History of Tea Time
legendary origin of tea
story of how the drinking of tea originated is interesting and has
merit. Accordingly, in 2737 B.C., Emperor Shen Nong, was visiting a
distant region of his realm and he and his court stopped to rest along
the roadside. The servants began to boil water, as required for hygienic
purposes, for all to drink. By chance, dried leaves from nearby were
said to have fallen into the boiling water, creating a brownish liquid.
When the emperor tasted it and found it to have an interesting,
refreshing flavor, they made more. According to the legend, this is the
beginning of tea drinking!
consumption spread throughout the Chinese culture reaching every aspect
of society. In 800 A.D. Lu Yu wrote the first definitive book on tea,
called the Cha Ching. He codified the various methods of tea cultivation
and preparation in ancient China. It was this form of tea service which
had been written about, and that Zen Buddhist missionaries later
introduced to imperial Japan.
Buddhist Priest Yeisei first brought tea seeds to Japan from China. He
had seen the value of the tea ceremony for use in enhancing religious
meditation. As a result, he is known as the Father of Tea in Japan. So,
tea received almost instant imperial sponsorship and its use spread
rapidly from the royal court and monasteries to all of Japanese society.
tea was elevated to an art form resulting in the creation of the
Japanese Tea Ceremony (the Cha-no-yu) or the hot water for tea.
Irish-Greek historian, Lafcadio Hearn wrote from personal observation:
The Tea Ceremony requires years of personal training and practice to
graduate in the art yet the whole of this art, as to detail, signifies
no more than the making and serving of a cup of tea. The supremely
important matter is that the act be performed in the most perfect, most
polite, most graceful, most charming manner possible.
pure form of expression prompted the development of tea houses, in which
the hostesses of Japan, the Geishi, began to specialize in The Tea
Ceremony. Soon nearly everyone became involved in the excitement of tea.
Tea makes its way
first European to personally encounter tea and write about it
was the Portuguese Jesuit Father Jasper de Cruz in 1560 A.D., in
his capacity as a missionary. After the introduction of tea into
Portugal, they shipped tea to Lisbon; and Dutch ships
transported it to France, Holland and the Baltic countries.
Because of the travel costs to ship,
at that time, tea cost over $100 per pound! This made it the
domain of the wealthy. But, by 1675 A. D., it was less expensive
and available in the food shops throughout Holland and France.
Tea drinking became part of the way of life. Dutch inns provided
the first restaurant service of tea. Tavern owners furnished hot
portable tea sets to their guests at their garden tables. Into
the 1700's France and Holland led Europe in the use of tea.
Arrives in England
first samples of tea reached England between 1652 and 1654, and it
became popular enough to replace ale as England's national drink. As in
Holland, it was the nobility that gave tea its stamp of approval. Both
King Charles ll and his wife, the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de
Braganza were both tea drinkers. And, although tea prices were kept
fairly high, tea mania swept through England just as it had the other
a matter of fact, prior to the introduction of tea into Britain,
breakfast and dinner were the two meals that were commonly served. But
it didn't take long before Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, adopted the
European tea service format and invited friends to join her in an
afternoon meal. The menu
centered around small cakes, sandwiches, assorted sweets and, of course,
tea. This practice proved so popular that soon she was sending friends
notes that invited them to her London home for Tea Time and a walk in
the fields. Likewise, this idea was copied by other hostesses and
serving tea became a common thread for almost all families in England.
Tea was made in a heated silver pot and brought to the guests and was
served in the finest porcelain from China. The food, which almost always
included most desired crumpets, wafer thin crust less sandwiches and
shrimp and fish pates, was also served on the fine china.
The tradition became most pleasant!
this time, two types of tea services emerged, which are called High and
Low. Low Tea was served in the homes of wealthy aristocrats and
consisted of simple gourmet tidbits rather than regular meals. At these
teas, the emphasis was on the presentation and conversation. For the
middle and lower classes, High Tea was considered the main meal of the
day and featured meats, vegetables and, naturally, tea.
from the Dutch tavern garden teas, the English enhanced the idea of Tea
Gardens. On private grounds, ladies and gentlemen took their tea
outdoors and were entertained by orchestras, flowered walkways, bowling
greens, concerts, games and other lavish elements. In public tea
gardens, women were allowed to mix freely for the first time without
social criticism; and British society and the middle classes also
gathered freely, thus cutting across lines of class and birth.
was not until 1690 A.D. that tea was available for sale in America. Tea
Gardens were first opened in New York City and were centered around
natural springs and later manmade springs. The most famous of these Tea
Springs was at Roosevelt and Chatham Streets, which later became Park
1720 A.D., tea was a special favourite of colonial women. Noteworthy,
the tea trade was based in Boston, New York and Philadelphia, which
became future centers of American rebellion because the imported British
tea was heavily taxed. Soon, contraband tea was smuggled into the
colonies from ports far away and herbal teas were used from the American
Indian. Tea companies fumed as they saw their profits diminish and they
pressured parliament to take action. In June, 1767, the tea tax was
introduced and ignited the flames of anger among the colonists. England
counted on the passion for tea among the women colonists to help subside
the rage, but it backfired. The women refused to buy English tea until
their rights and those of their merchant husbands were restored, and the
unjust taxes levied were brought into perspective. As events
deteriorated, the men of Boston, dressed as Indians gathered and threw
hundreds of pounds of British tea into the Boston Harbor. Hence, the
name Boston Tea Party! Later, America stabilized her government,
strengthened her borders and tea interests.
