Here’s the lowdown on tea

All real tea comes from the plant Camellia sinensis (from the same family as ornamental camellias). Where it is grown (mostly in China, Japan and India), when the leaves are picked and how they are processed determines how it will look, smell and taste.

Green teas are not fermented; the leaves are quickly sun-dried, pan-roasted and rolled into graceful shapes and sizes.

Oolong teas are partially fermented; the leaves are left long and whole, then bruised and oxidized to a brownish color, which is why oolong is sometimes called brown tea.

Black teas are fully fermented; the leaves undergo a long process of oxidation and drying, and the size of the leaves varies greatly.

Scented teas are made by adding natural oils or flower petals, such as jasmine or rose, to green, brown or black teas.

Tea in the kitchen
With hundreds of tea varieties to choose from these days, it’s fun to experiment with their flavors. Besides being steeped for sipping, tea can be:
• Infused in liquids, including stock and cream.
• Used as a braising liquid.
• Brewed and added to sauces or syrups.
• Powdered or crushed as a marinade or rub.
• Combined with rice, sugar and spices to make a smoking mixture.
• Used as a coloring agent.
• Used as decorative garnish.
(By, July 2004), July 2004