Indian Tea Garden would like to share some general tea information and discussion.
Teaology? Indian Tea Garden
proposes that Tsaiology
is the proper term to indicate the study of tea. One aspect of the English language that is interesting is the fact that many of its words originate from different sources. Knowing a word's origin helps in understanding its meaning. Many words in English have a Latin or Greek origin but obviously not all of them have such a beginning, which brings me to the word 'tea'. Tea is an English word that originates from Chinese. Cha, or 'tay' as it is pronounced in the Fujian dialect, is the origin of the English word, tea.
A search in a number of different online reference sites provided information about the word 'tea'. A definition is easily found along with examples of 'tea' being used as a noun or an adjective. Attempting to locate a term that was more 'etymologically profound' in regards to 'tea' and in particular to one who is a 'tea lover', a 'tea drinker', or a 'tea connoisseur' produced no results.
As an example from another field; a 'wine connoisseur' is known as either an oenologist or an enologist, basically the same word with a slight spelling variation, and the study of and the science / subject of wine is oenology. (Not to make it confusing but I have also found viniculture and fermentology as synonyms for oenology.) Actually, the correct term for someone who is a 'wine lover' is oenophilist.
Likewise, a 'coin collector' is a numismatist and the study of and the science / subject of coin collecting is numistmatics or numismatology. Now unless you have a strong vocabulary, the meaning of either oenology or numismatology are not readily apparent, at least not to me. Yet a simple visit to a dictionary reveals not only the meaning of these words but also their origins. As previously mentioned, Greek and Latin are at work here.
Oenology - 'Oen' from the Greek word oinos for wine, and 'logy' from the Greek word logos for description. The study of, and the science or subject of wine.
Oenophilist - 'Oen' from the Greek word oinos for wine, and 'philist' from the Greek word philein for 'to love'. One who 'loves' wine, a wine connoisseur, a wine expert.
Numismatology - 'Numisma' from the Greek word nomisma for coin, money, and the Latin word numisma for coin, money. Again 'logy' from the Greek word logos for description. The study of, and the science or subject of coins.
To return to tea, I continued searching for a term for 'tea lover' or 'tea connoisseur' or 'tea description / science /study' but thus far have not found such a term. Further searching has revealed that a Latin word for tea does not exist, but there is a Greek word, tsai
Therefore, following the above examples explaining oenology and oenophilist, and numismatology, I propose three terms based on the Greek word for tea, tsai.
Tsaiology - 'Tsai' the Greek word for tea, and 'logy' from the Greek word logos for description. The study of, and the science or subject of tea.
Tsaiologist - 'Tsai' from the Greek word for tea, and 'philist' from the Greek word philein for 'to love'. One who studies tea and all things related to tea.
Tsaiophilist - 'Tsai' from the Greek word for tea, and 'philist' from the Greek word philein for 'to love'. One who is a tea connoisseur, a 'tea lover', a tea drinker.
Aware of 'official' terms, phrases or words relating to tea? Please email Indian Tea Garden
. Otherwise, please feel free to use Tsaiology, Tsaiologist, and Tsaiophilist.
This is the only plant from which tea is produced. All other beverages that are loosely referred to as 'tea', i. e. 'herbal teas', are really herbal infusions or decoctions.
One exception that I am aware of is a particular Japanese tea, Ku-Ki cha. This tea has the 'nickname' of 'twig tea', which is exactly what it looks like. Even after infusing this tea it still looks like short little twigs. There does not appear to be any leaves though there are some particles that could be finely broken pieces of tea leaves? Even so, the 'twigs' are the main component. This renders a very nice beverage that is on the mild side but has an earthiness to it somewhat like the Chinese Puerh tea.
It has been estimated that there are approximately 2000 varieties of the tea plant. Though the tea plant has flowers (and even a nut-like fruit), and is related to the flowering garden variety of Camellia, the flowers are not used in making tea. All real tea is made from the leaf bud and leaves of the magnolia-related evergreen tea plant, Camellia sinensis
, of the family Theaceae. It has also been referred to
as, Thea sinensis
and Camellia thea
. The 1883 publication, The Middle Kingdom
, by S.Wells Williams refers to the tea plant as Thea viridis
There are three related varieties of this plant, the small leaved Chinese tea plant, C. sinensis sinensis
, the larger leaved, more tree-like Indian Assam plant, C. sinensis assamica
, and another tree like plant from Cambodia, C. sinensis assamica subspecies lasiocalyx
. Hybrids are also grown, with the Cambodian plant used mainly for hybrid production.
There is one additional bit of information concerning the tea plant species. Recently, I came across 'Dong Quai' tea under an herbal tea category. Normally I would not even mention an herbal 'tea' under the topic of Camellia sinensis, but 'Dong Quai' is referred to as Angelica sinensis
.?! This is the first time that I have encountered this plant name. Thus far I have no other information to share, but I will post it here if and when I find some.
The two major varities of tea plants are the smaller-leafed Chinese variety, and Camellia assamica, the larger-leafed Indian variety. These are commonly referred to using a Hindi word, jat, menaing type. So there is the China jat and the Indian jat. When the British governed India, they introduced the China jat with plans of producing their own tea. Initially they were not aware that a natural native tea plant, the Assam tea plant, was already growing in India. This introduction of the Chinese tea plant proved successful and also resulted in hybrid tea plants being produced as a cross between the China jat and the Assam or Indian jat.
The tea plant will grow in its natural state to a height of 15 to 30 feet. Cultivated plants are pruned and plucked into a bush that is only 2 to 5 feet tall in comparison. This smaller size not only makes plucking and gathering of the leaves easier, but pruning stimulates the plant to produce more young leaves. Tea plants produce a "flush" of a full complement of leaves about every forty days and the gathering of a flush is called a crop. Therefore, the tea plant provides multiple flushes or crops during the growing season.
The serrated leaves that are lanceolate to oblong lanceolate (narrow and tapering) in shape and rather dull green in color. The leaves of the sinensis variety vary from 2 to 5 inches in length and the assamica variety can grow up to 8 to 9 inches in length. 0.5 to 4 inches is the variation in width of the leaves for the two plant varieties. Mature leaves are rather thick, smooth, and leathery, and are borne on a short petiole (leafstalk) and arranged alternately on the stem.
The fragrant flowers, which occur singly or in groups of two or three, are located in the axils (angle between the upper side of the petiole and the supporting stem) of the leaves. They consist of five white petals surrounding a group of yellow stamens. The fruit consists of one to three hard-shelled, dark brown nuts. The appearance of these nuts resemble hazelnuts.
A contemporary view of the significance of tea in Taiwan;
"The custom of tea drinking has become part of a sophisticated spiritual life; and the "tea art" spirit, which reveres nature and knows no bounds, is just like Chinese interpersonal relationships: warm and mellow."
This same sense of the "tea art" spirit can be traced back to ninth century Kyoto, Japan as related in The Way of Tea
"However, a few poets of the time (ninth century) speak differently, and in their work we sense the beginnings of the "tea spirit."
In the old cave Spring comes
And I am looking at the azure bay,
While steam rises from the boiling tea,
The evening deepens, and the air is a quiet cloud."
In All The Tea in China
, another reference to the
'spirit of tea' is made in regards to Chinese YiXing tea pots.
"With starkly simple lines that brought out the beauty of the material, or with a minimum of tasteful decoration, the pots made a statement on what their users regarded as the spirit of tea."