1. WHY 'CEYLON' TEA
Sri Lanka is one of the most famous countries to produce tea and is one of the most fabulously enjoyed beverages in Sri Lanka. Tea for us is literally second to water, every single person in our Nation enjoys at least three cups a day, and that is just minimally. Every occasion is celebrated with a cup of tea, and we would not substitute it for anything else. It’s the poor mans' drink of choice and the rich mans' as well. There is something about the wonderful beverage that leaves you wanting for more. The unique tastes and the impeccable aromas of Ceylon Tea is what makes it famous around the globe.
Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) was introduced to Tea in the 1800's by James Taylor, he began a tea plantation in Kandy and started manufacturing tea. He made his first sale in Kandy and thus began the growth of the tea industry in Sri Lanka.
The ideal climatic conditions play a major role in the success of the growth of tea in Sri Lanka. 4% of the country's land is covered by tea plantations. The main tea growing areas are Nuwera Eliya, Kandy, Central Province, Bandarawela, Haputale, Uva Province, Galle, Matara, Southern Province, Ratnapura, Kegalle, Sabaragamuwa Province. The best tea are gathered from late June to the end of August in the eastern districts and from the beginning of February to mid-March in western districts.
Skilfully plucking the tea leaf is essential to the final quality of the tea, the two leaves and a bud, that is where the flavour and the aroma of tea is present, and this is plucked by women. Sri Lanka is one of the few countries that each leaf is plucked by hand instead of machinery, if they were to use machinery some of the coarse leaves as twigs would be mixed with the proper leaves which could destroy the flavour of the tea. The skilful women pluck around 15 to 20 kilos of tea leaves to be weighed and sent to the nearby tea factories.
Ceylon Black Tea is the most famously known tea around the globe. The high-grown black tea has a honey golden liquor and light and is among the best teas which has a distinct flavour, aroma and strength. The low-grown teas has a burgundy brown liquor and stronger in taste. And the mid-grown teas are strong, rich and full-bodied. Ceylon black tea is famous around the world and is used as the base for many blends such as Earl Grey tea, and many other fruit flavoured teas.
Black tea is not the only tea produced, Ceylon green tea is mainly grown in Idalgashinna in the Uva Province. The Ceylon Green Tea generally has a fuller body, and has a pungent, malty and nutty flavour. Green tea in Sri Lanka has its own characteristics, they are darker in both the dry and infused leaf, and has a rich flavour different from other green teas. Much of the green teas produced in Sri Lanka has an acquired taste and are exported to the North African and the Middle Eastern markets. Other than the Black and the Green tea Sri Lanka specializes in White Tea which is also known as 'silver tips'. This is one of the priciest teas in Sri Lanka, price of a kilo of White Tea in higher than that of Green and Black tea. White Tea was first grown in Nuwera-Eliya. The tea is grown, harvested and rolled by hand and the leaves are dried and withered in the sun. it has a delicate and light liquoring and contains notes of pine and honey and a golden coppery infusion.
Sri Lankan tea is a great success in the international markets, and despite the ever growing competition from India and China, Sri Lanka remains one of the world's top tea exporters. The most important international markets of Sri Lankan tea are the Middle East, Russia, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, the UK and Japan.
The 'Lion Logo' in the packages of the tea produced in Sri Lanka is an important factor. It is closely monitored by the Sri Lankan Tea board and if a manufacturer is to acquire this particular logo, they need to go through a series of inspections that are done by the Sri Lankan Tea Board and if they pass these inspections they are allowed to use the Lion Logo which depicts as 'Pure Ceylon Tea- Packed in Sri Lanka'.
Ceylon Tea is indeed exquisitely famous for its rich tastes and aromas, and it is made with a lot of care and love, so that everybody around the globe has the privilege of tasting such a wonderful beverage.
2. BEST TYPE OF TEA
In assessing the value of Ceylon tea, some of the properties which tea experts take into consideration are appearance of the made tea, colour of the infused leaf, as well as colour, strength, quality, aroma and flavour of the brewed liquor. The ultimate criterion of a ‘good quality’ tea is however the subjective assessment of expert professional tea tasters.
Ceylon tea is divided into various grades. These grade names are an indication of size or appearance of manufactured leaf and not of its quality. Briefly, Ceylon teas are divided into two groups: (1) the Leaf grades such as were originally made by the Ceylon pioneers, and (2) the smaller Broken grades which are in style today.
Leaf grades are usually divided into:
· Orange Pekoe (O.P)
· Pekoe (Pek.)
· Souchong (Sou.)
Broken grades are divided into:
· Broken Orange Pekoe (B.O.P.)
· Broken Pekoe (B.P.)
