Camellia Sinensis: This is botanical name of the tea plant. It is native to south and south-east Asia but is now cultivated globally. While there are an infinite number of possible hybrids, they are all derived from three main varieties: the Assamese, Chinese and Cambodian.
The Assamese variety (Camellia Sinensis Assamica) makes up the largest volume of tea and is mostly grown in the Assam region of Eastern India. It is native to north-east India, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Vietnam and south China. In the wild this single-stemmed tree can reach a height of anywhere between 6 and 20 metres but it is usually cultivated to be waist-height. The plant has an economic life of 40 years if maintained properly. It was ‘discovered’ in Assam by Robert and Charles Bruce in 1823 and is today grown on the majority of Indian tea estates.
The Chinese variety (Camellia Sinensis Sinensis) is a small-leaved bush with multiple stems and can reach a height of three metres. The Chinese plant is suited for cold winters and when grown at high altitude is produces a valuable flavour. It possesses a greater economic life than the Assamese variety, at least 100 years. It is native to south-east China and produces some of the most popular teas.
The Cambodian variety has a leaf size in between that of the Assam and Chinese varieties and is slightly taller than the Chinese plant. It is essentially a hybrid of the other two varieties and thus takes its flavour and quality from both, however it is not cultivated. Instead it has been naturally crossed with other varieties.
Oolong: A traditional Chinese tea which ranges from 10% - 70% oxidation; in between green and black. The taste of Oolong is slightly more like green tea than black, and is usually brewed to be strong; with bitterness that gives way to a sweet aftertaste. Oolong tea leaves are often processed and rolled into long curly leaves or into ball-like form (see picture). Oolong comes in either roasted or light varieties. While most oolongs can be consumed immediately postproduction; many Oolong can benefit from long aging with regular light roasting with a low charcoal fire. The process of roasting removes unwanted odours from the tea and reduces any sour or astringent tastes; in addition, the process is believed to make the oolong tea more gentle on the stomach.
Green Tea: Tea which has undergone minimal oxidisation during processing. It has traditionally been more popular in China, Korea, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Japan, Pakistan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Morocco, and the Middle East. Originally the tea imported into Europe was green or only semi-oxidised until black tea surpassed it in popularity during the 19th Century. Recently, however, it has become more widespread in the West due to purported health benefits.
Black Tea: Tea which has undergone the highest amount of oxidisation during processing; producing the darkest of the teas with the highest caffeine content. Whilst green tea usually loses its flavour within a year, black tea has long been an article of trade due to its ability to retain its flavour for several years as a finished product. Despite a resurgence in the popularity of green tea, black tea still accounts for over 90% of all tea sold in the West.
White Tea: White tea is made from new growth buds and young leaves of the tea plant. The oxidation process is halted immediately with flash heating. The tea retains a high concentration of catechins which are purported to reduce the risk of stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes. The tea is a speciality of the Chinese province of Fujian, and is classified into different grades according to standards of picking and selection.
Red Tea: Red tea is known by those in the west as black tea due to the dark colour of the tea leaves. In Asian cultures it is commonly known as red tea which describes the colour of the finished beverage.
Yellow Tea: Yellow tea is a special tea processed in a similar manner to green tea but with a slower drying phase. The tea is yellow-green in appearance and while it may smell somewhat different to white and green tee; similarities can be drawn in taste.
Fermentation: Fermentation refers to the processing of tea, transforming the picked tea leaves into the dry leaves for making tea. The types of processing the leaves go through produce the different varieties of tea. The general process involves picking, wilting, bruising (rolling), oxidation, kill-green, yellowing, shaping, drying and curing. These processes allow the leaves to take on the correct colour, made into the right shape and dried ready to make tea. The diagram displays the minor variations made to the process in order to produce the different types of finished product.
Oxidation: The process whereby chlorophyll in tea leaves starts to break down and tannins are released. The differing amount of oxidation different leaves undergo produces different colours and flavours of tea.
Rolling: In order to promote and quicken oxidation, tea leaves may be bruised by tumbling in baskets or by being kneaded or rolled-over by heavy wheels. This also releases some of the leaf juices, which may aid in oxidation and change the taste profile of the tea.
