Tea: Camellia Sinensis
Tea (Camellia sinensis) is the most consumed drink in the world after water. Ancient Chinese legend has it that tea was discovered by an Emperor who drank some hot water after some tea leaves had fallen into his cup. The history of tea goes back some 5000 years to ancient China. It is highly revered in many places throughout the world and many cultures have surrounded its consumption with elaborate etiquette such as the Japanese tea ceremony, and high tea in English speaking countries.
Tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant which is native to eastern Asia. It is a drink made by combining the dried leaves of the tea plant with hot water. The leaves are discarded and the resulting broth is consumed. There are many types of tea, differentiated by the production process. Most common are black tea, green tea, and oolong tea.
Like many spices and coffee, Tea is grown mainly in tropical mountainous regions, especially China, India, and Sri Lanka. Some teas are flavored, such as Darjeeling, and Earl Grey. Officially only products containing leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant should be called tea. Nevertheless, most brewed or steeped concoctions other than coffee are often referred to as tea, especially herbal teas.
The health benefits of tea are thought to be many. People who regularly consume tea tend to live longer healthier lives. This is likely due to the fact that tea contains anti-oxidants which help prevent break-down of the DNA and RNA within cells. On the downside, most teas contain caffeine which can cause restlessness during sleeping hours and even jitters in high doses.
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