( Originally Published 1926 )
408 Q. How does tea grow?
A. The tea plant is an evergreen bush, growing about four feet high, its growth being limited by frequent prunings.
409 Q. How many kinds of tea are there?
A. Three kinds: (1) Green, or Unfermented; (2) Black, or Fermented; (3) Oolong, or Semi-Fermented. All of these teas Tea Branches can be produced from leaves picked from the same bush.
410 Q. How is green tea produced?
A. Just as soon as the leaves are picked, they are steamed to make them soft and pliable, then they are rolled and "fired" in pans or baskets over a charcoal fire or dried in automatic drying machines. The leaves retain their natural green color through the entire process.
411 Q. How are black teas produced?
A. Black teas are produced by a process of fermentation, which is brought about by spreading the green leaves on trays made of canvas saturated with water. These trays are piled in a hot room for three or four hours. The evapora the water causes the leaves to change from a natural green to a copper color. The leaves are then rolled and fired at a high temperature, which turns them black.
412 Q. How are Oolong teas produced?
A. Oolong teas are semi-fermented teas and are produced on the Island of Formosa, just off the coast of China. They are produced in the same way as the black tea, except that they are fired when the leaves are only about half fermented.
413 Q. How many varieties of green teas are there?
A. There are two main divisions : Japan Green teas and China Green teas. Japan produces Basket-Fired Green teas and Pan-Fired Green teas. The green teas produced in China are Gunpowder, Imperials, and Young Hysons.
414 Q. Why are all of the Japan teas green?
A. Black teas are not made in Japan because on account of climatic conditions the teas that grow there do not lend themselves kindly to fermentation.
415 Q. What is the difference between Basket-Fired and Pan-Fired Japan teas?
A. Basket-Fired tea is made from long leaves, fired in wicker baskets over charcoal fires. The leaves are placed in the baskets about eight inches deep and are turned by hand in order to prevent as much as possible the breaking up of the leaves.
Pan-Fired teas are made from smaller sized leaves, fired in pans, and turned over by machinery.
416 Q. Is there any difference in the drinking qualities of Basket-Fired and Pan-Fired Japan green teas?
A. No. The difference between these two varieties of Japan teas lies in their appearance.
417 Q. How many crops of Japan teas are there?
A. Three crops. The first crop is picked during the last week of April and the first ten days of May. The second crop is picked during the last two weeks of May. The third crop is picked during June and July. The first crop is of the highest grade.
418 Q. What is the difference between Gunpowder, Imperial, and Young Hyson teas?
A. These. three are practically the same tea, the difference being only in the shape of the leaves. After the leaves are rolled they are run through sieves of different sized meshes. The small round rolls are Gunpowder; the large round rolls are Imperial; the long rolls are Young Hyson.
419 Q. What are the meanings of the tea terms Imperial, Young Hyson, Congou, and Oolong?
A. The Imperial tea derives its name from the fact that it is similar in appearance to the _specially prepared tea used by the Imperial Chinese households of the past and also by the wealthier class of people in China. (As the real Imperial tea is produced in very limited quantities, it is practically never exported.)
The term Young Hyson is a corruption of the Chinese words "Yu-he-Tsien," meaning "early spring," from the fact that the tea is picked early in the season.
The term Congou is a corruption of the Chinese words "Koong-Foo," meaning "Laborious," so called from the fact that this tea re-quires considerable more time and labor to pre-pare than are required in the preparation of other varieties.
The term Oolong is derived from the Chinese words "Ou-Loung," meaning "green dragon."
420 Q. How many varieties of Black teas are there?
A. There are two main varieties : Black teas produced in China and Black teas produced in India, in Ceylon, in Java, and in Sumatra.
The Black teas produced in China are called English Breakfast or Congou teas. Those produced in South China are superior in style but inferior in the cup to the teas produced in North China. The North China black teas are known as Keemungs and the South China black teas as Paklums.
The Black teas produced in India, in Ceylon, in Java, and in Sumatra come in leaves of three sizes: (1) Orange Pekoe; (2) Pekoe; and (3) Pekoe Souschoturg. The Orange Pekoe is the smallest leaf, picked at the tip of the branch. The Pekoe is the next in size, and the Pekoe Souschoung is the large, coarse leaf, known as Government Standard. The darker the leaf in the cup, the poorer the grade.
421 Q. What kind of tea is Darjeeling tea?
4. Darjeeling tea is the finest black tea produced in India. It grows in gardens located on the slopes of the Himalaya Mountains in the Darjeeling district, some 10,000 feet above the sea level. The high altitude at which, it is grown, the peculiar qualities of the soil in which it is grown, the exact methods of cultivation, the careful selection of the leaf, the scientific preparation, and the improved methods of packing, all contribute to make this the most desirable tea in the world.
422 Q. How do tea siftings compare in cup quality with regular tea?
A. As a rule, tea siftings are of better cup quality than the leaves from which they are screened, and would command a higher price if cup quality, and not appearance, were the main consideration. The finest cup quality is in the small, tender leaves and in the tips and edges of the larger ones. In the firing of the tea it is the smaller leaves and the tips and edges of the larger ones that become brittle first and break off before the rest of the leaf is thoroughly done. Then, in order to improve the appearance of the tea, much of the best part of the tea is screened out and sold as siftings at about half the price of the unbroken leaves.
423 Q. Since the tea bush is the same in all of the countries where it grows, why are there so many different kinds of teas and different qualities?
A. The different kinds and qualities of teas are due to differences. in the age of the leaves and time of plucking, differences in atmospheric influences during the growth, difference in soil, different processess of preparation after the leaves are picked, and to assorting, separating, and mixing the different sizes and qualities.
424 Q. Are there any artificially colored teas on the market?
A. It can be positively stated that no artificially colored teas come into this country. Samples from all shipments arriving at the various ports are carefully examined by ex-pert Government examiners, who see to it that no shipments of impure tea are admitted.
425 Q. What is the best way to make good tea?
A. Scald out a crockery tea-pot, and while it is still warm put in the tea. Pour on freshly boiled water that has been quickly brought to the boiling point. Allow the brew to stand from five to seven minutes—not longer. Then use.
If iced tea is desired, the tea should be poured off to cool at the end of the five or seven minutes. Never allow the tea to cool with the leaves in it.
426 Q. What variety or varieties of tea are best adapted for icing purposes?
A. As a rule, the Ceylon and India teas are the best for making iced tea. Some packers and wholesalers have special iced tea blends.