Where Do Tea Leaves Come From? Learn How Tea Grows

Do you know what camellia sinensis is? You might have guessed, but it’s the species of evergreen shrub whose leaves and buds are used to produce the tea that we drink every day. You can distinguish the camellia sinensis bush through its small white flowers and bright yellow stamens in the center, which produce a hard green bud containing a single brown seed. Today, we’ll be learning about how these tea leaves are produced, where they come from, and how tea leaves are transformed into the loose-leaf or satchels that we instantly recognize at consumption. Let’s dive in.

Where Do Tea Leaves Come From?

The tea plant originally comes from East Asia, possibly originating from China or India, and much of the world’s tea still comes from those regions. Other countries that produce tea leaves include Kenya, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Vietnam, Japan, and Argentina. Origins date back many centuries to the Han dynasty in China, where it was possibly referenced in writing in 59 BC. If left alone, these tea bushes can grow up to a magnificent 30 feet tall, but they are pruned to small bushes so that they can continuously produce more leaves and be easily managed.

How are Tea Plants Harvested?

Today, most of the tea we drink is harvested on tea plantations or tea gardens. Tea bushes take about four years to mature and are then planted on sloping terrain to easily trap water and grow. After about five years, tea plants are finally ready to be harvested. Tea is a very labor-intensive product in which the tea plants are almost always handpicked with care.

How Tea Leaves are Processed

After the tea leaves are harvested, they undergo a drying process to remove all moisture. Then, depending on the type of tea, the dried tea leaves are rolled and fermented, which gives the tea its essential oils and distinctive aromas. The length of the fermentation also determines the type of tea that is produced: green, black, oolong, or others. Then, after being tested by tea tasters, they are blended into different varieties and packaged in bags or loose leaves.

How to Make a Perfect Brew

Now that you know how tea is harvested and processed, you might be wondering how to brew a perfect batch that will bring out the best characteristics of this wonderful beverage. First, make sure that you are sourcing high-quality tea. Good tea leaves should be smooth, light, and sturdy. They shouldn’t crumble in your hands. Another way to distinguish great tea is by taking in its aroma. One of the greatest parts of drinking tea is smelling its distinct aromas, and if you aren’t able to smell anything from it, that may indicate that the tea is old or stale.

Next, use the right temperature water to extract all of the character from your tea. Our water boilers come with different temperature settings to help you brew a wide range of teas. More delicate teas are best brewed at lower temperatures, while green tea is best brewed around 175°F. Herbal or oolong tea should be brewed at 195°F and at 208°. Be careful not to steep your tea for too long! This might make the tea overly bitter. Follow the recommendations that come with your tea.

Lastly, if you want to enjoy your hot tea for hours on end, store your tea in a Zojirushi stainless mug or tumbler to maintain its freshness and temperature.

Did you learn anything new about tea today? Let us know on social media by tagging your photos on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

 

 

What is Tea? Everything You Need to Know

Tea may only be thought of as an alternative to coffee in America, but it is a huge part of day-to-day life for the many parts of the rest of the world. In fact, tea is the second-most consumed beverage on the planet, surpassed only by water! The tea world is vast with a storied history that goes back centuries. Let’s dive into what tea actually is, where it comes from, and how to properly enjoy the many benefits of the beverage.

Definition of Tea

Tea is a fragrant beverage extracted from the leaves of the shrub Camellia sinensis and no other beverage can be called “tea” if they aren’t. However, different types of tea leaves are produced by the Camellia sinensis, such as black, green, white, dark, and oolong after it is processed. Another key defining factor of tea is that it carries caffeine. All other “teas” that you might be thinking of that are caffeine-free such as herbal, lemon, mint, or rooibos are actually tisane. In our visual guide to tea leaves, you can see many different types enjoyed in Japan, from green tea, houjicha, matcha, oolong, and more.

Camellia sinensis is an evergreen plant native to Asia and thrives in sub-tropical climates with high altitudes and loose soil. It’s found all over the wild and can grow in slopes, flat lands, and lower altitudes. Ancient tea farming methods include hand plucking tea leaves and buds and using bamboo trays to collect them before drying them out. It is said that tea was first discovered in China when the Chinese emperor Shen Nung happened to try an accidental infusion of leaves and boiling water that came from the Camellia sinesis.

Japanese Tea

Tea was first recorded in Japan in the 8th century after being first imported from China. While it was originally a drink for priests and monks only, tea drinking became more popularized in the 12th century after Japan started planting tea in Japan for widespread consumption. The Japanese tea ceremony was born shortly after that, around the 13th and 14th centuries, and in the 18th century, the famous Japanese green tea, sencha, was developed.

In our visual guide to tea leaves, you can see many different types enjoyed in Japan, from green tea, houjicha, matcha, oolong, and more. You will also notice that certain teas are best brewed at specific temperatures to extract the most flavor without becoming too bitter. This ranges from 160-208 °F, and steeping times will differ as well.

