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The History Of Green Tea
During the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD), production and preparation of tea changed throughout China. Even then, people were looking for convenience; a new form of tea emerged as a result of people wanting more and more tea without having to take the time to brew the leaves. The tea leaves were picked and quickly steamed to preserve their color and fresh character. After steaming, the leaves were dried. The finished tea was then ground into fine powders that were whisked in wide bowls. The resulting beverage resembled what we know of today as instant tea — you mixed the tea powder with hot water and voilà! Your tea was ready in an instant.
This tea was highly regarded for its deep emerald or iridescent white appearance and its rejuvenating and healthy energy. This style of tea preparation, using powdered tea and ceramic ware, became known as the Song tea ceremony. Although it later became extinct in China, this Song style of tea evolved into what is now the Japanese tea ceremony that endures still today.
Today, there are between 12,500 and 20,000 green teas produced in China alone (although they are named and renamed so many times — for no apparent reason — that no one knows exactly how many there are). It is similar to wine in that respect. There are thousands of vineyards that produce wines; not all of them make it to market, or are meant to do so. It’s the same with tea in China. There are thousands of individual tea plantations and each produces its own variety of tea. Some are meant only for an individual farmer’s consumption; others may be distributed in a local area; and still others are grown for the commercial market and shipped worldwide.
As with white tea, the bud and leaves for green tea are picked, cleaned, and dried. The tea leaves then undergo a minimal amount of oxidation. Green tea has very low levels of caffeine, and derives its distinctive, healthy good flavor from the area in which it is grown and the techniques used to produce the tea.
The processing sequence for green tea is:
1. Leaves and buds are harvested.
2. Leaves and buds are cleaned.
3. Leaves and buds are dried.
4. In Japan, the leaves are steamed, which stops any fermentation.
5. In China, the leaves are placed in very hot woks to stop any fermentation.
6. The tea is then rolled, cut, ground, or shaped into a form uniquely associated with the plantation on which it is grown.
Dragon’s Well is the most famous of Chinese green teas; it grows on the peaks of the Tieh Mu (t’yeh MOO) mountain range. Chinese mythology tells us that the dragon is the king of the waters. History tells us that in 250 AD, there was a drought at the Dragon’s Well monastery. A monk prayed to the dragon, pleading for rain. His prayers were immediately answered, and the tea produced there received its name.
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Dr. Leroy Rebello is a well established and internationally qualified anti-aging consultant and cosmetologist from Mumbai and a director in Eternesse – the best skin clinic in Mumbai. He lectures in reputed Institutions such as AIIMS, JIPMER and other Medical Colleges around India. With over 10 Research Papers published in Indexed Journals, Dr. Rebello is continuously researching and developing new treatments and cures.
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