· Broken Pekoe Souchong (B.P.S.)
· Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings (B.O.P.F.)
· Dust (D.)
(See Appendix 1 for detailed tea grading system)
The grades may be described as follows:
· O.P. -- Long, thin, wiry leaves which sometimes contain tip. The liquors are light or pale in color.
· Pek. -- The leaves of this grade are shorter and not so wiry as O.P., but the liquors generally have more color.
· Sou. -- A bold and round leaf, with pale liquors.
· B.O.P. -- This grade is one of the most sought after. It is much smaller than any of the leaf grades and contains tip. The liquors have good color and strength.
· B.P. -- Slightly larger than B.O.P., with rather less color in the cup; useful primarily as a filler in a blend.
· B.P.S -- A little larger that B.P. and in consequence lighter in the cup, but also used as filler in a blend.
· B.O.P.F. -- This grade also is much sought after, especially in the U.K., and fetches high prices. It is much smaller than B.O.P. and its main virtues are quick brewing, with good colour in the cup.
In addition, there are various “Flowery” variants of the main grades (e.g., F.O.P and F.B.O.P.). Only a small quantity of the Leaf and Flowery grades is produced in Ceylon. They find their chief market in North America and a few European countries. Few of the Up-country Ceylons make these grades at all, their stable lines being B.O.P. and B.O.P.F. such as are so dominant in the U.K., Australia and (less so) in South Africa. The demand appears to be for ever smaller and smaller leaf, and a great deal of cutting or milling is resorted to today both in countries of origin and by the packers. “Tippy” or “Flowery” teas (such grades as Flowery Orange Pekoe) are still made in Ceylon and fetch high prices in most Western tea markets. They are extremely more expensive to produce than the run-of-the-mill grades, since they involve sorting out the tip by hand.
3. STORAGE & SHELF-LIFE
There are very important rules to observe in regard to storage of tea.
Keep fresh tea away from air, heat, light, and moisture. Each of these will cause the tea to deteriorate or to go stale. Always store tea in a clean, dry airtight container free of foreign odorous. Remember to use a dry spoon, always, and to close the container tightly after use to retain aroma and flavor.
Place the loose leaf tea in a non-plastic container. Preferably use a container that is made from tin or aluminum. Plastic can transfer an odor and spoil the taste of the tea. It should be airtight; if not, place the tea in a sealable bag first, although be careful of the odor of the bag if it's plastic. After usage, tightly close or seal the container every single time. This ensures that the tea maintains its freshness, flavor and aroma.
Store the tea in a dark, cool, and dry location. Light and moisture are tea's biggest enemies as they will activate enzymes that contribute to its decomposition. The perfect place to store tea is in a pantry that has an automatic light switch and its temperature constant, unaffected by climate change. A kitchen cabinet is the next best location. Keep flavored tea apart from plain varietal or origin (pure) teas. Otherwise, the flavored tea will overpower all the other teas in the cubby. Conduct a sniff test before storing. Blended teas may have a flavor that is overwhelming. Keep smoky teas well separated; they are the most potent.
Buy smaller quantities of tea and drink them faster to retain freshness.
Tightly seal bag or close tin after each use.
Place tea over the stove. The heat and moisture will harm it.
Place tea in the refrigerator or freezer. This will burn the taste and kill the aroma.
Store tea in a garage. It will be exposed to light and moisture which are the primary causes of deteriorating tea.
Purchase tea that comes in a see-through glass container. You may not know how long that tea has been sitting on the shelf.
Do not store tea along with other pungent grocery and toilet items such as oils, soaps, dried fish and spices.
Expiration/ Shelf life
The general rule of thumb regarding tea's freshness is that you should consume it within a year of purchase, noting that some of the more delicate teas may start losing their flavour after 6 months. Some types will last more than a year, if well stored.
Tea has a shelf-life that varies with storage conditions and type of tea. Black tea has a longer shelf-life than green tea. Tea stays freshest when stored in a dry, cool, dark place in an air-tight container. Black tea stored in a bag inside a sealed opaque canister may keep for two years. Green tea loses its freshness more quickly, usually in less than a year. Storage life for all teas can be extended by using desiccant packets or oxygen absorbing packets, and by vacuum sealing.
When storing green tea, discreet use of refrigeration or freezing is recommended. In particular, drinkers need to take precautions against temperature variation.
Improperly stored tea may lose flavor, acquire disagreeable flavors or odors from other foods, or become moldy.
4. HEALTH BENEFITS
Tea, one popular beverage, affordable and loved by billions of people around the world, is entirely beneficial and may in fact have preventive and curative health properties when consumed regularly.