Tea in Japanese Culture      

Tea is a major part of Japanese culture, with tea rooms and tea ceremonies dating back to the 15th century. Tea ceremonies are still practiced today, using various utensils and tea wares to prepare and drink matcha in a traditional tearoom with a tatami floor. These ceremonies have varying degrees of formality and authenticity and are a time to provide guests hospitality in a peaceful space detached from everyday life.

Japanese tea gardens are also dedicated spaces for people to quietly reflect on the beauty of nature and the art of living in harmony and detach from the hustle and bustle of a busy world. These gardens are lined with stepping stones called roji, which gives the guest a sense of traveling deep into the mountains.

Tea at Zojirushi

At Zojirushi, tea is also a way of life that is reflected within our products. Our hot water boilers are equipped with four different temperature settings so that you can prepare your tea with precision to pull the perfect brew every time. All of our hot water boilers are designed to be easy to clean, easy to use, and always there for you when you need a cup of tea in hand.

Let us know if you have anything new about tea today by tagging Zojirushi on your photos with #zojirushi on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

Hosting the Perfect Tea Party at Home

Hosting a tea party at home is one of our favorite ways to entertain our guests. If you’re looking to gather a small group of family together for some afternoon tea, you’ll need to begin the planning a few weeks in advance to prepare some tasty finger foods and have an array of teas available for your guests to choose from on the day of the party.

The Basics

Before you start to work on the menu, make sure you have everything in order!  We provided a checklist so that you can have your bases covered:

  1. Pick a date that works for you and most of your guests.
  2. Send out an invitation so everyone knows when and where you’ll be having your party.
  3. Be sure to ask your guests if they have any allergies, so you can keep that in consideration when planning your menu.
  4. Confirm how many guests can make the event.
  5. Plan to have enough mugs, plates, cutlery, snacks and a wide selection of tea for the group.

Menu Planning

Tea parties differ from brunch or dinner parties, and generally require a lighter menu that features a selection of finger foods. Here are some of our favorite go-to recipes from around the world that can be easily made using your Zojirushi Breadmaker that you may want to consider for your upcoming event. Pro tip: make as many of these treats of these ahead of time as possible, so you can enjoy getting ready and just hosting your friends on the day-of.

  • Apple Danish: Originating in Denmark, this is one of many sweet pastries from around the world enjoyed by all. This flaky bread with sweet apple filling can be part of a relaxing breakfast, or a satisfying mid-afternoon snack.
  • An-Pan: An-pan is a Japanese sweet bun filled with red bean paste and is recognized as one of the most popular snack breads in Japan. It was first made by a former samurai during the Meiji period (around 143 years ago), when Japan was becoming more westernized. Make sure to pinch shut the bottom of the dough to prevent it from opening while baking!
  • Bacon Pain d’Epi with Coffee Spread: Pain d’Epi is a type of artisan bread in which baguette dough is baked in a shape of a wheat stalk. Our version features a slice of juicy bacon over a robust coffee spread inside.
  • Broccoli Salmon Crescent Pocket: This large, flaky crescent sandwich is filled with salmon and cheesy broccoli. It’s the perfect tasty party dish.
  • Luscious Blueberry Loaf: Our recipe for this luscious blueberry loaf uses fresh blueberries and finishes with a crumb topping for a lovely presentation. Add the blueberries when the kneading cycle completes to maintain its shape and color.

Tea Selection and Temperature

As important as it is to have a wide array of finger foods, it’s also great to have a variety of teas to offer your guests at your party. This allows them to select the taste and caffeine level they are comfortable with. Some different types of tea we love include: Matcha, Gyokuro, Oolong, Black Tea & Herbal.

Did you know that different teas are best brewed at different temperatures? If you don’t brew at the right temperature, the tea could become bitter or not be as fragrant and tasty as it should. Zojirushi water boilers have different temperature settings ideal for a variety of teas, so you can brew your tea to perfection.  Find the perfect temperatures for your favorite teas below:

Secret Weapon

The Zojirushi Micom Water Boiler & Warmer’s (CD-NAC40) capability to heat water to various perfect temperatures is one of the main reasons this machine is our secret weapon for all tea parties.

But, there are many other features that make the water boiler useful, on a daily basis. For example, its Quick Temp Mode. Zojirushi water boilers are all designed to boil the water first, before keeping it warm at the select temperature. This was designed for safety, as well as to reduce the chlorine in tap water. If using bottled or purified water, this step can be omitted by using the Quick Temp Mode, which skips the boiling process and heats to the select temperature, reducing time and energy.

Additionally, the boiler has a useful timer. The timer setting will shut off the heater for an extended period of time, and automatically turn it back on, so you’ll have hot water ready for you after 6-10 hours. This is useful to set up at night so hot water is at the ready in the morning without keeping the heater on all night, using up electricity. With features like this, every day can be a tea party with very little effort!

