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Tea History
  Origin of Tea test
 
was discovered by the great Chinese emperor Shen Nung however this is the most widely accepted story ghjregarding the discovery of tea. It is said that the emperor was well aware of the virtues of boiling water before drinking and one day while doing so, he saw it turn a little brighter and take on a unique flavour when a few leaves from the branches of a nearby tree fell into the Pot. The "Divine Healer" as it was called, Shen Nung, at once realized the exhilarating and therapeutic values of the magic leaves this was how tea was discovered.
 
Another story tells us about the famous Japanese legend, which ascribes the origin of tea to a Indian hermit called Bodhidharma. He was the 28th Buddhist Patiarch and he was the founder of the Zen sect Buddhism. He was believed to be a great traveler, the emperor of china had allotted the saint a cave for unperturbed meditation for nine years. The avowed ascetic fell asleep during meditation and on awakening was so enraged with himself that he tore of tired eyelids and threw them. It is said that a strange plant sprouted from the cast away eyelids which possessed the unique property to drive away sleep and sluggishness. This was a tea plant. It was said that those who drink "Thy Sap" shall find such refreshment that wariness may not over come them neither shall they know confusion, drowsiness and slumber.
 
A less fabulous version of the legend states that when Daruma felt drowsy during meditation he chewed the leaves of a nearby plant and felt invigorated. This legend however dated 542 AD much later than the actual use of tea as a beverage in china began.
 
According to another legend. It gives a totally different story "There lived a hearbalist, who possessed the wealth and knowledge of some 84000 Herbs, before his last days, he could acquaint his progeny with only 62000 plants. The secrecy of the remaining herbs seems to have been buried with the deceased. But a miracle happened and a wonderful plant grew upon his grave which was found to possess in itself the virtues of all the lost 22000 plants. This was tea Plant and by curing the court minister's daughters illness became a plant with lasting fame.
 
One more Chinese legend tells us that Gan, Lu a Buddhist monk of china came to India in the first century for Buddhist studies and returned with seven tea plants which he planted on Meng Mountain in Szechwan.
 
All these legends make us believe that china is the original home for tea plant but there is still a controversy over this claim. Some scientists as well as historians are not in favour of giving credit to china. The dispute over the prototype from which the three species of tea i.e. Camellia Sinensis, Camellia Assamica and Camellia Cambodians evolved is still not settled. Wild tea bushes discovered in 19th century along the Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, and burma raised the question: are they wild or remains of tea plantations maintained by the native tribes.
 
Some botanist considers that the first harvest of the leaf of wild tea or 'Miang' could have been done in the above countries than in china. These tribes are still using tea leaves for chewing and for preparing a medicinal beverage form time immemorial. The custom of eating pickled tea leaves is still common in the tribes of South East Asia.
 
The Singapore and Khamti tribes of northeast India also have been drinking a tea brew for ages. The legends of Gan Lu and Bodhidharma a school of thought argues in favour of India as the original Home of Tea.
 
It's very surprising to know that some Sanskrit scholars in India are of the opinion that the Sanjeevani plant which finds expressions in Ramayana may well be Tea. Assamese medical Scripture Nidana written in Sanskrit in the 10thCenturyAD has a mention of a Brew called 'Shama Pani', the decoction of Shamapatra meaning the leaves, the word 'Cha' must have been derived from 'shama' which found its way to china they argue. According to nidana shamapani was used, as a medicine against cold, cough, headache, and Drowsiness.
 
Moreover the Japanese, and Chinese legends talk about a strong relation between India and the origin of tea these legend stories mention that tea plants were carried from India and planted in China may be this is true because since time immemorial India and China have witnessed a flourishing relation both commercial and religious. Tea can also be described as a medicinal herb if not as a fermented drink. It is said that Chinese tea was of a distinctive variety when compared to that of Assam and Cambodia hence its said that the primary origin circle or even the Mongolian Plateau.
 
Its generally believed that the fan shaped area between China, and North east India including Myanmar was the place from where tea originated and then gradually spreading to all parts of the world.
 
Development and spread of Tea from China
Tea and its refreshing properties soon became well known during the Chan Dynasty it was not very popular but its popularity was slowly growing. There was a time when tea replaced wine at the banquets. People preferred the refreshing properties of tea to the intoxicating effects of wine. Latter tea became extremely fashionable and Tang Dynasty was called the Golden Age of Tea.
 
Lo yu was a scholar who was very interested in the Tea since an early age his interest soon transformed him into an authority on tea and it was he who had written the first known book on tea "Cha Ching" this book contains every aspect related to tea right form the varieties to the preparation and the rituals.
  Spread of Tea
 
Tea had probably originated in china according to legends but had migrated to the remotest parts of the world. Let us know how the tea walked into cups all over the World.