Medical benefits have been claimed for tea for as long as it has been drunk. The origins of the ‘cuppa’ are lost to the ages, yet when we first hear of tea it is in a medicinal connection: a Chinese text, The Divine Farmer’s Herb-Root Classic, dating from around 250BC, recommends infusions of tea-leaves for the treatment of tumours, abscesses, bladder ailments and lethargy. Since then, generation after generation of medical authorities have sung the praises of tea; and today, a popular encyclopaedia lists no less than 22 separate claimed health benefits for the beverage, ranging from protection against HIV infection to the elimination of bad breath.
WHAT’S IN THE CUP?
Tea is processed from the tender shoots of the plant Camellia sinensis, typically the bud and the first two leaves of the tea plant. ‘Herbal’ teas are usually made from plants other than tea and will not have the same taste or health benefits.
Tea, though it has almost no calories, contains a surprising quantity of nutrients and medicinal ingredients. Among the former are vitamins such as thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin, biotin and inositol. Vitamin E is also present in tea. Tea is also rich in potassium although its content of sodium, a related metal associated with vascular disease when consumed in large quantities, is very low. This makes tea ideal for people suffering from high blood pressure. Tea also contains calcium, zinc and manganese.
In addition to these nutrients, tea-drinking promotes dental health because of the fluoride it contains. Fluoride also helps support bone mineralization.
The polyphenols found in tea are important anti-oxidants, which scour the blood of ‘free radicals’ that have been linked to cancer and other diseases.
(See Appendix 2 for more details on Health Benefits of Tea)
5. HOW YOU MAKE A GREAT CUP OF CEYLON TEA
Use only the finest Ceylon tea.
Bring the water to boil. And rinse the tea pot and tea cups with hot water.
Pour the boiling water into the pot containing the tea leaves.
Keep the lid closed while allowing the tea to brew for 4-5 minutes. To get the best taste over brewing is to be avoided.
Strain the tea out into cups thereafter. Use a "Tea cosy" to keep the pot warm should there be a delay in serving.
The quantity of tea leaves used will vary according to taste. Generaly 10g of tea makes 4 cups. Experiment till you get it just right. Adding sugar and warm milk will reduce the effects of over brewing.
Anon, (2015). 1st ed. [ebook] Available at: http://www.ksre.k-state.edu/humannutrition/foodstorage-documents/Virginia348-960_pdf.pdf [Accessed 14 Dec. 2015].
Dilmahtea.com, FAQ’s about tea | Welcome to Dilmah - the Freshest & Finest Tea. [online] Available at: http://www.dilmahtea.com/faqs-about-tea [Accessed 14 Dec. 2015].
Pureceylontea.com, Sri Lanka Tea Board Official Web Site. [online] Available at: http://www.pureceylontea.com [Accessed 14 Dec. 2015].
Tea Research Institute Sri Lanka, (n.d.). [online] Available at: http://www.tri.lk/ [Accessed 15 Dec. 2015].
Tea.lk, Tea Grades | TEA.LK. [online] Available at: http://www.tea.lk/types-of-tea/tea-grades/ [Accessed 15 Dec. 2015].
BOP Sp – Larger in size than a BOP lack and clean in appearance. Note: BOP & BOP special be treated as two grades, but for cataloging purposes treat as one grade.
BOP 1 – Should be wiry and twisted, but shorter than an OP1.
FBOP – Smaller/shorter than BOP1 with presence of tips, but larger than FBOPF1.
FBOP 1 – Long, twisted, wiry leaf. Fairly tippy. Longer than BOP1.
PEKOE – Shotty, curly or semi-cirly leaf of large size of any elevation.
PEKOW1 – Same as Pekoe, but smaller in size than Pekoe of any elevation. This replaces the Flowery Pekoe grade.Note: Pekoe and Fekoe 1 will be treated as two grades, but for cataloguing purposes treat as one grade.
FBOPF (FF) – Similar in size to BOP……… and must contain tips.
FBOPF 1 (FF1) – Larger than BOP. Smaller than a FBOP with a show of tips.
FBOPF – Similar in size to BOP with a fair presence of tips.
FBOPF Ex. Sp1 - Leafy and must have an attractive show of golden or silver tips with little black leaf.
OP 1 – Long, wiry well or partly twisted.
OP - Less wiry than OP1, but much more twisted than OPA.
BP – (Off Grades) – Should e choppy, hard leaf.
BOP 1A – (Off Grades) – Any flak leaf without stalk and fiber (Clean tea).
BM (BROKENS) - (Off Grades) Mixed flaky leaf tea. Can have more fiber and stalk than BOP 1A.
BT – (Off Grades) – All mixed teas of varying sizes, with or without stalk and fiber.
