See how to choose and prepare the tea, find out why not every infusion is tea and discover the green, white and black teas produced with Camélia sinensis
-Lets take a tea?
-Because? You are sick?
The hypothetical dialogue is used by Carla Saueressig to illustrate how much this drink is still disliked by Brazilians, despite the pleasure and physiological benefits it provides. “Unlike coffee, tea is always associated with displeasure. When talking about tea, the person immediately thinks of boldo, gorse or any other bitter infusion ”, explains she, who is considered the greatest tea specialist in Brazil.
The greatest specialist in infusions in Brazil, Carla travels through Brazil giving courses and lectures, with the aim of demystifying prejudices against tea and teaching the best ways to choose and prepare infusions.
She clarifies, for example, that not every infusion can be considered tea. “You can make an infusion of herbs, fruits, petals, but even tea, only if it is prepared with Camélias sinensis , a plant originally from China, whose first records of its use date back to 2,700 BC”, he reveals. Currently, about 230 types of teas are known.
All of them are produced from Camélia sinensis . The difference is in the amount of fermentation: green tea, without fermentation; white, from 2% to 4% fermentation, oolong (a middle ground between green and black), from 20% to 40%; black, full fermentation.
Legend has it that tea was “discovered” when Chinese people dropped a camellia flower in a pot of hot water. When drinking, they found that it helped fight fatigue. It was only during the time of Confucius (around 650 BC) that tea began to be taken for pleasure.
Contrary to what one might think, tea did not reach Europe through the hands of the English, but through the hands of the Portuguese – it was the Lusitanians who had colonies in the region where China is today. The English did not know the drink, they used to drink coffee. However, around 1600, there was a great plague that ended the coffee crops. The British remembered the Indian custom of drinking tea and started consuming it too, adding milk – but not this “skimmed” milk so common today, but a kind of cream.
The traditional Afternoon Tea in the land of the queen came up with the custom of the women of the court, who always met at 5 pm to have a snack, make small talk and … have a drink.
As in the case of wines and coffees, the quality of the tea depends on its terroir (the place where it was grown, the characteristics of the soil and the climate) and the oxidation process. It is in this respect that the ancient wisdom of Chinese and Japanese, producers of the best teas in the world, makes a difference. In addition to the origin, what influences the quality of the tea is its freshness. The fresher (more recently harvested), the better.
Because it has polyphenols, tea increases metabolism, reduces free radicals, slows aging, improves the immune system, prevents cancer.
The temperature of the water to make the infusion varies, according to the type of tea, from 60 to 90 degrees centigrade.
The quantity too. Normally, according to Carla, the proportion of grass per liter of water and infusion time is described on the product packaging.
She recommends using organic paper filters, which have more yellowish tones. White paper (such as coffee strainers) contains chlorine, a substance used in the sterilization process and which leaves it white.
Where to serve – Whatever, as long as it is not metal: it can be ceramic, porcelain, glass …
Service temperature – The person needs to be able to “hold” the cup without burning.
Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world – second only to water. But if we exclude China and India from this account, it is behind coffee consumption. In Brazil, coffee consumption is 20 times higher than that of tea.
There are some types of tea that, when given hot water, make small flowers bloom inside the container. Despite being a beautiful spectacle, according to Carla Saueressig, the drink has no exceptional properties or flavors. “It’s just pyrotechnics”, he sums it up.
There are also very special – and expensive teas. The most appreciated is the gyokyro, which means “taste of precious dew”. Each 12 grams (enough to prepare a liter) of it costs about R $ 60.
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