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plant ( Camellia sinensis, Thea sinensis, or C. thea ) is an evergreen related to the camellia and indigenous to Assam (India) and probably to parts of China and Japan. In its native state, it grows to a height of about 30 ft (9.1 m), but in cultivation it is pruned to 3-5 ft (91-152 cm). The lanceolate leaves are dark green; the blossom is cream-colored and fragrant. Today tea is consumed by more people and in greater quantity than any beverage except water. Coffee is a close third. The flavor of tea is due to volatile oils, its stimulating properties to caffeine , and its astringency to the tannin content (reduced in black teas by the fermentation process). In all parts of the world, tealike beverages (sometimes called tisanes) are made from the leaves or flowers of a wide variety of other plants, often for their medicinal properties.

American Tea Culture
American Tea Culture refers to the methods of preparation and means of consumption of tea in the United States.

is likewise more common in colder weather. Any confusion when one is visiting different parts of the country can easily be solved by explicitly asking for either "hot tea" or "iced tea."

U.S. regional tea traditions
Sweet tea, with sugar or corn syrup added (usually while the tea is still hot from brewing), the mixture then being cooled with ice, is ubiquitous in the core Southern United States. In these states, when a person says "tea", he or she normally means sweetened iced tea. The unsweetened variant is often called "unsweet" tea instead of unsweetened or plain. The consumption of sweet tea with many meals leads to it sometimes called the "table wine of the South" and this trait is considered an important marker of the culture of the Southern United States. Southern sweet tea is made by brewing tea at double strength, adding a large amount of sugar to the freshly-brewed hot tea, and diluting to the proper strength. It is served over a glass full of ice cubes and is often garnished with a slice of lemon. While corn syrup is commonly used as a sweetener for commercially manufactured tea, purists detest the use of anything other than refined sugar.

In the Northern United States, "tea" generally means the hot beverage.

In Texas and much of the Western United States, iced tea almost always means freshly-brewed unsweetened tea, generally served in a tall glass and garnished with a lemon wedge. Sweeteners are then added by the customer (or not) according to taste. Free refills are standard in most restaurants.

Sun tea is frequently brewed in temperate areas by placing tea and water together in a glass jar left outdoors in direct sunlight. Steeping times are necessarily long. Tea may also be brewed with no heat at all by simply immersing the tea bags or infuser in room-temperature water and allowing a period of several hours (typically overnight) for steeping. Since sun brewing occurs in a temperature range that promotes the development of bacteria, particularly Alcaligenes viscolactis, the Centers for Disease Control and the National Tea Association suggest brewing sun tea in the refrigerator, and discarding it after 24 hours.

Iced tea
Iced tea is usually prepared from bagged tea. In addition to tea bags and loose tea, powdered "instant iced tea mix" is available in stores. This is made by preparing tea and then dehydrating it, similar to instant coffee. Iced tea can be purchased, like soda, in canned or bottled form at vending machines and convenience stores; usually, this pre-made tea is sweetened with corn syrup, and sometimes some other flavoring, such as lemon or raspberry, is added. Also, like other soft drinks, it can be purchased as a fountain drink, though in some establishments it is pumped from a Bag-In-Box, and in others, from a separate container near the fountain that contains freshly brewed tea.

In restaurants, iced tea is usually served unsweetened except in the Southern United States where iced tea is much more common and is available both sweet and unsweetened and "iced tea" is often considered to be "sweet tea" unless otherwise specified. The reason for the presweetening is that it may be difficult to dissolve sugar in iced tea, even with constant stirring. The result can be insufficiently sweetened tea and/or gritty, undissolved sugar crystals in the tea. Some restaurants have begun serving iced tea that has been pre-flavored with fruit essences, particularly passion fruit, often as the only iced tea made available.

Iced tea's popularity in the United States has led to an addition to standard flatware sets; the iced tea spoon is a standard flatware teaspoon, but with a long handle, suitable for stirring sugar into the taller glasses commonly used for iced tea.

