Tea has been cultivated in China since AD 500. Today, there are over two-hundred varieties made from green or black tea. Green tea is unfermented. Tender green leaves are picked from the top of the bush and dried. Black tea, allowed to dry on the bush, is gathered, dried, and fermented. The flavor is strong and full. The Chinese refer to it as red-tea because it looks red after it is brewed. Oolong tea is only partly dried and fermented, producing a rich pungent, tea and served after dinner. Only the Cantonese serve tea during meals. Scented teas are balanced with flowers. They are served between meals and at special occasions. The most popular flowers are jasmine, rose petal, and Chinese chrysanthemum. The tea-plant itself is a species of the camellia family.
Freshly brewed tea is clear and has a fragrant bouquet. Bew tea, in porcelain or glass, as metal containers change the flavor. Alway boil the water, then pour it over the tea leaves and allow it to steep up to five minutes in a covered teapot. For each cup of water, add a half teaspoon of tea leaves. A second infusion can be brewed from Chinese tease (the Chinese believe the second infusion is the best). The benefits of tea drinking are perhaps best said in this traditional Chinese tea drinking song:Tea in the morning stimulates thinking, revives one’s spirit. Tea after meals clears the throat, helps digestion. Tea during the day quenches thirst, does away with frustration. Tea after work soothese the muscles, melts away fatigue.