The Other Caffeine: An Introduction to Tea

Posted by Christopher McClure on

We’ve focused mainly on coffee on this blog (no surprise, giving that coffee is in our name), but in the world of warm caffeinated beverages, tea is important, especially since it’s still the world’s second most consumed beverage, second only to water. From the get go, Arabica has aimed to offer a good selection of teas in addition to top notch coffee, so for this post we’re going to do some tea education. Our goal is to help you make an informed decision the next time you feel like changing your caffeination routine.

"The experiments are telling me that we should get green tea"
"The experiments are telling me that we should get green tea"

The first question is, what is tea? The answer might be harder than one would first assume, though that’s mostly due to marketing (my marketing department is frowning at me #notallmarketing). Tea has become any number of different hot beverages—there are herbal teas, flower teas, bubble teas, twig teas and the list could go on. But if we go back to tea, just basic tea, it’s a plant—one species of plant, plain and simple. More specifically, tea is made from the leaves of Camelia Sinensis, a species of evergreen shrub native to Asia.

Coffee lovers will note many similarities between their preferred source of caffeine: both require very specific growing conditions, with better quality plants coming from higher elevations, both have preferable and more delicate varieties and more hardy, less flavorful varieties (Arabica coffee compared to Camelia Sinensis var. Sinensis and Robusta coffee compared to Camelia Sinensis var. Assamica). Both plants even have a long history of trade wars, involving spies, deception, thievery and other associated miscreancy (just think, countries would go to war over spices, just imagine what those same people would do for a jolt of caffeine in the morning?)

"You won't believe how far I've traveled for this cup of tea..."
"You won't believe how far I've traveled for this cup of tea..."

Obviously tea isn’t something that we just pluck right off of the tree and throw in the tea pot (if you’re even using a tea pot to brew), and like coffee, there are many different ways to process tea to get different flavors, even from the same crop. Also, like coffee, those different processes are often associated with different areas of the world that tea is grown, which also produce different flavors in tea. We’ll learn a little more about processing tea and where it comes from on our next posts in this series, so keep an eye out for them!


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