FNGS 1 (FGS1) – (Off Grades) – Flaky leaf of small size. Can contain more fiber than BOPF, but reasonably clean.
FNGS (FGS) – (Off Grades) – Same as Fannings 1. Can be more fiber and uneven and not as clean as Fannings1.
DUST1 - Smaller than BOPF. (Rainy even well-made and reasonably clean)
DUST - (Off Grades) ………… size to Dust 1. Could be flaky and contain some fiber.
BP1 – Equivalent to size of a high grown BOP, but granular.
BP Special – Larger particle size than BP1.
PF 1 – Equivalent in size to grainy high grown BOPF, but granular.
OF – Smaller than the PF 1. Larger than PD.
PF – (Off Grades) – Similar or slightly larger than PF1 and may contain some fiber.
PD – Grainy Dust grade. Should be smaller than OF.
DUST 1 – Less grainy than PD. Clean.
DUST - (Off Grades) – Inferior to Dust 1. Could be powdery and fibry.
In addition, there are the various “Flowery” varieties of the main grades (e.g. FOP and FBOPF).This tea possesses extraordinary quality in liquor and is composed almost entirely of small golden tip which are the extreme ends of the small succulent shoots of the plant, and the preparation of such tea is course most costly, since it involves sorting out the tip by hand.
Only small quantities of the leafy and flowery grades are produced. The former finds their chief markets in South America, and to a lesser degree in North Africa and a few North African countries. The latter is mostly popular in the Middle East, particularly Iran. Few of the up-country estates make these grades at all. Their stable lines are BOP and BOPF such as are dominant in Britain, Australia and South Africa. The demand appears to be forever smaller and smaller leaf, and a great deal of cutting or milling is resorted today, both in countries of origin and by the packers.
Source: Forbes & Walker
Extreme or bizarre claims must, of course, be taken with a grain of salt. Far more trustworthy are the benefits proclaimed or suggested by genuine scientific research. When subjected to chemical analysis, tea turns out to contain a number of ingredients whose health-promoting properties are well established. It is also nutritious: taken with milk, four cups of tea a day can provide:
approximately 17% of the recommended intake for calcium
5% for zinc
22% for Vitamin B2
5% for folic acid
5% for Vitamins B1 and B6
The manganese and potassium in a cup of tea also helps maintain the body’s fluid balance.
Besides these ingredients, tea contains a unique amino acid, theanine, which has a relaxing effect on humans and also assists the natural immune response to infection. The modest amount of caffeine in tea also acts as a mild mood enhancer.
Perhaps the most significant health-promoting properties of tea lie in the antioxidants or ‘flavonoids’ it contains. Antioxidants are compounds that help remove harmful toxins from the bloodstream, and tea contains uniquely high concentrations of them. Research has shown that consuming such antioxidants can lower the risk of heart disease, strokes and cancer.
There are also indications that antioxidants in tea may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and age-related memory impairment. Black and green tea both contain higher levels of antioxidants than common fruits or vegetables.
Even if we disregard extravagant, scientifically unsupported claims, the established health benefits of tea are numerous. Many of these benefits are preventive, suggesting that a few cups of tea a day can help stave off heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and many forms of cancer.
Animal and in vitro studies have shown that tea polyphenols may react directly with and neutralise chemical carcinogens, including those causing cancers of the skin, lungs, oral cavity, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, pancreas, bladder, and prostate. In addition to the antioxidant ‘scavenging’ activity mentioned above, tea polyphenols may also alter enzymes involved in tumour formation, inhibit malignant cell proliferation and act against forms of bacteria that promote gastric cancers. According to some American studies, tea drinking may also protect against breast and ovarian cancers.
Tea and heart disease
Epidemiological studies have shown that regular tea consumption is linked to decreased risk from heart disease and stroke. While the data from different tests contains some inconsistencies, ‘meta-analyses’ comparing all the available population studies have tended to confirm the relationship, with regular and frequent tea drinkers showing risk levels up to 20% lower than those who do not, or rarely, consume it. Another study suggested that drinking three cups of tea a day reduces the risk of myocardial infarction by 11%.
Tea and oral health
Containing significant amounts of fluoride, tea can contribute considerably to daily fluoride intake, helping reduce tooth decay. Tea polyphenols may also inhibit the growth of bacteria which cause decay, or make them less harmful to the teeth. Recent research indicates that tea could also inhibit the growth of harmful micro-organisms that cause inflammation and oral diseases, including certain oral cancers.
Tea and your digestion
It has been found that consumption of tea can reduce the quantity of harmful microorganisms such as Enterobacteriacea found in the digestive tract, simultaneously increasing the number of beneficial ones and promoting digestive health.