Tea is a wonderful beverage! As the second most consumed beverage in the world, it’s clear that most of the world agrees. In the past decades the variety and quality of teas available in the U.S. has grown and improved so that there is now a world of sumptuous, fragrant, calming, uplifting, distinctive teas available to explore.
Part of what makes tea so fascinating is its variation around the world, not only in the types, tastes, and aromas of different teas but also in the rituals surrounding it. Green tea and oolongs may be dominant in Asia, but black tea is most often associated with Europe. White teas are subtle to the taste buds while the robustness of some black teas can rival a strong cup of coffee. In some cultures it would be unheard of to drink tea without milk; in others, very sweet tea is the custom.
Preparation and presentation can also vary widely. Look to Asia for an exquisite assortment of bamboo utensils for whipping up the perfect potion. Teapots and teacups range from sturdy earthenware vessels to elaborate and fragile-looking porcelain ware. Even the food served with tea varies widely from place to place. In some cultures entire philosophies have developed around tea drinking; elsewhere it’s regarded primarily as a social beverage.
It may be surprising to you that although thousands of different kinds of tea exist, all “true” teas come from a single species of plant, Camellia sinensis and its varieties. Think of it as you would grapes and wine—where the crop is grown, when it’s harvested and how it’s processed result in a very broad spectrum of differences in taste and color. Tea shops with menus reflecting this variety are springing up everywhere, and there are so many choices and facts about tea to consider when purchasing or even sipping tea. Should you buy loose tea, teabags, or tea cakes? What’s the difference between Chinese and Japanese green tea? Then there’s a lot of terminology and names that seem rather intimidating—and all those herbal concoctions that claim to cure so many ailments! How to sort through it all?!?
Whether the idea of a “journal” conjures up images of Captain Cook on the high seas, Lewis and Clark’s westward trek, or something less adventurous, you’d probably agree that the best journals are rich with information and fascinating tidbits, take you to places unexpected, and evolve with every new page. So whether your interest is in the tea plants themselves, where it grows, the rich history of tea, its health benefits, how to make tea, types of tea, finding tea shops, or other facts about tea, you can find it in these pages.
Tea should be pleasurable, not intimidating. You can easily spend a lifetime learning all there is to know about tea, but we think that by learning some basic facts about tea, tea plants, and how they’re harvested and processed you’ll gain a greater appreciation for it and be able to wade through any tea menu or grocery store tea aisle with ease—and have more time to spend enjoying this delightful beverage.