What is Tea?

Lin Yutang

What is tea?

In the words of Lin Yutang (1895-1976), the Chinese philosopher, novelist, inventor and lover of tea:

“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.”
The Importance of Living, 1937.

We are very much in agreement, and the fact that tea induces a little peace of mind in our daily lives is one of the reasons we love it. But what actually is tea?

In a nutshell, tea is the infusion made by steeping the leaves and buds of the Camellia sinensis tea bush in hot water. 

Once picked, the raw leaves and buds go through a number of processes to develop flavour, including heating, rolling, oxidation and drying. Depending on the processes used, the finished leaves will be categorised as either white, green, yellow, oolong, black or dark. 

Real tea from the Camellia sinensis plant is naturally caffeinated, so if you’re sensitive to caffeine, or bedtime is nigh, better to opt for a tisane such as mint or chamomile instead. 

Tisanes, or infusions made by steeping dried herbs, fruits, spices and bark in water, are often referred to as herbal teas, but they don’t contain any real tea (although a few are caffeinated). More technically correct terms are tisane or herbal infusion, which neatly make the distinction from real tea.

Dried herbs, spices and fruit can also be added to real tea to create a flavoured tea with a different taste profile. However, with a high-quality tea, it’s a shame not to try the tea unadulterated, and appreciate the essential tea flavour. It would be a little like adding coca cola to a fine malt whisky.😱 Likewise, we always recommend you try Jersey Fine Tea first without milk or sugar.😊

On that note, nothing is added to our Jersey tea during the tea making process, and only water is removed. Yet, the flavour is compelling. Nature really is quite wonderful. 

There is so much to say about tea, its complex chemistry, processing, history and culture. To join us on our tea journey and to learn more, check out our Tea Journal or sign up for our newsletter for news and updates.