Drying: To finish the tea for sale, the leaves must be dried. This can be done in a myriad of ways including panning, sunning, air drying, or baking. However, baking is usually the most common. Great care must be taken to not over-cook the leaves.
CTC (Cut, Tear, Curl): When tea is intended for tea bags, the leaves are passed through a series of mincing machines known as “cut, tear, curl” as this is what happens to the leaf. The tea leaves are broken into small pieces which then work better than other leaves in tea bags, as they will infuse much more quickly.
East India Company: The first joint-stock company, which was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I on December 31 1600. The charter essentially gave the company a 21 year monopoly on all trade in the East Indies. The Company subsequently gained governmental and military functions in India and thus transformed from a purely commercial trading venture to one that virtually ruled India until the rebellion of 1857, which led to its dissolution in 1858.
Opium Wars: Otherwise known as the Anglo-Chinese Wars were two wars, the first fought from 1839 to 1842 and the second from 1856 to 1860. They were the result of a long held dispute between China and Britain. Britain was smuggling opium from British India in to China and the conflict arose when China attempted to enforce its laws against the trade. China lost both wars and was forced to tolerate the opium trade. In addition, they had to sign Unequal Treaties which opened several ports to foreign trade as well as yielding Hong Kong to Britain.
Boston Tea Party: The Boston Tea Party was an act of protest conducted by British colonists in response to the taxation of the colonies; despite not being represented in the Westminster Parliament back in England. On Thursday 16th December 1773 the Sons of Liberty, a secret organisation of American patriots who attacked the apparatus and symbols of British authority, headed away from the massive protest gathering and toward Griffin’s Wharf where the British ships Dartmouth, Beaver and Eleanour were berthed. They brought up casks of tea from the hold, opened the casks and dumped the tea overboard. By sunrise, 90,000 lbs of tea worth around £10,000 was in the waters of Boston Harbour, which washed up on the shores around Boston for weeks.
Tea Races: From 1850 onwards clipper ships built at the Aberdeen, Glasgow and Liverpool shipyards competed in the famous “Tea Race” in an effort to be the first to unload the new harvest of China tea after travelling 16,000 miles across the world.
Clippers: A very fast sailing ship of the 19th century. They were proportionally narrow for their length and thus limited in the freight carrying capacities, and relatively small by standards towards the end of the century. The main production came from British and American shipyards though France, the Netherlands and other nations did produce a number of them. Clippers sailed all across the world, most on trade routes between the United Kingdom and her eastern colonies, the trans-Atlantic trade and the New York to San Francisco route around Cape Horn during the California Gold Rush.
Monkey-picked: The term refers to the legend of Buddhist monks who trained monkeys to harvest the very youngest leaves from the top of wild tea trees. Currently the term refers to the highest quality of oolong tea, made from the youngest tea leaves which can be infused several times.
Assam: A north-eastern estate of India with its capital at Dispur. It is located south of the eastern Himalayas and comprises the Brahmaputra and the Barak river valleys, and the Karbi Anglong and the North Cachar Hills. It has an area of 30,285 square miles and currently is almost equivalent to the size of Ireland or Austria.
The region of Assam gave its name to the variety of tea plant grown there; the Assamese variety makes up the largest volume of tea produced. It is native to north-east India, Myanmar, Vietnam and south China. The Assam plant is kept down to just above waist level in tea estates, although in the wild it can reach a height of anywhere between 6 and 20 metres. The plant has an economic life of 40 years if maintained properly. It was discovered by non-locals in 1823 and is one of the two original tea plants. It produces malty, earthy drinks which are quite unlike those from its Chinese counterpart.
Earl Grey: A tea blend with a distinctive flavour and aroma which derives from the addition of oil extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a fragrant citrus fruit. The term “Earl Grey” was only applied to black tea but today the term is also applied to green and white teas that contain oil of bergamot.
The blend is named after the 2nd Earl Grey who was the British Prime Minister during the 1830s. He reputedly received a gift of tea flavoured with bergamot oil. There still exists a constant rivalry between Jacksons of Piccadilly and Twinings as to who produced and sold the first Earl Grey tea, despite now being owned by the same parent company.
