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    Tea leaves

    After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Likely to be originated in China as a medicinal drink, it was first introduced to Portuguese priests and merchants in China during the 16th century. Drinking tea became popular in Britain during the 17th century. The British introduced tea to India to compete with the Chinese monopoly. Studies suggest that green tea may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer, promote oral health, reduce blood pressure, help with weight control, increase bone mineral density and have anti-fibrotic properties.

    Tea may be consumed early in the day to heighten calm alertness. Tea ceremonies have arisen in different cultures, such as the Chinese and Japanese tea ceremonies, each of which employs traditional techniques and ritualised protocol of brewing and serving tea for enjoyment in a refined setting. Ireland is the largest consumer of tea, with an average of 4 cups of tea per person per day. In the United States and Canada, 80% of tea is consumed cold, as iced tea. Switzerland has its own unique blend of iced tea, made with the basic ingredients like black tea, sugar, lemon juice and mint, but a variety of Alp herbs are also added to the concoction. Apart from classic flavours like lemon and peach, exotic flavours like jasmine and lemongrass are also very popular.

    In India, tea is one of the most popular hot beverages. It is consumed daily in almost all homes, offered to guests, consumed in high amounts in domestic and official surroundings, and is made with the addition of milk with or without spices. It is also served with light snacks. More often than not, it is conseumed in "doses" of small cups, "cutting chai."

    The different types of tea includes -

    - Black Tea - Made from fermented leaves of tea plants.

    Chinese teas:
    - Keemun tea, Yunnan tea, Oolong Tea, Green Tea

    Indian teas:
    - Assam tea, Nilgiri tea, Masala tea, Badam tea - Made from semi-fermented leaves of tea plants

    - Genmaicha Tea
    - Yellow Tea
    - White Tea - Made from the early buds of tea plants. The are generally the rarest and most expensive of the regular teas. As a result of the short oxidation, white tea contains the most health benefits of any tea.

    - Pu-erh - Pu-erh tea comes from the Yunnan province in China, and has a distinct earthy aroma. This tea differs from other black tea because it grows a thin layer of mold on the leaves, which are harmless and known to have many health benefits.

    Flavored Teas include:
    - Earl Grey Tea - named after its inventor, Charles, Earl Grey. The flavouring of Earl Grey Tea comes from the Bergamot plant, which is a citrus grown plant in the Mediterranean.

    - Lapsang souchong tea - a tea of Chinese origin which is noted for its smoky taste.
    - English Breakfast tea
    - Irish Breakfast tea
    - Jasmine tea - Tea infused with Jasmine
    - Russian Caravan