When is tea not tea?

True teas as we know them, come from the tea bush known as Camellia sinensis, with some varieties in between. White tea, green tea, oolong tea, black tea and even dark/fermented tea come from that wondrous plant.

All other “teas”, be it ginger tea, chrysanthemum tea, rose tea, mint tea, vanilla tea and so on, are rightfully known as herbals or tisanes.

I found that lately I have to explain when people around me ask why those are not true teas. To them, as long as hot or boiling water is poured on to an edible part of a plant and a drink is made out of it, then it is considered as tea.

Admittedly, I used to drink a lot of tisanes and passed them off as tea drinking, not knowing the differences between ginger tea, chrysanthemum tea or chamomile tea. At one point, I drank a lot of jasmine-flavoured green tea (canned drinks). To me, they were all teas and I did not care. After I was introduced to loose leaf teas few years ago, it is so difficult for me to go back to tisanes and artificially flavoured teas now.

Tisanes are straightforward, in a way also dull, despite the wide array of flavours to be had. I only find it interesting if certain ingredients are blended with true teas, because the results could be delightful.

It is the true teas that I find complex and most fascinating. How is it that a single plant could produce so many types of tea? Hence why I am seriously studying about tea now, reading lots of books and materials on the tea plant. All aspects, including the chemical components of tea, are so very interesting. I have never thought I would be interested in chemistry, but now I do. I have never thought I would be interested in tea cultivation, but now I do.

I have tea-related plans. I am not studying tea for mere fun, but let’s just leave it at that for now.

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