Here at the Tea Junction we are passionate about our teas. When you pop the kettle on to enjoy your morning cuppa it’s hard to imagine the long history and traditions that have been associated with tea over the centuries. Although a cup of tea is thought of as being typically British, the history of tea goes back a very long way.
Legend has it that in 2737 BC the Chinese Emperor and herbalist Shennong accidentally discovered tea whilst sitting beneath a Camellia sinensis plant. Whist the Emperor’s servant was boiling water for him to drink, the wind blew a few of the plant’s leaves into the water. When Shennong taste the accidental infusion he found it to be tasty and refreshing, and so the tea that we know today was discovered. The use of tea as a drink and also as a medicine became wide spread during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), interestingly archaeologists recently came across the oldest tea in the world amongst the burial treasures in a tomb belonging to an emperor from the Han Dynasty.
It was Dutch and Portuguese trading ships in the 16th century who first brought tea to Europe where it soon become a fashionable, and expensive, drink amongst European royalty and aristocrats, however it wasn’t until the 17th century that tea first reached England where it was introduced in the London coffee houses.
Although tea was a hugely popular drink in England by the 18th century, high taxation and inflated prices by the East India Company meant that it was an expensive commodity, which lead to smuggled tea being brought in illegally. Most of the tea was smuggled into Britain via the South coast of England, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
Thankfully today we don’t have to rely on smugglers for our tea, and we are able to stock a wide range of teas at the Tea Junction:
- Black tea is the most oxidised of all the tea types and generally has a stronger flavour than other teas. We stock black teas from China, India & Sri Lanka. Most black tea is made from fully oxidised green tea leaves.
- White tea is famous for its mellow, delicate flavour and its smooth mouth feel. Made from young buds and leaves harvested in early spring, white tea is the least processed of all teas and undergoes very little oxidation.
- Green tea has a history that stretches back thousands of years. Today there is an almost unfathomable variety, ranging widely in shape and flavour. Green tea is kept green by halting the oxidation process very early on, and tends to be light and sweet or fresh and grassy – however some exhibit rich, umami (savoury) flavours.
- Oolong (or Wulong) is a type of tea that is allowed to partially oxidise after withering. Originally grown in Fujian Province China, Oolong is now produced in several locations and processed into a remarkable assortment of highly specialised teas.
- Tisanes whilst strictly not tea, is still as tasty and refreshing and includes our very popular Cloud Catcher, a blend of apple, kiwi, coconut and sour cherries which we’ve also infused into a Gin!