Tea Facts
Tea is high in caffeine.
Tea was cultivated in China in prehistoric times and was probably first used as a vegetable relish (as it was in American colonies and still is in some parts of Asia) and medicinally. By the 8th cent., cultivation had begun on a commercial scale in China, and shortly thereafter, in Japan. The tea ceremony of Japan was introduced from China in the 15th cent. by Buddhists as a semireligious social custom. Tea was first imported into Europe by the Dutch East India Company in the early 17th cent., and its subsequent popularity played an important role in the opening of Asia to Western commerce.

Until 1834 the British East India Company held a monopoly on imports to Great Britain, trading by direct and indirect routes exclusively with China. Only after this monopoly was broken did other tea-producing areas develop as major exporters—chiefly India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Japan, and Taiwan. Leading importers of tea include the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Russia, and the Netherlands. The United States also is a large importer, although coffee has long been a more popular beverage.

Alcoholic "tea"
The so-called Long Island Iced Tea usually contains no tea; it is an alcoholic cocktail that looks like and (if made correctly) tastes similar to iced tea. A variant recipe uses actual iced tea as a mixer.

A lesser known (at least in the United States) alcoholic tea called "Green Dragon Tea" is the result of steeping marijuana in alcohol for a period of time. An adequately high proof alcohol (at least 80 proof) is required to sufficiently leech the THC from the marijuana leaves, buds, and stems. The tea is very intoxicating resulting from both the high THC content and the high proof alcohol.

Chinese tea
consists of tea leaves which have been processed using methods inherited from China. According to popular legend, tea was discovered by Chinese Emperor Shennong in 2737 BCE when a leaf from a Camellia sinensis tree fell into water the emperor was boiling. Tea is deeply woven into the history and culture of China. The beverage is considered one of the seven necessities of Chinese life, along with firewood, rice, oil, salt, sauce and vinegar.

produces and consumes more tea than any other country in the world, including the famous Assam tea and Darjeeling tea.

The cultivation and brewing of tea in India has a long history of applications in traditional systems of medicine and for consumption. The consumption of tea in India was first clearly documented in the Ramayana (750-500 BC). For the next 1000 years, documentation of tea in India was lost in history. Records re-emerge during the first century AD, with stories of the Buddhist monks Bodhidharma and Gan Lu, and their involvement with tea. Research shows that tea is indigenous to eastern and northern India, and was cultivated and consumed there for thousands of years. Commercial production of tea in India did not begin until the arrival of the British East India Company, at which point large tracts of land were converted for mass tea production.

Today, India is one of the largest tea producers in the world, though over 70% of the tea is consumed within India itself. A number of renown teas, such as Darjeeling, also grow exclusively in India. The Indian tea industry has grown to own many global tea brands, and has evolved to one of the most technologically equipped tea industries in the world. Tea production, certification, exportation, and all other facets of the tea trade in India is controlled by the Tea Board of India. wikipedia

See also:
Cookin with coffee / National Coffee Holidays  /Coffee Cake Recipes  / Types of Tea 
Canapé / Hors d'oeuvres / Tea Sandwich  / Types of Sandwiches / Afternoon tea / Tea Tea party / High Tea  / Cream Tea / National Hot Tea Month /Chocolate Tea Time
Cream Recipes /Tea Time /Party Planning /Types of Parties /Healing Herbal Tea
What is Matcha /Tea Eggs /

Resource Links:
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses some material from Wikipedia/article American_tea_culture©/and other related pages.
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Definitions of TEA:  Tea- comes from a plant. -tree or bush, its leaves, and the beverage made from these leaves. The
Afternoon tea, as a meal, is rarely served in the United States except in ritualized special occasions such as the Tea party or an afternoon out at a high-end hotel or restaurant, which may also have Cream Tea on the menu. In the U.S. south, tea can be served at all meals and throughout the day as an alternate to other beverages. In the United States, about 80% of the tea consumed is served cold, or iced. Iced tea is more frequently consumed during periods of hot weather or in lower latitudes, and hot tea