Robert Fortune: A Scottish botanist and traveller; who is best known for introducing tea plants from China in to India. After a three year journey started in 1848 on the behest of the British East India Company, 20,000 tea plants were successfully introduced to India. Fortune’s efforts created the tea industries of India and ultimately ended China’s monopoly of the industry. He was also the first European to discover that different varieties of tea such as black tea and green tea were all produced from the same plant.
Jasmine: A genus of shrub and vines which are cultivated for their flowers, enjoyed in the garden, as house plants and as cut flowers. The flowers can be used to make tea, and some claim the daily consumption of Jasmine tea is effective in preventing certain cancers. Machines are used to make the tea absorb the fragrance and flavour of the Jasmine blossoms in a controlled temperature and humidity. The process may be repeated as many as seven times for the highest quality blends.
Camomile/Chamomile: German camomile is a plant of the sunflower family Asteraceae. It grows near populated areas over Europe and temperate Asia. The plant is used medicinally against sore stomach, irritable bowel syndrome and as a gentle sleep aid. Camomile can be taken as an herbal tea using the dried flower.
Fair Trade: An organized social movement which promotes appropriate standards for international labour, environmentalism and social policy in areas related to production of Fairtrade labelled and unlabelled goods. The movement’s focus is on exports from developing countries to developed countries. Fair trade intends to work with producers and workers who are usually marginalised and exploited for their labour and products in order to enable them to move to a position of economic self-sufficiency. Fair trade is controversial and has managed to draw criticism from opposite ends of the political spectrum. Some economists and conservative think tanks regard fair trade as nothing more than a type of subsidy which prevents growth and self-sufficiency, and some segments of the left criticize fair trade for not going far enough to challenge the existing trading system.
Estate: A plantation site dedicated to tea cultivation, usually situated away from pollution and other influences which could affect the quality of the tea. The estates can be extremely large, and are often harvested by hand. It organises the cultivation of the tea for maximum yield and allows for the mass production of tea.
Horse and Tea Commission: The administrative body during the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD) responsible for the tea and horse trade in China. There was an urgent need for horses in China due to the threat of nomad warriors of Inner Asia. China’s cavalry outnumbered its infantry and so horses with physical suitability for charging (strong and fast) were integral to the defence of China’s northern border. China had a monopoly on tea trading at this time and thus it was a closed and secret system of production which was important to the economy of the country.
Bengal: A historical and geographical region in the north-east of South Asia; mainly divided between the independent nation of Bangladesh and the Indian federal republic’s constitutive state of West Bengal. The region is one of the most densely populated regions on earth, with a population density exceeding 900/km². Most of the region lies in the low-lying Ganges-Brahmaputra River Delta or the Ganges Delta, the world’s largest delta. The Bengal region is notable for its contribution to the socio-cultural uplift of Indian society in the form of the Bengal Renaissance and revolutionary activities during the Indian independence movement.
Canton: The older name for Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province in the southern part of China. Towards the end of the 1600s, Guangzhou emerged as one of the most adaptable ports for negotiating commerce and soon many foreign ships were travelling there to procure cargos. The French and English British East India Company’s ships began to frequent the port in the 1690s after Portuguese, Spanish, Armenians and Muslims from India had already been actively trading; by the middle of the 18th century several other companies had also been trading there and Guangzhou has emerged as one of the greatest trading ports until the Opium Wars and the opening of other ports in China in 1842.
Jardine Matheson: A multinational corporation based in Bermuda. It was founded in Guangzhou (Canton) on 1st July 1832 after a meeting between William Jardine and another Scottish trader, James Matheson. The pair were the first to send private shipments of China tea to England, in 1834; as well as the major export of Chinese silk. In return, they illegally traded opium to the Chinese. The company’s early profits were largely due to this trade of Indian opium. The attempt by the Chinese emperor to ban this trade led to the two Opium Wars.
