Coffee & Tea
The use of Tea (Camellia or Thea sinensis, fam. Theareae) as a beverage
has been known to the Chinese and Japanese since prehistoric times and the
southwestern parts of China and northern Indochina are believed to be the
places of origin of the tea plant. Tea had a strange and long journey across
Asia. In Java, Ceylon, and Formosa, which today have a great interest in
its production, tea was introduced only in the mid-nineteenth century. The
Dutch made it known throughout Europe during the seventeenth century, and
a hundred years later it was brought to the United States. The traces of
tea sold commercially are numerous, and, depending on the place of origin,
are called Chinese, Japanese, Ceylon tea etc., while their qualities are
indicated by indigenous, oriental names such as pekoe, oolong, suchong,
and congou. Asians drink mostly "green" tea, obtained by firing
immediately after harvesting, without previous fermentation. In Europe and
in Anglo-Saxon countries in general, "black" tea is more popular.
It comes from partly dried leaves which are allowed to ferment before being
toasted. In Russia a particular type of tea is drunk, made of the remains
and fragments compressed into tablets. Theine, which is identical to caffein,
provides the stimulant properties of tea. Tannin gives it the flavor and
aroma. With regard to world consumption, England and Russia Occupy first
place, importing almost half of all the tea exported from India and China.
The Dutch and Americans are also great tea drinkers.