Tea to Japan
It was in the beginning of the 9th Century that Japanese took home the fashion of tea it was a Buddhist monk who had taken few tea seeds and grown them in his monastery this was initially consumed only by minks to keep them awake during meditation. It was in 13th Century that the tea had grown popular outside the monastery with the growing popularity of tea in Japan, Japanese soon began their study on tea and evolved their own tea ceremonies, customs and varieties, taste, flavours.
 
Tea to Korea and Tibet
It was in AD 820 that people of Korea wanted to cultivate their own tea rather than import it from china so emissaries were sent all over the china to know the art of growing tea. The Koreans traditions are mainly taken from Chinese, Japanese.
 
Tibetians have a special oily tea called SuYu Cha which they make for very important guests. It was introduced by a Chinese Princess this tea is a mixture of pound leaves with yak butter, salt and cooked for 11hrs. Its having a distinct taste.
 
Tea Spread in Mongolia and Russia
Tea was presented to the Mongolian and Russians as gifts given during the Tang Dynasty latter these countries took on their own tea traditions.
 
Mongolians drink tea with milk and salt Russians drink strong tea. The consumption of tea in Russia is very high and this was the reason they started growing their own Tea.
 
Britain and American Tea Trade
In 1690 Boston became the first place to sell tea in America in 1770 Tea was smuggled in by Dutch as the British levied high import duties on all products. In American colonies although many duties were removed Tea continued to be taxed this time the British were facing financial problems in order to strengthen this the tea act was passed in 1773 to make English tea more marketable in America according to this act the Britishers paid the duties but could still sell tea at a much lower price then all its rivals became a symbol of tyranny to Americans that resulted in Boston Tea Party. In the night of 16th Dec 1773 the same year of tea act large number of Americans climbed the British Ships and threw all the tea overboard into the sea. This was repeated the following spring in New York 1774. In response to this mutiny the British imposed 4 Acts known as Intolerable acts one of these was to shift the trade at Boston in order to pay for the destroyed tea so the Americans built their first ship for trading with china they went to caxton and brought back with them tea, silk, chinaware, this mission was so successful that it initiated the trade between America and the other companies and was independent of the British East India Company this incident was a turning point in the history of America and in a way also shows how important Tea was.
 
Spread of Tea to all other Countries
Latter after the spread of tea to Russia and Mongolia Tea found its way to Malaysia and Thailand. This was because of western influence.
  Tea Cultivation
 
Methods of Cultivation
Tea plant as all plants is cultivated threw seeds. The plants are now days cultivated threw the technique of tissue culture or by other vegetative methods because undesired cross pollination can result in an undesired variety. Clonal technique is the most widely used method. We get plants with similar genome.

Sowing and Transplanting
The plants developed by seeds or tissue culture are deliberate they are first planted in tea nursing and when grown for a certain period in a protective environment are then transplanted at an equal distance in a tea Barrie (garden) the plant is left to grow for a period of 3 years before it can be picked (harvested).
 
Pests and Weeds, Diseases
There are no of diseases and pests to infect the tea plants these are a serious threat to the plantation because the use of weed sides, insecticides or any other chemicals can cause less in tea constituents as well as change in taste and flavours. Hence the infected parts or plants are to be removed and burnt.. This is the main reason for the development of tissue culture as disease resistant plants and pest resistant plants are being developed in mass scale by this process.
 
Pruning
It can be defined as more of an art than a science because the physiology of the tea bush is very imperfectly understood. It's a very controversial aspect of Tea cultivation. It can be simply defined as trimming the bush.
 
Picking of Tea Leaves
A tea plant has many different qualities of leaves on it but the ones which give the best tea is the bud and the first two leaves but this is not followed in many gardens and the bud along with the first four leaves is plucked.
 
The finest teas come for the leaves picked by young women because it's said that men have clumsy fingers and are impatient. Tea plucking job requires nerves of steel. The best teas are those picked in the early morning before 7 am and again at sunset this time is not preferred generally because the cold mist of the morning makes the drying process difficult. The seasons also effect the quality of tea spring produces the best teas and the quality falls as the months progress from spring to summer Traditionally tea is not picked during autumn and winter Nowadays tea is harvested all round the year.
 
