The word Antiquity means the ancient past, especially the period before the middle ages. Tea dates back to ancient China, almost 5000 years ago, hence the name AntiquiTEAs. According to legend, Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea when leaves from a tree blew into his boiling pot of water. He was immediately intrigued by the pleasant scent of the brew and drank some.
Tea is the world’s second most popular drink, after water. We tend to call anything we infuse in hot water tea, but specifically it’s only tea if it’s made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, indigenous to China and India.
What determines whether the tea plant will become black, green, white, or oolong tea is oxidation. The oxidation period begins when the tealeaf is plucked from the plant and ends when it is heat-treated. Black tea is fully oxidized while white tea is the least bit oxidized.
Black teas are fully oxidized and range from 40-60 milligrams of caffeine per 8oz cup. The origin of black tea is China, India, and Sri Lanka, but is now also produced in Nepal, Turkey, Indonesia, Kenya, and Australia. After the leaves are plucked, they are given time to wither then rolled or crushed by hand or by machine. This activated the oxidation process and the leaves turn black, then they are fired in ovens to stop the oxidation process.
Green tea is heated immediately after plucking. This maintains the leaves colors, tannins, vitamin C, chlorophyll, and minerals. The heat stops the leaf from withering or oxidizing. The lack of oxidation is responsible for its low caffeine content. Chinese green teas contain about 30-35 milligrams of caffeine per 8oz cup, while Japanese green teas contain about 25-30 milligrams of caffeine per cup. Green tea is traditionally from China and Japan.
White tea is plucked when the tea buds are still young. It is the least processed tea, which is why the least amount of caffeine is released ranging from 10-15 milligrams per 8oz cup. White tea is the most delicate of teas, because the leaves are not rolled or crushed in the process. White tea traditionally comes from China, but it is gaining popularity quickly here in America.
Some like to say oolong is the cousin of green tea and black tea; this is because they have the complexity of black tea and the freshness of green tea. Oolong is a semi-oxidized tea, the caffeine content and antioxidant level is also between green and black tea making is the healthiest tea. The caffeine content of oolong decreases with ever brew of the same leaves. Starting at 30-50 milligrams in the first cup, 15-25 milligrams in the second cup, and 5-10 milligrams in the third cup. Yes, you can steep the same tealeaves more than one time. After you’re done with the tealeaves, feel free to toss them in your garden to provide for your other growing plants. Oolong traditionally comes from Taiwan and China.
Maté is a species of the holly plant. It is a stimulating drink, about 35 milligrams per 8oz cup. High in vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, it can also be an appetite suppressant. It helps maintain alertness and focus without the negative affects of caffeine. Maté comes from South America, specifically the northern regions of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and southern Brazil. AntiquiTEAs sources maté from Argentina. After plucking, the leaves are dried and them chopped up.
Indigenous to the Cedarburg Mountain in South Africa, rooibos or red bush tea is a naturally caffeine-free herbal tea. The leaves are plucked during the summer while still green and the oxidation process allows the leaves to turn red. Rooibos includes many replenishing minerals such as iron, potassium, copper, alpha-hydroxy, and zinc.
Tisane, or “herbal tea”, is a term for any non-caffeinated beverage made from the infusion or decoction of herbs, spices, or other plant material. These drinks are distinguished from caffeinated beverages like coffee, maté, kuding, and the true teas (black, green, white, yellow, oolong, etc.), or from a caffeinated tea, in which the caffeine has been removed. In addition to serving as a beverage, many tisanes are also consumed due to a perceived medicinal benefit.