With an estimated 1000+ varieties, green tea is China’s most abundant and consumed. Sublime in texture and complexity, each is nuanced in its own way. Aficionados seeking perfection should look no further than green, whose tantalizing quarry never ever fails to satisfy yet remains beguiling like something just out of reach. The color comes from “fixing” or “killing the green.” A paradox, yes, but an age-old process that prevents oxidation and preserves color, not too mention those coveted health-promoting catechins. To fix is to heat, roll and dry fresh leaves, a time-honored practice steeped in the faithfulness of generations. The same leaves transformed into 1000 different teas. 1000 different sparks. Each magical yet real.
Don’t be fooled by white tea’s color for therein lies its allure. It’s the least processed of all teas, its leaves plucked then withered in the shade, preventing oxidation of chlorophyll, keeping color at bay. White tea is delicately handled, thus delicately flavored across each of its three profiles. The rarest and most revered is the Silver needle, composed purely of buds. Sister White Peony has a bud and two leaves and Shou Mei, contains primarily only leaves. Yet all three exude delicate fruity flavors reminiscent of melon or apricot or long-sought tranquility. It was, of course, the tea of the Emperor, the one plucked by virgins—and only virgins—donning white silk gloves. You can enjoy white tea at Platform T. Gloves optional.
When it comes to black tea, oxidation is the thing; the most important step. It’s the color-transforming thing that causes cellular structures to break down, enzymes to muddle. Antioxidant catechins are converted into antioxidant theaflavins, and voila, black tea dons shades in distinctive reddish-brown. Its texture? Smooth and malty. Sometimes black tea is finished with pine smoke, giving it a brilliant smoky taste, said to fancy the likes of Winston Churchill, who said black tea was his favorite. Legend also has it that oxidation of leaves preserved tea for long weary treks to faraway lands. Thankfully, today’s black tea is available within a few feet of your favorite chair, chaise lounge or front step. Somewhere near the curled up cat or dozing dog.
Nice, like that.
Did you hear the one about the mythical Chinese Emperor? He woke to find leaves in his pot of boiling water. More refreshed than rattled he delighted in his cup, and tea came to be. Technically, only infusions of the Carmelia Sinensis plant comprise tea. Everything else is herbal. And my how it’s caught on. For Ancient Egyptians it was rosewater. It’s revitalizing effect was neat, but it’s the amped sexual vigor that kept the hot water pouring. On the flip side is calming chamomile, the top selling medicinal herb in the U.S. The go-to for the stressed out. Platform T does herbal. And well. From our twist on classic yoga tea— plus stinging nettle for metabolic cleansing—to valerian root sleep time tea, we’ve got the goods. Come drink to your health.
Earl Grey tea is named for—you guessed it—former British Prime Minister Earl Grey. In the 1830s, a Chinese envoy gave some tea to Lord Grey as a gesture of appreciation for saving his son from drowning. After the Lord’s wife, Lady Grey, served it while entertaining, it gained fast renown among the political elite. The upper class. The big shots. The fancy pants.
Since then, the once-secret recipe for Earl Grey tea has been bought, sold and brewed with all sorts of elegant twists, some with the addition of untraditional ingredients like lavender (oh-la-la), rose (très chic) or other types of tea besides black (simply divine).
So if you’re feeling classy, why not get yourself an Earl Grey infusion?
So dreadfully posh.
The Boston Tea Party—1771. The American colonies. The British Parliament. Protest against taxation and subsequently, a harbor full of tea.
The First Opium War—mid-1800s. A woefully imbalanced trade market. Europeans importing too much tea. Chinese importing opium and then not. Gunship diplomacy and opium addictions by the millions.
People have waged war over tea for centuries. They’ve lied for it. Sacrificed for it. Stolen it. Destroyed it. And yes, even risked their lives for it. Because frankly, it’s worth it. Tea’s got the goods, and the goods are right here, at Platform T. You don’t have to fight for it; no bayonets or battlefields. We’ll just hand it to you. Just peace, love and tea.