William Ewart Gladstone: (29 December 1809 - 19 May 1898). Gladstone was a British Liberal Party statesman who was also Prime Minister (1868–74, 1880–85, 1886 and 1892–94). He is noted for having an intense rivalry with the Conservative Party leader Benjamin Disraeli and constantly being at odds with Queen Victoria. Gladstone intended to improve individual liberty which was achieved through minimization of public expenditure allowing people to spend as they saw fit, and his foreign policy was aimed at promoting peace in an effort to reduce expenditures, taxation and to enhance trade.
Mincing Lane: A street in the City of London, which reaches from Fenchurch Street south to Great Tower Street. The name itself derives from Mynchen Lane, so called due to the tenements that Benedictine “mynchens” (nuns) held there. It was the world’s leading centre for tea and spice trading after the British East India Company took over all trading ports from the Dutch East India Company in 1799. Tea became a “free trade” commodity when the East India Company ceased to be a commercial enterprise in 1834. Tea auctions were often held in the London Commercial Salerooms on Mincing Lance, and tea merchants established offices in and around Mincing Lane which became known as the Street of Tea.
Lloyds of London: A British insurance market, which serves as a meeting place where financial backers, whether individuals or corporations come together to pool and spread risk. The market began in Edward Lloyd’s coffeehouse around 1688 in Tower Street, London. Lloyd was only the proprietor of the establishment, but it was a popular place for sailors, merchants and ship-owners to congregate and Lloyd provided them with reliable shipping news and a variety of services. The shipping community used the place to discuss insurance deals among themselves.
Samuel Pepys: /piːps/ (Peeps), (23rd February 1633 - 26th May 1703). A famous English naval administrator and Member of Parliament who is most well known for his diary. Pepys had no maritime experience, instead rising through patronage, hard work and a talent for administration to become the Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under King James II. Pepys kept an incredibly detailed private diary between 1660 and 1669 which was first published in the 19th century. It is one of the most important primary sources for the English Restoration period and provides a combination of personal revelation and eyewitness accounts of great events such as the Great Plague of London and the Great Fire of London.
Charles II: (29th May 1630 – 6th February 1985). The King of England, Scotland and Ireland, known as the Merrie Monarch. He was not proclaimed king immediately after his father’s death due to the country being in control of the puritan Parliament whose armies had defeated Charles I in the English Civil war. The country had been in the period known today as the English Interregnum. There was confusion as to the actual date that his reign began; the Parliament of Scotland declared Charles II King of Scots on 5th February 1649 in Edinburgh, and he was crowned at Scone on 1st January 1651. Charles subsequently lost the Battle of Worcester on 3rd September 1651; fled to the continent and spent the next nine years in exile, returning in 1660 and being crowned on 23rd April 1661.
Thomas Garraway: Garraway is inexorably linked to the appearance of tea in Great Britain; the first recorded instance of the commodity was an advertisement by Garraway for a tea auction, placed in a weekly newspaper in 1658.
William Pitt the Younger: (28th May 1759 – 23rd January 1806). A British politician of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He became the youngest Prime Minister in British History in 1783, a record which has not been beaten. His first term lasted until 1801 but he became Prime Minister again in 1804 until his death. He is known as “the Younger” in order to distinguish him from his father, William Pitt the Elder, who also served as Prime Minister. Pitt the Younger’s tenure was dominated by major European events which included the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Known as a Tory, Pitt saw himself as an “Independent Whig” (the Whigs would evolve in to the Liberal Party and subsequently in to the Liberal Democrats today).
Adulteration: The process of adding certain substances to other substances in order to either reduce manufacturing costs or to secretly dilute the product so as to gain more profit from it. Adulteration of many substances is often illegal. The Adulteration of Coffee Act 1718 is an act passed by the Parliament of Great Britain which made it illegal to debase coffee for profit or adulterate it with substances such as sheep fæces, which fertilizes the beans. A similar law was introduced when tea replaced coffee in fashion with the Adulteration of Tea Act of 1776.
Coffee House: Coffeehouses focus on providing coffee and tea in addition to light snacks. They share a resemblance to bars and restaurants, and in some countries the resemblance to restaurants is more greatly embellished by the addition of hot meals and possibly alcohol to the menu. Coffeehouses largely serve as centres of social interaction; it is an ideal venue to congregate or pass the time.
