|Tea and its Selection
Tea shrubs grow in India, Ceylon, China, and Japan (see Figure 19).
The buds and leaves of these shrubs are cut and dried and sold as
In buying tea the size of the dried leaves should be noted. The
smallest leaves are those which have grown nearest the tip of the
twig and hence are the youngest. These make the choicest tea. The
older and larger leaves make tea of less fine flavor. "Flowery
Pekoe" and "Orange Pekoe" are choice India teas. These brands
consist of the buds and youngest leaves.
Another point to consider in buying tea is its color. Tea leaves are
either black or green. The chief difference between black and green
tea is that black tea leaves are fermented after picking, while
green are not. Tea leaves contain flavoring and stimulating
materials and a substance called "tannin" (sometimes called tannic
acid) which interferes with digestion. The presence of tannin in
both black and green tea can be shown by the following:
By fermentation, tannin is changed into a less soluble form, so the
beverage made from black tea contains less tannin than that made
from green tea. Hence, black tea is preferable. It is, however,
slightly more stimulating than green tea. Good black tea is grayish
black in color, not dead black. "English Breakfast" is a black tea.
It consists of a mixture of several black teas. "Oolong" is black in
appearance, but has the flavor of green tea. This is because it is
only semi-fermented. Teas grown in various countries have different
Tea is sometimes adulterated by using the leaves of other plants or
by adding large leaves and stems. It is said the finest brands of
tea do not reach this country.
Making the Beverage
Because tea contains tannic acid, an earthen, enamel, china, or
silver teapot should be used; a tin teapot should never be used. The
ingredient in tea that gives it its odor and flavor is a volatile
substance. Hence tea leaves should be kept in closely covered jars
Boiling water draws out substances which give the beverage its
flavor and stimulating properties, while water below the boiling
point only partially draws out these substances. If, however, the
leaves are boiled or are allowed to remain in water for more than
five minutes, much tannin is drawn out in the water. Therefore,
never boil tea, but pour boiling water over it and in five minutes
strain out the tea leaves.
TEA (proportion for one cupful)
1/4 to 1 teaspoonful black tea leaves
1 cupful freshly boiled water
Heat the teapot by pouring boiling water into it. Pour out the water
and add the tea leaves. Pour over them the freshly boiled water.
Place the teapot in a warm place to steep, and in 5 minutes strain
out the tea leaves.
Teapots provided with perforated cups or with tea-balls (see Figure
20) for holding the tea leaves are most convenient, as the cup
containing the leaves may easily be removed or the tea-ball can be
drawn above the surface of the liquid after steeping the tea for 5
minutes. Or two teapots may be used, the beverage being strained
from one teapot into the other.
The quantity of tea to be used varies with the strength of tea
desired. If the leaves are closely rolled, less tea is required than
if they are loosely folded.
Tea may be served with cream and sugar, or with lemon and sugar. The
latter is called Russian Tea, and is often served with a preserved
In warm weather "Iced Tea" may be served. "Left over" tea may be
utilized in this way, or hot tea may be cooled quickly by adding ice
to it. While the latter method requires more ice, the tea is
considered of a finer flavor. Iced Tea is served usually with sugar
and lemon. Since sugar does not dissolve as readily in cold
solutions as in hot a syrup may be prepared for sweetening Iced Tea.
Even though tea is carefully selected and prepared it contains some
tannin. This, as has been mentioned, is injurious. The stimulating
material in tea also distresses some persons. Children, nervous
persons, and those who suffer from constipation are advised not to