Grow your own camellia sinensis tea plant?
You may have heard that we are starting to plant tea here in the UK? It's true, tea has been planted in Cornwall for several years and is now being planted elsewhere in England, Scotland and Wales although on a relatively small scale and will always be speciality rather than commercially produced tea for tea bags. I am busy propagating a few plants of my own and we hope to supply plants next year to aspiring back garden tea planters. Tea plants are part the camellia family and are hardy little plants that grow in the Himalayas. As well as advising a group of Scottish tea growers, I have also been working in America to develop new teas. Teas that I created for The Great Mississippi Tea Company Ltd. Were entered into the TOTUS (Tea of the United States) awards last year and were awarded a first for green, black and oolong in the non-commercial category.
What's all the fuss about loose leaf teas?
A lot of work goes into tea production whether the tea ends up in a bag or not. Tea bags contain either dust or very finely broken or chopped leaves and are designed for a quick dunk in a mug. Loose leaf teas take a few minutes for the leaves to uncurl and release all of their flavour but when they do...oh boy are you in for a treat so FREE THE LEAVES! Good whole leaf teas can also be brewed more than once...just as long as you remove the leaves from the water at the end of the brew and don't let them stew. Essentially it's like orange squash as opposed to fresh orange juice or instant coffee as opposed to freshly ground beans. Does anyone remember smash instant mashed potato...say no more!
What's in a leaf?
All teas are made from different varieties of the same plant ~ the most common being camellia var. sinensis or camellia var. assamica, whether they are black, white green or oolong it's just a different process that produces the different types of tea. Research suggests that drinking as few as three cups of tea a day can have a beneficial effect on your health. Green tea is known for its antioxidant properties, however black tea actually has the same amount!