Apothecary: An historical name for a medical practitioner who formulates and dispenses medicine and paraphernalia to physicians, surgeons and patients, a role now associated with a pharmacist. The apothecary also offered general medical advice and a range of services now only provided by specialist practitioners, such as surgery or midwifery. They usually operated through a shop which would also sell tobacco and patented medicines.
Han Dynasty: The Han Dynasty followed the Qin Dynasty and preceded the Three Kingdoms in China. It was ruled by a prominent family; the Liu clan. The dynasty lasted for over 400 years and within China it is considered one of the greatest periods in Chinese history. The ethnic majority of China still refers to itself as the “People of the Han”. The Han Dynasty had impressive military capabilities and as the empire expanded west is gave rise to the caravan traffic across Central which became known as the “Silk Road” due to the export of Chinese silk along the route.
Porcelain: A ceramic material made by heating refined materials, often including clay to high temperatures. The raw materials which form porcelain make up a plastic body that can be worked into the desired shape before the object is fired in a kiln at temperatures between 1200 and 1400 Celsius. It is used to make table, kitchen, sanitary and decorative wares, objects of fine art and tiles. It can also be used as an insulating material in high voltage environments and in dentistry to make false teeth, caps and crowns.
Tea Bricks: Blocks of compressed tea made from whole or finely ground tea leaves. This form of tea was the most commonly produced in ancient China, though it is less common in modern times. Despite this it is possible to find many post-fermented teas in bricks and other pressed forms. The bricks can be made into beverages or eaten as food. They were also used as a past form of currency.
Lapsang Souchong: A black tea which originates from the Zheng Shan part of Mount Wuyi in the Fukian province of China. The tea leaves have been withered over pine or cedar fires, pan-fried, rolled and oxidized before being dried in baskets made of bamboo over burning pine. The tea is expensive if bought from the original source of Wuyi as it is a small area and there is an increasing interest in the tea.
Tang Dynasty: The Tang Dynasty followed the Sui Dynasty and lasted from 18th June 618 to 4th June 907. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and eventual collapse of the Sui Empire. The Tang Dynasty is regarded by historians as a high point in Chinese civilisation, equal to or greater than the Han Dynasty. It was a golden age of cosmopolitan culture with, a population of around 80 million people.
Zen Buddhism: A school of Mahāyāna Buddhism, emphasising practice and experiential wisdom - realised in the form of meditation known as “zazen”. It de-emphasizes both theoretical knowledge and study of religious texts in favour of direct individual experience of one’s own true nature. Zen as a distinct school of Buddhism was first documented in 7th century China and is thought to have developed as an amalgam of various currents in Mahāyāna Buddhist thought and of local traditions in China. Zen spread towards Vietnam and east towards Korea and Japan, and by the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Zen established a notable presence in North America and Europe.
Anti-oxidant: A molecule which is capable of slowing or preventing the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation reactions can produce molecules called free radicals, which can start chain reactions that damage cells. Antioxidants prevent these chain reactions by removing radical intermediates and inhibiting further oxidation reactions. Oxidation reactions are crucial for life however they can also be damaging, thus plants and animals maintain a complex system of multiple types of antioxidants. If the levels of these antioxidants become too low, oxidative stress can occur which may damage or kill cells; however excessive supplementation can also be harmful.
Caffeine: A psychoactive stimulant, the name of which comes from the French term for coffee: café. Caffeine is known by different names when found in different sources. In guarana, it is called guaranine, in mate it is called mateine and it is called theine when found in tea. In humans, caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant which has the effect of temporarily staving off drowsiness and restoring alertness. Caffeine is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive substance.
Theobromine: Also known as xantheose; theobromine is a bitter alkaloid (a kind of organic compound) of the cacao plant, and is therefore found in chocolate. It is in the same class of chemical compounds as caffeine and has a similar, but lesser effect.
Theophylline: Also known as dimethylxanthine, theophylline is used in drug therapy for respiratory diseases, although due to its numerous side effects, these drugs are now rarely used clinically. Trace quantities are found in tea.
