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Just hearing the words tea or coffee brings to mind a warm cup, great aroma, a feeling of invigoration, friends, conversations, HAPPINESS.
Tea was first cultivated in China as a therapeutic agent. The British brought it to India to break Chinese monopoly. On reaching Assam, they realized that it was growing wild in the forest. Cultivation started seriously in the 18th century, and the rest is history. Today, tea is the most consumed liquid after water on planet Earth. Indians consume black tea mainly, but green tea, infusions and tisanes are fast gaining popularity, owing to their health benefits. Green tea is prepared by pouring hot water over the leaves and letting them seep for a few minutes, but many of us prefer chai, well boiled with lots of milk, adrak, tulsi, cardamom and a number of other spice concoctions.
Tea leaves are harvested and processed according to the form they are sold in. There are 6 basic types of tea which are commonly used:
1. White: Wilted and unoxidized
2. Yellow: Unwilted and unoxidized, but allowed to yellow
3. Green: Unwilted and unoxidized
4. Oolong: Wilted, bruised, and partially oxidized
5. Black: Wilted, sometimes crushed, and fully oxidized (called 'red tea' in China)
6. Post-Fermented: Green tea that has been allowed to ferment/compost ('black tea' for the Chinese)
Coffee is brewed from coffee beans, and is native to Africa. Today, coffee is grown all over the world. Green coffee beans are the most traded agricultural commodity in the world. In India, coffee is grown in the hills of South India - Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The first coffee house opened in Calcutta after the battle of Plasey. Coffee is also popular in India today due to the large number of coffee shops sprouting up across the country. Like tea, Indian homes have a traditional way of making coffee with lots of milk. Filter coffee is popular in almost all South Indian homes.
Coffee beans are subject to various forms of processing according to their requirement. Coffee is usually of two varieties:
Nutritionally, Tea or Coffee does not have any major nutrient. They both contain caffeine. Black tea has about 22-28mg/1gm of caffeine and green tea about 11-20mg/1gm. Brewed coffee was found to contain 40mg/100gms of caffeine. Both tea and coffee are associated with alertness.
This aside, everyone agrees that "Tea Parties" have led to revolutions and "discussions over a cup of tea" have help reach consensus. After a long day, tea and coffee make for great conversations.
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