Invention of Iced Tea and Tea Bags
that the discovery of "iced tea" was aptly attributed
to an Englishman, and possible plantation
owner, named Richard Blechynden. This young, ingenious
tea merchant, presented various teas,
some from Calcutta and Ceylon--- the Far East tea
trade, at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, MO in the
U.S.A., and planned to give his selected samples of the hot
brew to all of the visitors. But, when the scorching heat
of the day caused disinterest in hot tea drinks, he dumped a load
of ice into the batch and inventively, produced the world's first
iced tea! Glory be to him and the "tea tradition" of
old England! This new love of tea in America and its numerous
ways to delight the "palate," prompted the production
of tea plantations in all of the American South.
years later, Thomas Sullivan of New York produced the first bagged tea.
As a tea merchant, he carefully wrapped each bag for consideration at
restaurants. He formulated the idea to help keep the kitchens tidy and
uncomplicated with brewing big batches of tea. His idea was
wonderfully, a success.
Rooms, Tea Courts and Tea Dances
in both America and England in the late l880's, fine hotels began to
offer tea service in Tea Rooms and Tea Courts. Victorian ladies and
their gentlemen would meet in the late afternoon for tea and
conversation. Many of these tea services became so well known that
certain hotels like The Ritz in Boston and The Plaza in New York were
noted for them, among other special services.
1910, other excellent hotels began to host Tea Dances in the afternoon,
as dancing in America and England became the craze. Here again this
highlighted the social aspect, it was a place where young men and women
Tea Today In America
is more popular than ever in America. Tea Rooms are springing up
everywhere. Fine hotels are once again promoting their new tea services;
and with Americans choosing a healthier lifestyle, the use of tea, be it
herbal, fine English or any of the others listed below is very much in
Teas for Morning, Afternoon and Evening
Breakfast Tea, a fine black tea, which often includes Keemun, is blended
with milk, and creates a bouquet that is reminiscent of hot toast from
the oven. Lemon may be offered if milk is not preferred, but the two are
never served together. It would curdle the milk in the tea. Irish
Breakfast Tea is considered great among tea drinkers, and the stronger
the better. It is usually used only in the morning because of its robust
flavor (except for the Irish, who are known to drink it all day). It is
served with lots of sugar and milk (never cream). Many say cream is too
heavy for tea, and the milk should be room temperature, as cold milk
cools down the tea too quickly. Caravan Tea is an excellent tea created
in imperial Russia. Its usually a blend of China and India Black Teas,
and like the Irish, is served with sugar and milk. Russians are fond of
very sweet tea, often adding jams or honey to theirs and lemons studded
with cloves is properly served. Earl Grey is best remembered for the tea
named after him. It is a smoky tea with a hint of sweetness and is
served plain. And, polls tell us that it is the second most popular tea
in the world today with its blend of black teas and bergamot oils.
Darjeeling Tea is a full-bodied tea grown in India that has a light
flavor that reminds one of Muscatel. It is most often used in the
afternoon and taken plain, although lemon may be offered---never milk.
Then there is Oolong Tea. This elegant tea is sometimes known as the
champagne of teas. Originally grown in China, it was imported to England
in 1869. Today the highest grade Oolongs are cultivated in Taiwan. It is
a cross between green and black teas and is fermented to achieve its
delicious fruity taste. Adding
anything to Oolong Tea is unthinkable! It is perfect for afternoon use
with light sandwiches and cakes. Green Tea, which is the tea used in the
Japanese Tea Service, is a strong herbal tea and is not commonly used
for afternoon gatherings. However, its use as a healthy tea is growing
in popularity. Lastly, Keemun Tea is the most famous of all Chinese
teas. It is considered the Burgundy of Teas because of its mellow,
wine-like quality. Sugar and milk may be used, but forgo the lemon, for
its combined taste would be too tart.
Now, that you
have a grand knowledge of The Tea Tradition and how it is still so
popular, why not plan to invite guests to a Tea Time of your own?
You will be so happy that you did!
| Contact Us | Tell a
Friend | Webmaster
part of this, or any page from our online internet site may be copied,
transmitted or distributed without the express written permission of the
© 2000 Victorian
Bazaar. All Rights Reserved.