Camellia sinensis

Tea is an ancestral beverage with very deep and widely extended roots into the oriental culture, which historical origins take us to the far east lands. Both eastern and western countries have been using tea as a natural remedy, cure or cleanser, due to its many beneficial characteristics for our organism. Also, tea has been used as a bracing and energizing infusion, always associated with spiritual, reflection, meditation and find oneself moments. Numerous cultures share the magic and charm behind the preparation and consumption of tea, becoming an essential ritual.

 

The Camellia Sinensis, or tea plant, is a bush or small tree of approximately 2 metres height, that grows preferably in the acidic soil like the one found in Galicia. Because it is a perennial plant, we can ensure to have a leafy and colourful spot in our garden the whole year. Its fine white or cream-colored flowers lend to this variety of camellia an extraordinary elegance and delicacy that we can enjoy the months between November and February. Besides its great ornamental features, through the harvest and treatment of its leaves, we can obtain a variety of tea types in our own home.

Care and Collection

Native from hot and damp climates with periodic rain along the year, our Camellia Sinensis will require a medium sun exposure and a medium-high irrigation, always avoiding puddles on the roots area; to do so we recommend a loose substratum, not compacted. In the case of a very dry climate, it will be necessary to consider the sun exposure factor and place our plant in a gloomy area in order to extend humidity.

We can also put into practice some xeriscaping techniques, like applying a layer of organic mulch in our plant’s base, fresh cut lawn, for example, that will avoid water evaporation after watering. This camellia does not bear with extreme temperatures, for that reason temperature cannot be lower than -10ºC in any moment of the year. This is a bush that prefers acidic soil, therefore, if it was necessary, we can mend our soil by adding a substratum with a high content of organic materials.

The pruning will be performed between the months of February and March, previous the collection of the leaves, providing the plant with a good shape and branching. Although we can start collecting the leaves since the moment we take the plant home, with approximately … years, from the age of 4-5 years the quality of the tea will be supreme. We could collect the leaves from April to May every 15-20 days; it helps the plant clean-up as well as we obtain the fundamental elements to elaborate a completely natural and organic tea, free of chemicals that may carry harmful components for our organism.

The tea preparation requires only the new leaves; therefore, we must cut the two or three new leaves that grow together with the apical sprout. Once the leaves are collected, proceed with a drying process called “fix the green”, in which we place them in an air convection oven at 140ºC for 5 minutes. Having done that, roll the leaves in circles between your hands to get rid of the liquid that covers them and adds bitterness.

After the fixation of the green and the rolling process, either allow the tea to dry for a day and finish with a strong heat stroke at 90ºC for 10 minutes, or keep the fermentation process: in a moisture control oven keep the leaves rolled at 90/95 humidity and a temperature of 24ºC for 1 to 4 hours to get a partial fermentation, and 4 to 8 hours for a fully fermented tea.

Tea Types

The collection and processing of the apical sprouts exclusively that grow during the spring, green and tender, allow us to elaborate  White Tea:  a smooth tea with a low caffeine content, light flavour and very rich in vitamins and polyphenols.

If we use tender leaves instead of the sprouts, after the fixation, rolling and natural drying processes, we will obtain  Green Tea:  a special tea with a peculiar flavour, fresh and bitter at the same time, ideal for tea lovers, the essence of the plant can be perceived with each sip. It has a low caffeine level but many vitamins and antioxidants, although in a lower proportion than the white tea.

In order to obtain the oolong tea , we must oxidise partially the tea leaves after plucking them from the plant. To do so, spread them over a tray at 24ºC and 90/95 % of controlled humidity for 1 to 4 hours, until they get a brown or dun colour, which indicates that the oxidation of the polyphenols has been accomplished.

This process will lead us to a tea with a subtle scent and a pleasant flavour. The caffeine content in the oolong tea is intermediate, positioning itself between the green and the black tea.

If we continue with the oxidation process of the leaves, about 6 to 10 hours at 24ºC and 90/95% of humidity, until they get a dark colouring even blackish, we will obtain  Black Tea . The complete oxidation of the polyphenols will provide us a sturdy tea, full of character, with an intense flavour and a high caffeine content.

To achieve a  Red Tea , after its complete oxidation, it must be placed in wooden barrels to ferment thanks to the action of bacterial microorganisms. This is a strong and powerful tea, with slightly bitter notes and a high caffeine content.

These teas can be consumed both pure or mixed, adding aromas to our infusion through the introduction of essential oils, flowers (jasmine, rose petals, lavender, etc.) or even fruits (berries, citrus peels, etc.) to be able to enjoy new sensations and experiences.

Benefits

White ea

  • White tea is the tea with the greatest amount of antioxidants, that is why it is very efficient when it comes to delaying cellular aging and it is known as the anti-aging tea.
  • It helps to regulate the blood cholesterol level.
  • Anti-Inflammatory power.

Green tea

  • Stands out mostly because of its diuretic and thermogenic properties, especially recommended for liquid retention problems and fat elimination.
  • It can help reduce cardiovascular diseases.
  • Helps improve dental health.

Oolong tea

  • Strengthens the immune system.
  • Helps regulate the blood sugar levels.
  • Helps the digestive process.

Black tea

  • Energizing and stimulating tea, contributes to improve your mood.
  • Beneficial for skin and hair as it adds extra hydration.
  • High diuretic power, recommended in lose weight diets.

Red tea

  • Detoxifying and purifying.
  • Anti-allergic, antispasmodic and anti-bacterial effect.
  • Helps the digestion process and facilitates fat loss.