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A Tea Guide’s Tea Guide

Posted Jan 12 2014 9:15am


Tea Plantation Kandee

It’s hard to believe it’s already been a week since we’ve returned from Sri Lanka. My mind is still reeling from all of the new experiences we had! From sighting wild leopards to white water rafting, to staying in tents that were more like hotel rooms (and staying in tents that were definitely tents) — it was an incredible trip.

One of the most educational parts of our adventure was going to visit one of Sri Lanka’s many beautiful tea plantations. The Sri Lankan landscape changes mile by mile, and so do the tea farms. One minute you’re looking at tea plants growing low between the rainforest trees, and another you’re staring at vertical plantations set on the side of mountains.

As you know, I work in the tea industry, which made this part of the trip even more magical. When I first began working, I was a tea guide, helping people find the perfect tea to compliment their tastes and drinking habits. I’ve since graduated to doing more corporate work, but I love the days when I return to the store to educate customers on the beauty and health benefits of tea.

And boy, are there health benefits. If I had a penny, etc. (Which, actually, I don’t; my wallet is so full of currencies at the moment that paying for an apple yesterday had the cashier and I in fits of giggles. Dirham from Dubai? Check. Sri Lankan Rupees? Check. A Canadian Twoonie? Check. But no USD to be found!}

Anyway. As many of you are lovely readers whom I likely won’t bump into at the tea party I call work, here are some of the incredible facts about tea that I love to share with my clients.

  • All tea comes from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. The color and flavor of the tea comes from the way it was processed. This means that your favorite white and your richest black actually come from the very same plant!
  • Tea is a natural antioxidant, and rich in B vitamins.
  • Tea is generally picked in four “flushes”, four times a year.
  • Tea leaves go through a five stage process to get from plant to cup: pluck, wither, roll, oxidize, fire
  • Green and White teas, generally, are unfermented. They are as close to the tea plant as you can get. Black teas are fermented, and oolongs fall somewhere in between.
  • While there is crazy buzz about green teas here in North America, Oolong tea is the darling of the Asian health world.
  • There are so many stories about each kind of tea; apparently, Oolong tea was named after a Chinese farmer who was distracted by a deer while he was processing his tea crop. He returned to his leaves to find that they had changed color, but he finished drying them anyway, and when he steeped them he fell in love with the sweeter, mellower flavor. To this day, oolong goes through a similar process, and the flavor is out of this world!


{Galaboda Plantation in Sri Lanka}

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