Robert Bruce: A Scot who introduced the tea Plantations in Assam in the early 19th century. Bruce learned from a native noble man that the Stinghpo (a principal tribe in the Assam region) grew tea that was unknown to the rest of the world. Bruce realised the potential for Assam to rival Chinese tea, assuming the tea was of good quality. In 1823 he met with the chief of the Stinghpo, Bessa Gaum, and was allowed to take plants and seeds of the tea plant away with him. He died in 1824 but his efforts opened Assam’s doors to a huge industry.
Charles Bruce: Brigadier-General Charles Granville Bruce, CB, MVO (7th April 1866 – 12th July 1939) was a Himalayan veteran and leader of the second and third British expeditions to Mount Everest in 1922 and 1924.
Burma: The largest country by geographical area in mainland Southeast Asia, and officially known as the Union of Myanmar. It gained independence from the United Kingdom on 4th January 1948 as the “Union of Burma”, and on 18th June 1989 the State Law and Order Restoration Council adopted the name “Union of Myanmar”. Its political system is under the tight control of the State Peace and Development Council, the military government led by Senior General Than Shwe since 1992. The military has dominated government since a coup in 1962, and Burma continues to struggle to mend its ethic tensions.
Monopoly: Where a certain company, person or country has complete control of the trade of a certain commodity. For example, before the tea from the Assam region in India was cultivated, China provided the only source of tea and thus had complete control over the entire trade. Monopolies are generally frowned upon and in the business world are even legally discouraged due to the importance of competition to ensure fair prices and quality assurance.
Zhou Dynasty: This dynasty lasted from 1122 B.C.E. to 256 B.C.E. It lasted longer than any other in Chinese history. It was during this period that iron was introduced although this period was also responsible for what many consider the very best of Chinese bronze-ware making. Matured Chinese philosophy was developed during this period beginning in the 6th century B.C.E. It was during this period that Kong Fuzi (Confucius), founder of Confucianism and Laozi, the founder of Daoism lived.
Mongol: The Mongols were one or several ethnic groups largely located now in Mongolia, China and Russia. In a wide sense the Mongol peoples include all who speak a Mongolic language, and by the 13th century the term was an umbrella term for a large group of Mongolic and Turkic tribes under the rule of Genghis Khan. The origin of the Mongolic languages and associated tribes is not known.
Silk Route: An interconnected series of ancient trade routes through various regions of the Asian continent. It mainly connects Chang’an (Xi’an, today) in China with Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. It extends for over 5,000 miles (8,000 km) on land and sea. The trade on the Silk Route was a significant factor in the development of the great civilisations of China, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, the Indian subcontinent and Rome.
Bodhidharma: A Buddhist monk who is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Zen to China. There is very little biographical information on the monk from the time and accounts written later became embellished with legend. However, most accounts agree he was a South Indian monk who journey to southern China and relocated northwards sometime after that.
Genus: The first part of the name of an organism used in the formal naming of a species. An example which is perhaps familiar would be Homo sapiens, the name given to the human species. The genus is Homo, which is Latin for “man”.
Pu-erh: A type of tea made from a large leaf variety of the tea plant, and takes its name from Pu’er county near Simao Yunnan in China. Pu-erh is unusual in that unlike other teas, it can be aged for many years as well as drunk immediately. Connoisseurs are demonstrably willing to pay upwards of thousands of dollars per cake of compacted tea which has been aged for anywhere between 10 and 50 years.
Polyphenols: A type of antioxidant containing a structure of multiple phenols. The main source of polyphenol antioxidants is nutritional as they are found in a wide array of foods such as apples, blackberries, vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, onion, and green tea. The main benefit of ingesting antioxidants comes from the consumption of a wide variety of sources, thus the benefits if any of dietary supplements is a subject of intense discussion.
Lu Yu: (733 C.E. – 804 C.E.). Respected as the Sage of Tea for his contribution to Chinese tea culture. He is best known for his monumental book The Classic of Tea which was the first definitive work on cultivating, making and drinking tea, the result of 20 years research. Lu Yu was an abandoned child in a time of war, adopted at age 3 by the abbot of the Dragon Cloud Buddhist monastery. He did not want to be a monk and thus escaped the temple at the age of 13 spent years as a clown and a play writer for a group of travelling artistes. He settled down in 760 to investigate tea process and its history.
