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Tea Bush - Camellia sinensis (L.) O.Kunze
Brief excursion to the tea history 

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The oldest reliable record on tea drinking dates back to the 3rd century AD, discovery of the plant and it‘s healthy benefits is naturally much older, legends talks about the third millenium BC. The oldest records on tea cultivation and preparation are from the Tang dynasty (7th-10th cent. AD), particularly from the legendary master Lu Ju. Back then, the tea was prepared from compressed leafs into various shapes, which were then grinded into powder that was boiled for a short while in the metal kettle. Later one was the tea powder poured with boiling water and whisked with the bamboo whisker. The habit of tea drinking in the present form, came in the Ming dynasty era (14th – 17th cent. AD). Tea leafs were poured with bowling water in large cups, which were used for drinking at the same time. The use of teapots spreads hand in hand with the spread of tea drinking in all classes of chinese society int the 15th century AD. The tea culture and drinking of tea were expanding fast, first to Japan ánd Mongolia, later through the trading routes to Arabic peninsula, in the 17th century in the tea introduced in Russia and Europe, where it becomes favoured beverage. Europeans, namely the Brits, introduce tea cultivation in it’s colonies, in India, where they, after first attempts with the chinese variety, finds the wildly grown local variety in Assam, and in Ceylon. Russians succesfully plants up the Kavkaz mountain area, chinese colonist brings the tea plants to Taiwan. Tea plantations are set up in Sumatra, Java, in Souht Africa and many other places. The tea becomes important trade commodity and worldwide cultural phenomenon.


Basic fact and cultivation
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The tea bushes are year-round green, very finny leafs on short stems. For cultivating, themost important varieties are the chinese and assam. Also many bred hybrid varieties are being used, for example the ceylon variety. The chinese tea-bush is smaller (up to 6m) then the assam tea-bush (up to 15m), the leafs are smaller and it is suitable for planting in higher altitudes with subtropical and mild climate (It can well sustain temperature slightly below freezing point).

Assam tea-bush is grown mainly in the tropics, from lowlands to mountain range (above 2000m). Althoug the mountain range lower the yields of the tea-bushes, quality of the harvested leafs is usually very high. All kinds of tea bushes has white blossom, resembling the cherry blossom. The tea leaveas are typically covered by silvery white hair on the backside, which are easy to observe. The unfolded bud (tips) is covered all over. High portion of tips is characteristic for quality tea grade. The tea-bush grows well in various kinds of soil conditions, it is not very sensitive to temperature fluctuation, it does require quite extensive rainfall during the whole year. In the tropics the bushes are often shaded in protection against the sharp sun glare. Tea cultivation is spread in India, China and Taiwan, in Japan, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Indonesia, Vietnam, in the Caucasus area and in some countries in Africa and South America. It is propagated with seeds or cuttings. Regular cutting increase the number of sprouts, thickens the bush and forms the desired shape 70-100cm tall. For easier harvesting, tea bushes are planted in regular long rows.


Harvesting the tea leafs

In the fourth year after outplanting takes place the first harvest, the top quality leaf offers the tea bush even later. The tea bush gives yield for around 30 years. Time of harvest is dependent on climate conditons and is very varied. Leafs are harvested several times a year, year round in the tropical climate with enough rainfall (up to 30crops). The quality of the yield varies much through the year, various areas offers it’s best quality teas in diferrent times of season. Tea leafs are mostly picked by hand – niped by fingertips or with scissors, in Japan are used special cutting harvestors and electric scissors. Right timing of harvest and

following strict sanitary standards is the essential condition for producing real quality leafs. The young fresh sprouts are picked in configuration of tips + 2-5 leafs. The highest content of the valued natural substance, on which depends the tea quality, is found in the youngest sprouts. Therefore for producing the highest quality grade sis used only the tips+2 leafs. This grade is marked as OP (Orange Pekoe), in case only the tip+1 leaf it is marked FOP (Flowery Orange Pekoe).


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