Until the Third Century AD, under the Han Dynasty (AD 206 -220) the Chinese drank tea as a medicinal tonic brew made from the freshly gathered leaves of the wild tea tree. For the next seven hundred or so years, the plucked leaves were steamed and then compressed into tightly packed cakes of different forms which could be easily stored or transported with minimum damage. To brew tea from these cakes, the brick or cake was roasted and then chopped or crushed and steeped or boiled in hot water. The infusion was then often flavoured with sweet onions, salt, ginger, orange peel, cloves, and mint.
The Tea Lovers Companion is a book by Jane Pettigrew (Author), Bruce Richardson (Author) also writes that tea is an international drink, both in terms of its origins and popularity, and has a colourful and fascinating story to tell. This handsomely illustrated reference is a guide to all the major varieties of tea – favourites such as Darjeeling, Assam, Earl Grey, as well as the more acquired tastes of Lapsang Souchong, Keemun and Nilgiri, and some beautiful and unusual, rarer teas.
The main part of the book is a directory of teas grouped by country of production and subdivided by region, then by tea type. There is a brief introduction to each tea-producing area, accompanied by a map showing the main tea-growing areas. The countries covered are China, Japan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Georgia, Kenya, and Malawi. Each individual tea is illustrated by close-up photography of the dry leaf, wet leaf, and infusion, with an accompanying description of characteristics and brewing tips to enjoy the variety at its best.
Source: Tealover’s Companion