TEa consumption and health from controlled organic and sustainable agriculture
White tea, green tea, yellow tea, Oolong tea, red tea and black tea?
When we say that for Chinese and Japanese people life without green tea is not possible, we must add that in China this applies also to white tea, yellow tea and Oolong tea.
All types of tea come ultimately from the same tea plant with the botanical name Camellia Sinensis (also called Thea Sinensis). The plants belong to the genus Camellia.
The young sprouts of the fresh tea plants are processed using different methods and processing times through heating, cooling, drying, curling and fermentation (oxidation) into different types of tea.
A cool climate with not too much sunlight is the prerequisite for an excellent high quality tea with a light coloured cup like green Oolong or Darjeeling first flush. So, in China the best qualities are produced after the winter pause. For these teas, in spring, only the white-haired buds and/or the two youngest leaves are picked (two leaves and a bud).
We class white tea, yellow tea and green Oolong among the group of only lightly fermented teas.
Teas with a high proportion of white tips are always the most expensive, regardless of the type of tea they have been processed to.
The optimal interaction between altitude, climate, tea plant, carefulness in harvest and processing is crucial for the best quality and for a high concentration of positive components in the tea.
Preconditions for a good, rich, light coloured cup of tea with a high percentage of healthy ingredients are, besides growing slowly after winter, the right plants, fog and humidity of the altitude in combination with moderate sunshine. This way, the taste and the active ingredients in the buds and the leaves can form and concentrate slowly.
When the solar irradiance becomes stronger in spring, some attentive producers cover the tea plants with special shading devices or with bamboo mats, which let pass only the necessary amount of sunlight. In order to be able to conduct enough photosynthesis, the plants produce hereupon more chlorophyll, which results in a higher concentration of active ingredients in the tea leaves.
High quality types of tea with a light coloured cup that have grown slowly under moderate sunshine have a particular fresh, sweetish, aromatical taste. Considered responsible for this is the L-Theanine, which particularly concentrates with slow growth and little sun exposure. This amino acid is said to relax both body and mind and to make us more resistant to stress. In late spring, summer and autumn, the stronger sunlight converts L-Theanine into D-Catechins, which give the tea the typical, slightly bitter taste.
Many tea producing countries are located close to the equator and do not experience winter or climatic growth pauses. These countries mainly produce black tea (also called red tea). During the processing of black tea, some positive components vanish. Nevertheless, black tea is said to also contain the components which are important for the healthy effect.
The components of tea have been analysed by scientists frequently in recent years for their multiple properties, and many of these studies have been published. Some scientists even assume a connection between the consumption of high quality tea and the high life expectancy of Asian people.
It helps the environment and the people
To enable also the consumers in Europe to enjoy exclusive organic tea, the packaging and storing need a lot of attention. In order to keep the precious organic tea fresh and prevent it from oxidizing, great attention must be dedicated to a closed packaging and storing cycle. Therefore, organic tea should be packed in vacuum or nitrogen packages, stored cool and preferably consumed quickly, when it is still fresh.
Taste has its price
Natural products for consumption and health enhancement, which are produced with big effort, have their price. There are different qualities for different prices. In order to buy a high quality tea, European consumers must clearly spend more than what the common consumer is willing to pay. For the most precious teas from China and Japan, which rarely end up in the European market, one must spend between 30 and 100 Euros for 100 grams. If one considers that an exquisite organic tea does not only bring enjoyment, but is also good for health, then a price of 1 to 2 euros per litre (ca. 10 to 20 Euros per 100g of tea leaves) is very reasonable. As from 100g of organic tea it is possible to obtain about 6 to 12 litres of tea, depending on the tea quantity and the taste of the consumer.
If one compares e.g. high quality teas with high quality wines, which are qualitatively at the same level, the price appears to us more than low.
The price seems even lower if we compare the quantity of the healthy organic tea with that of fruit juices, lemonades or other similar products. It is no coincidence that Asian countries developed a high tea culture while in western countries wine has rather cultural importance. We can still learn a lot from the Asian culture, especially when it comes to nutrition and health.