9 Cool Facts About Tea
1. All true tea comes from varieties of the Camellia plant.
Calling any other brewed herb beverages "tea" is incorrect. Chamomile, hibiscus, and valerian root are not teas but herbal infusions. Likewise, any fruit-based "tea" is a "tisanes."
2. Tea is more popular than coffee around the globe.
If you're American, you likely associate a morning mug with coffee. But the humble tea leaf is the most popular beverage worldwide (other than water)! Iced tea is more popular than hot tea in the US, where cold drinks are preferred.
3. The origin of adding milk to black tea is a topic shrouded in mystery.
Some tea historians believe that adding milk to porcelain China before boiling water protected the pot from cracking. Others claim it was to cut the bitterness of low-quality tea leaves.
4. When to add milk is a debate topic that gets pretty heated.
There's a serious tea drinker debate about pouring milk in during steeping or after steeping is complete. We won't take sides!
5. Earl Grey's unique flavor comes from bergamot oil.
Bergamot is a citrus fruit with a bitter and slightly sour flavor. However, it's most famous for its role in Earl Grey tea. Earl Grey is popular today but was originally created to mask poor-tasting leaves. At that time, it was looked upon unfavorably.
6. English Breakfast tea is not grown in England.
Despite the name, the UK does not grow tea. The ever-popular English Breakfast tea is a blend of tea leaves from various tea-growing regions. The leaves are grown in Assam, Ceylon, and Kenya. Up until recently, all teas were imported into the British Isles. But, modern farmers are attempting to change this!
7. China and India are the leading tea producers worldwide.
Roughly 75% of tea grown annually comes from these two powerhouses. Kenya comes in at number three, producing approximately 300,000 tons, one-third the amount reported from India.
8. Tea bags were invented in America by accident!
An American tea merchant in the early 1900s was distributing his tea samples in small silk bags. Some recipients believed this was a convenient, disposable replacement for their usual metal strainers. The rest is history!
9. Bricks of tea were once currency.
Tea was and still is incredibly valuable. It is a medicine and a food product. In the past, tea was a form of payment! Pu-erh tea cakes were pressed and stamped. The fermented tea kept well and was an ideal choice for these transactions.