Learn more here:

 

Did you try any of these recipes or host your own tea party? Be sure to share your experience with us on social by tagging your photos on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan #ZoParty

 

 

Product Inspirations – Micom Water Boiler & Warmer (CD-WCC30/40)-October 2018

Ahhh… autumn! The perfect time of year for warm, enticing, soothing food and drinks, especially hot beverages. We love this time of year and use our Micom Water Boiler & Warmer (CD-WCC30/40) so much during these cooler days.

The CD-WCC30/40 is a particularly convenient appliance to have on hand in your home or office. It’s designed to quickly heat water and keep it at the selected temperature, so you have hot water ready whenever you want to brew tea, make instant coffee or even a more fragrant toddy or hot cider.

This water boiler is meant to be versatile and comes in your choice of 3 and 4 liter capacities. The unit features an easy-to-read LCD panel that lets you set the water temperature and delay timer, dispense water with the touch of a button, as well as keep track of the actual temperature of the water inside in real-time. The entire water boiler rests on a swivel base for convenient serving, with the wide window water level gauge clearly visible along the side of the machine.

This water boiler and warmer also comes with the optional Quick Temp mode, a great feature for those who prefer to use filtered water or who need to quickly heat water to 160°F, 175°F or 195°F without first bringing it to a boil.

Using the water boiler is easy. Fill the inner container with water, plug in the machine, and select the desired temperature setting on the LCD display panel using the Temp Set button. The water boiler comes with four selectable keep warm temperature settings to choose from—208°F, 195°F, 175°F, and 160°F.

Delicate teas are best brewed at 160°F, while 175°F is the ideal brewing temperature for green teas. Oolong tea is best brewed at 195°F, and at 208°, the hot water is great for brewing black teas and herbal teas. At 208°, water is also hot enough to make coffee, instant noodles or oatmeal and blanch vegetables.

It’s also safe and easy to dispense hot water from the machine. Our smooth-operating electric dispensing system lets you simply place your cup under the spout, press the UNLOCK button, then press the dispense button. Café Drip Dispensing allows water to come out of the spout 60% slower, making it suitable for brewing café drip coffee.

This water boiler also comes with multiple safety features including auto shut-off, which turns off the machine when there is no water in the inner container, an automatic dispense lock, a removable magnetic power cord which easily detaches from the machine when snagged to prevent the unit from toppling, and in-spout and in-lid spill protection. Along with the nonstick coated interior, all parts that come into contact with the warmed water are BPA-free.

So, what do you normally use your water boiler for? If you don’t have a favorite recipe, we hope you try some of ours, like traditional Hot Green Sencha Tea and a classic British Tea along with more unique recipes like Black Tea Panna Cotta and Oolong Tea Chicken Bites! Plus, if you’re feeling a bit under the weather, try out this Cold Buster Soothie!

We hope you love these recipes and definitely share ones that you create in your own kitchen with us!

Product Inspirations – Travel Mug (SM-YAE48)-January 2018

We’re excited to showcase our Travel Mug (SM-YAE48) as our first Product Inspiration of 2018!

This mug is a stylish and convenient way to take your favorite tea, coffee or other beverage with you whenever you’re commuting or on the go. We’ve designed it with travel-friendly features, like a generous 16-ounce capacity, a design that rests more securely in car cup holders and can fit beneath most single cup brewers, and superior vacuum insulation to keep drinks hot or cold for hours.

The exterior comes in four great colors—Lime Green, Cherry Red, Dark Cocoa and Stainless—while the interior features Zojirushi’s SlickSteel® electro-polished stainless steel, which uses an electrically charged polishing process to treat and finish the interior, without adding any nonstick coating. The result is a corrosion resistant surface that repels odors, foreign substances and stains. The wide mouth opening makes it easy to pour liquids into the mug and clean the inside, and the interior fill line markings help to prevent overfilling, which could cause leakage. Plus, all parts that come into contact with your beverage are BPA-free.

The Travel Mug also has an ingeniously crafted lid, with a safety lock that makes it leak-proof, a sipping area that comfortably fits the contours of your face, and an air vent design on the opening which allows for beverages to flow out smoothly. Best of all, the lid gaskets are removeable for easy cleaning!

Our customers love that the same trick that can be used with our insulated food jars can be used with this mug—pre-cool the interior with icy cold water before filling with a cold beverage, or pre-heat with boiling hot water before filling with a hot beverage and the temperature is kept even longer!

We’re so inspired by this travel mug and how our customers use it that we love to come up with great drinks for you. With cold winter weather upon us, we often like a warm drink, and our Cold Buster Smoothie is the best! And if you prefer something with a bit more kick to it, try out our Shake It and Take It Matcha. And of course, for those who love coffee drinks, try out our Oh So Soy Latte!

No matter what you drink, the Travel Mug (SM-YAE48) is ideal for enjoying your favorite drink when you’re on the go. And you know that the SM-YAE48 is our very own Jesse’s favorite! We hope you love it and our recipes as much as we do, and don’t forget to tell us how you use it!