WHERE TEA IS GROWN
In the early 20-ies of the XIX century, in India, in the province of Assam, wild tea trees were discovered, and since then the breeding of the Assam tea began. In Ceylon people started to grow tea only in 1869. Today, tea is grown in almost forty countries around the world, but most of the tea is produced in India, China, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Indonesia, Turkey and Vietnam.
Ceylon teas are appreciated around the world for special delicate taste and distinctive aroma. Generous lands and humid hot climate of this "island of tea" is ideal for the tea plant.
Today Sri Lanka is the largest importer of tea. The main tea plantations in Ceylon are located in the center of the island. The most famous of them are Nuwara Elia, Dimbulah, Yuva, Kandy, Ruhunu.
Indian teas are divided into two large groups - the North Indian and South Indian. The major part of Northern teas is collected in the province of Assam. «Assam tea» is especially spicy, dark and strong with rich, shimmering infusion.
One of the best varieties of tea – Darjeeling is grown on the high-mountain Himalayan plantations. Sometimes it is also called «The Champagne of Teas» for its amber bright infusion and exceptional musky spiceness, which is sometimes described as muscatel.
South Indian teas are relatively homogeneous, sometimes "harsh" in their taste, so they are often drunk with milk. The exception is high-mountain South Indian teas, and above all, unique teas grown on the plantations of Nilgiri, located at an altitude of 1800m above sea level.
Teas grown in China, are very diverse, but their common feature is the richness of the aromatic palette of taste and flavor timbre.
The tradition of tea cultivation and tea leaves processing is still carefully cherished in China, the traditions which have formed for several thousand years. During drying and fermentation Chinese tea aquires a specific fruity or fruit and smoky smell, which makes this tea so unique and special.
Almost all plantations in Kenya are located high in the mountains and the tea collected there is appreciated all over the world as ecologically clean product. Kenyan teas differ in their peculiar abundance of taste and bright color of infusion.
Indonesian tea is harvested in the islands of Java and Sumatra. All Indonesian teas differ in specific taste, but it’s believed that Sumatran teas give way to Javan in terms of quality.
Tropical climate of the country and abundance of rains create perfect conditions for tea plant cultivation. Basically, the tea is grown in the highlands and the northern highlands of Vietnam and in the delta of the Red river, while Southern plantations are located in Lam Dong province. «Northern» teas are of better quality compared to those grown in the South, while green Vietnamese tea is far not worse than best Chinese sorts in terms of quality.
HOW TEA IS HARVESTED
Tea is grown solely for the purpose of leaves. The leaves are collected as many times a year as tea plant vegetates, i.e. gives new shoots with leaves. In Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, in the south of India and in China summer is all year round. The further to the north the plantations are located the shorter is tea harvesting season: in North-Eastern India it lasts eight months, in the North of China tea leaves are harvested up to four times a year from April till September.
Tea is harvested by hands, not all leaves are picked, just a few of them – the youngest and most juicy with a portion of the stem on which they have grown and the so-called bud (or tip) – an unexpanded leaf at the end of the shoot.
Some of the leaves, a part of the stem and the tip are called “flush”. Flush is the foundation of production. Flush with two or three leaves is called "golden flush". Flushes are collected with three, four and even five leaves.
TEA – WHAT CAN IT BE
Tea of each variety, in its turn, is divided into several kinds, depending on the character of machine leaf processing and method of production. The main types of tea include: leaf tea, granular (referred to as CTC), packaged, flavored.
In terms of leaf size, tea is divided into four categories: leaf tea , brokens, fannings and dust.
Leaf teas have several standards depending on the content of tips and the degree of tea leaves twist.
Broken or medium size leaf teas may also differ in the degree of tea leaves twist and the content of tips. Such teas are brewed quicker, while the tea infusion has a beautiful and deep colour.
Small tea fractions - «fannings» – brans from the flesh of a tea leaf, are mainly used for packaged tea production. Tea dust – are tiniest particles of the tea leaf.
CTC tea consists of granules prepared by special technology – a tea leaf is cut, grinded into jelly-like mass which then serves for making granules of various kinds and sizes.
Flavored teas have a smell of different fruits, berries, flowers, spices. For aromatization, tea is either mixed with these additions or aroma essences are added to dried finished tea.
Grounded tea leaves or small granules are used for packaged tea production. Packaged tea production is fully automated.
HOW COFFEE GROWS?
Regions of coffee cultivation – is a quite narrow strip stretching along the equator. It is called a coffee belt.
Today, coffee is grown in Central and South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
Science knows several of botanic coffee plants species, but the coffee consumers are interested only in two of them: Arabica (Coffea arabica), which is valued for its bright aroma and smooth taste and Robusta (Coffea canephora), which has a strong intense flavor.
Coffee beans – are the seeds of a coffee tree. The seeds are inside the coffee cherry, usually two of them in each. Coffee cherries are collected when they turn red. Coffee is collected mostly by hands. The season for harvesting coffee is different for each country which produces coffee and usually takes several months.
Two methods are used for coffee cherry processing – wet and dry. A wet method is used only if coffee is of a high quality,the dry method is used for less aromatic seeds, because this method is simpler and doesn’t require expensive equipment.
Each coffee tree annually gives 2,5-3 kilograms of coffee-berries, 500 grams of which is green coffee and 400 grams is roasted coffee.
HOW COFFEE CONQUERED THE WORLD
Ethiopia is considered to be a homeland of coffee.
The most popular legend has it that humanity discovered amazing qualities of coffee thanks to Ethiopian shepherd Kaddi. Once he noticed that his goats while herding on mountain slopes, become very high-spirited after eating leaves and berries from some wild bush. Being curious, Kaddi decided to try those red berries, which looked like cherries. He felt such an incredible burst of energy, that he couldn’t stop be awake for three days.
After Ethiopia coffee appeared in Yemen - where «domestication» of coffee began and the drink itself was invented. For two centuries Yemen was the only country supplying coffee on the world market. Starting from Yemen, coffee began to spread to all the continents of the globe. This was greatly influenced by the fact that Yemen was located on the important trade routes, leading from East Africa and Southeast Asia to the Middle East and Europe.
In Europe, people first heard about coffee in 1592 after the Italian physician and botanist Prospero Alpini who accompanied the Venetian Embassy to Egypt, described coffee as a drink brewed from the coffee beans, which can be an effective medicine.
However, wine and beer merchants objected to spreading coffee around Europe, because they didn’t like the fact that cafeterias will “steal” their visitors. But, in spite of everything, in the XVII century, coffee became the most popular drink in Italy, Hungary, Poland, Germany, France and Sweden.