Know your Tea:
Tea in its natural state is a perennial tree not a bush. It may grow over 20 feet if allowed. The commercial scale plantations maintain it as a bush due to the convenience for harvesting. However it has adverse effects on the overall health of the tree as well as to the produce, the bushes thus maintained need to be pruned every 3 years to revive it for continued leaf growth.Wild trees are prevalent in china, however not so popular in any other part of the globe. Some excellent tea made from these aged trees are mostly consumed within china itself.
On a tea plant the optimal distribution of the healthy flavonoids and antioxidants are found in the bud and up to the second leaf. This budset (2 Leaf Bud) pluck is called the Imperial plucking and most commodity tea production cannot afford to this quality of harvest so they generally resort to more coarse pluck upto 4th leaf sometimes. The more coarser the leaves it ends up shredded or broken during the processing and results in the fannings / dust grade teas along with other higher leafy grades in a batch of machine made teas.Tea bag is an invention of some brilliant marketing brains to market an otherwise discarded byproduct.
Low grade teas are more suitable for adding milk and sugar due to its inherent bitterness in the brew which is perfectly balanced by milk. Good quality teas are not suitable for adding milk or making masala chai.
However when you are considering tea from a health perspective loose leaf teas are what is worth your money. High quality teas are made with the top quality harvested leaves and they usually dont shred during the processing and end up as more leafy grade teas with a more wiry and twisted appearance. They open up as bigger leaves when they are brewed using hot water.
By variations in the processing methods alone the raw tea leaves can be made into various types of teas like White , Green , Yellow, Oolong ,Black and some Post Fermented Dark teas also.
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