Tea (2700 BC) is a hot, bitter drink made from the leaves of the tea tree of Asia. It is commonly drunk in China, Japan, India, Britain, Australia and elsewhere. Countries that do not drink much tea often drink a lot of coffee instead, like America and Germany.
Tea is made by adding boiled water to processed tea leaves and letting it sit for a few minutes. Most add milk and some add sugar to sweeten it.
Tea helps to keep your mind awake. For me it helps me to apply my mind to what I am doing, especially if it is something difficult that requires patience (like much of my work).
The substance in tea with that effect on the mind is called caffeine. While a cup of coffee has two to three times more caffeine than tea, tea has double the caffeine of Coke.
Unlike coffee, tea does not have enough caffeine to get you hooked. To know if you are hooked, go without caffeine for a day: if that seems like too long or if your head hurts, then you are hooked.
The other chief substance in tea is tannin. It gives tea its brown colour and bitter taste.
The four most common kinds of tea are black, green, white and oolong tea. They all come from the same tree. What makes them different is how the tea leaves are processed.
Tea leaves are dried and processed in a certain way. If you change the process or cut it short, you get a different sort of tea. Black tea uses the full process. It has the most caffeine.
Some say tea from India is better than the tea from China. The truth is, the tea you drink is probably from both. Tea sellers mix together teas from different parts of the world to get the kind of tea they want (and bring down the price).
Although tea is now grown all throughout the warmer parts of the world, most tea still came from China up until at least 1800. In the 1800s the British started to grow it in India, the Dutch in Java. Now it is grown even in Africa and South America.
Tea first appeared in China about 2700 BC as a medical treatment. After AD 200 people in China began to drink it every day.
Tea was brought to Europe in 1560 by the Portuguese.
Tea was not common in Britain till the middle 1700s when faster ships carried tea from China, bringing down the price. Even the poor began to drink tea instead of ale and gin. Some say it made big cities possible in China and Britain because it made people boil (often unsafe) water.
The tea tree (Camellia sinensis) comes in two kinds: the common one from China and another one from Assam in the north-east mountains of India. Tea trees, like banana trees, are kept short by growers.