Core, Earl L. Formerly, Department of Biology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Cook, A. A. Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
Nair, John H. Consultant to Food Industry, Raleigh, North Carolina.
- Tea production
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A small tree; a preparation of its leaves that have been dried and cured by various processes; and a beverage made from these leaves. The tea plant, Camellia sinensis (alternatively Thea sinensis), is an evergreen tree of the Theaceae family (order Ericales or Theales, depending on the classification system) and is native to southeastern Asia. In cultivation, the tree has a more shrublike appearance (Fig. 1), with a height of 3–4 ft (0.9–1.2 m), because of constant pruning. It grows best in a warm climate where the rainfall averages 90–200 in. (2250–5000 mm). The slower growth at higher altitudes improves the flavor. China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Vietnam are among the leading tea-producing countries, with China and India contributing more than one-half of the world's supply. According to Chinese folklore, the Chinese emperor Shen-Nung discovered the use of tea about 2500 BC. Tea leaves contain caffeine, various tannins, aromatic substances, and other materials of a minor nature, including proteins, gums, and sugars. The tannins provide the astringency, whereas the caffeine provides the stimulating properties. See also: Caffeine; Ericales; Horticultural crops; Theales
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