  1. First Flush (most expensive) first after winter from March- to- April leaves are tender, light green
  2. Second Flush (most sought after) muscatel flavour has redish brown colour with fruity tast from May-to- June
  3. Rain Teas harvested in July although September taste is astringent, bright colour
  4. Autumnal plucked in from October- to-November these may all be picked from same bush but there is a wide difference in the quality of teas produced in every season
 
Monkey Picked Tea
Monkey picked tea is a wonderfully refreshing brew. Today, the term "Monkey-Picked" simply means the highest quality available. The tea brews an amber infusion with a fresh orchid fragrance and a smooth and full bodied caramel flavour.
 
Monkey picked tea leaves are famous and get their name from the fact that trained monkeys have to pick them. The name does not refer to a particular type of tea. In general, monkey picked teas are wild tea plants that grow in accessible places, such as high cliff faces and to harvest them people train special monkeys.
 
The most famous monkey picked tea's yang hisen yun wu. The history of yang Hisen Yun Wu tea reveals how monkeys came to be used to pick and collect wild teas. There was a poor tea maker called Yang Hisen to earn a living he used to pluck tea and prepare tea leaves for rich people. One day in the mountains he found an abandoned baby monkey. So he brought it home and looked after it. Some time later when he was hunting in the mountains, he noticed a tea plant growing high up on a cliff and shrouded in clouds and mist. He tried to climb up to pick the leaves of this tea, but it was too difficult and he gave up. On seeing this, the monkey climbed up and collected the leaves from the plant, initiating the poor tea maker's action. When the man returned home he made the tea and it tasted good. The tea was named after him and the cloud and mist (Yun Wu) where he saw the tea plant growing.
 
The monkey picked leaves produce a pale golden tea which is very delicious. It is best served without milk, sugar, biscuits or cake.
  Processing the Leaves
 
How the leaves are processed will determine their final classification as Black, Green and Oolong Teas. The main difference between the many Tea varieties is how much oxidant the leaves are allowed to absorb during processing.

What Happens in the Tea Factory?
It is an iron Rule that freshly picked tea leaves must start being processed within 6 Hours of leaving the field. It has to undergo four processes in the processing plant, which are 1st Wilting, 2nd Rolling, 3rd Fermenting, 4th Drying.

 
The fresh leaves are first dried for between 8 to 24hrs at temperatures of between 25Degree Centigrade and 35 Degree Centigrade. This makes them wilt. They are then placed in a thin layer on large wire racks, while ventilators blow worm air over them. The leaves loose much of their natural moisture during this process. A "Tea Maker" decides when the leaves are ready, for they must not become too dry or they will break during rolling.
 
During the 2nd stage, the mechanical rolling of the leaves, the Cell walls of the leaves must be broken down without crushing the leaves themselves. The cellular fluid can then combine with oxygen and the fermentation process can begin. At the same time, fluid containing Tanin is squeezed out of the leaves. This stage of the process last between 30 to 60 min's.
 
The taste and Aroma of the Tea develops during the next stage of the process Fermentation. Here, the fluids squeezed out during Rolling begin to oxidize and ferment, and help bring about the change in colour and the development of the tea's characteristic aroma.
 
The tea is then dried, Heated or roasted to help preserve it. The drying stage is part of the fermentation. The tea is dried at a temperature of between 85 Degree Centigrade To 100 Degree Centigrade for 20min's. It is arranged in layers with a different temperature for each layer.
 
The "raw" tea is then sorted according to leaves size and offered at auction to the agents of the large tea - trading houses.
  Shortening the stages of Production
 
The traditional methods of producing tea have been mechanized and automated by using the CTC method. The name comes from the three different stages of the process: Crushing, Tearing and Curling. The leaves are rolled (curled) for only a short time, then they are sifted and chopped up. Only then are they fermented. The result is known as "Broken Tea." For the Tea producers, the CTC method is more economical because both small and large leaves can be used.
 
Tea Grades
Tea leaves are graded into different sized pieces of leaf, as the size relates to how long the tea will take to infuse. The smaller the piece, the quicker it will infuse. Tea dust refers to the smallest leaf particles, which are usually used in tea bags as they infuse the quickest. Tea fannings are the small, grany particles of the leaf that are sifted out of better grade teas. Teas still make a good Qty, flavoursome brew. The finest qty tea are made up of whole leaf or broken leaf tea, which consists of the larger pieces of tea leaves. Professional tea graders use the complex language to classify tea grades and differentiate between the different types and qty of tea.
 
Tea Tasting
Tasters are responsible for checking the qty of teas and describing them in preparation for commercial sales. They are expected to ensure that the qty is consistent and identify what tea companies should be buying from which producers. Appearance, Aroma, and colour are taken into consideration. An experience taster will be able to identify everything from the time the leaf was picked to the height of the tea bush.