Husbandry: The practice of breeding and raising plants and livestock. It also concerns the application of science into husbandry programmes; aspects such as selective breeding, maximising optimal use of space and even genetic engineering.
Withering: Withering begins at plucking; where the leaf becomes flaccid and loses water. From a fresh moisture content of around 70% to 80% by weight it eventually arrives at a withered content of 55% to 70%, depending on the type of processing.
Firing: The method of drying or removing water in tea. Firing also halts the enzyme reaction which causes oxidation. There are various methods of firing; such as either pan firing, baset firing or oven drying.
Pekoe: A term used to describe the unopened terminal leaf bud or tip in tea flushes. “Orange Pekoe” is a term mainly used to describe a grade found in the grading system of the same name used for sorting black teas. The system is solely based upon the size of the processed and dried black tea leaves. The term “Orange Pekoe” is used in the tea industry to describe a basic medium grade black tea consisting of many single whole tea leaves of a specific size. Black teas of this grade are highly fragrant, and the taste is slightly bitter with a sweet aftertaste.
Dust/Fannings: A low-quality grade of fine grained black tea, traditionally treated as rejects of the manufacturing process in making high quality leaf tea. Broken or crushed leaves are labelled as Broken Orange Pekoe, Fannings and dust base on the particle size; the smaller the particle, the lower the quality. Despite its low quality, there is a huge demand for dust in the developing world in the last century as the practice of drinking tea became popular.
Ming: The ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644. The Dynasty was founded y Zhu Yuanzhang, which ruled over the Empire of the Great Ming (meaning “bright” or “brilliance” as China was then known). At its height the Ming Dynasty had a population of 160 million people.
Yunnan: Yunnan literally means “south of the clouds”, and is a province of the People’s Republic of China and is located in the far south-western corner of the country. It’s capital Kunming. Today it has a population of 43.33 million and has some of the largest mineral deposits in China.
Mughals: The Mughal Empire was an important imperial powering the Indian Subcontinent from the early 16th to the mid-19th centuries. At the height of its power, round 1700, it controlled most of the subcontinent parts of what is now Afghanistan with a territory of over 3 million square km and a population of between 100 and 150 million. The Mughal Empire declined rapidly after 1720, explained in a variety of ways: wars of succession, local revolts, religious intolerance and British colonialism.
Thomas Twining: (8th January 1735 - 6th August 1804). The son of Daniel Twining, tea merchant of London and an English classical scholar. He was originally intended for a commercial life, but he demonstrated a distaste for it along with a passion for study which led his father to send him to university, where he entered Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. Twining was an accomplished musician and assisted Charles Burney in his History of Music.
Junk: A Chinese sailing vessel; the English name comes from Javanese djong, meaning ‘ship’ or ‘large vessel’. Junks were originally developed during the Han Dynasty (220 B.C.E - 200 C.E.) and continued to evolve through subsequent dynasties to represent one of the most successful ship types in history.
Giambattista Ramusio: Giovanni Battista Ramusio, an Italian geographer was the most notorious member of the noble Italian family of Ramusio. He published the Delle navigationi e viaggi, a collection of travellers’ accounts and biographies, including the accounts of Marco Polo, Niccolò Da Conti and Magellan.
Catherine of Braganza: (25th November 1638 – 31st December 1705). A Portuguese Infanta (a daughter of the reigning monarch who was not the current heir to the throne) and the queen consort of Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland. She failed to become pregnant by Charles (he did manage to have children through several mistresses) though he treated Catherine with enormous respect and defended her from a lot of negative feelings from his mistresses or because of her Roman Catholic faith. Catherine introduced the custom of drinking tea in England.
Java: An island of Indonesia and the site of its capital city, Jakarta. It used to be the centre of powerful Hindu kingdoms and the core of the colonial Dutch East Indies. Presently, Java plays a dominant role in the economic and political life of Indonesia. It has a population of 124 million which makes it the most populous island in the world. Java produces Java coffee which has a very strong and sweet flavour. The word “Java” is slang for coffee in the United States of America.