a blend of black tea from Ceylon)

Makiabari 1st flush Darjeeling (a black tea from India, an ‘estate’ tea. First flush means it is from the first harvest. The first tea leaves have a lighter taste than 2nd flush leaves).
So come over and see me some time. I’ll make us a pot.

From: http://sporeflections.wordpress.com/2009/03/16/

Spo’s Guide to Tea


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