Everything about Tea

Special climatic conditions and highly developed methods of tea cultivation. An evergreen plant of the Camellia family. Stories about the origins of tea. Chinese Tea Ceremony. Japanese Ceremony (Chaji). A brief history of chanoyu. Russian Tea Ceremonies.

Рубрика Кулинария и продукты питания
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Язык английский
Дата добавления 27.03.2013
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Oolong tea is allowed to undergo partial oxidation. These teas have a caffeine content between that of green teas and black teas. The flavor is typically not as robust as blacks or as subtle as greens, but has its own extremely fragrant and intriguing tones. It is often compared to the taste and aroma of fresh flowers or fresh fruit.

White teas are the most delicate of all teas. They are appreciated for their subtlety, complexity, and natural sweetness. They are hand processed using the youngest shoots of the tea plant, with no oxidation. When brewed correctly, with a very low temperature and a short steeping time, white teas can produce low amounts of caffeine.

Puerh is an aged black tea from China prized for its medicinal properties and earthy flavor. It is perhaps the most mysterious of all tea. Until 1995 it was illegal to import it into the U.S., and the process of its production is a closely guarded state secret in China. It is very strong with an incredibly deep and rich flavor, and no bitterness, and an element that could best be described as almost peaty in flavor.


Located in the North East of India at heights of 800 - 2,500 metres, Darjeeling produces the world's most delicate teas. The specific climate conditions of continuously changing cool breezes, intensive sun, long dry spells and monsoon rains slow down the growth of the plant. This means the plants have smaller leaves and there are smaller harvests but with the result of unique flowery teas.

Enjoy these great teas black with a little white or crystal sugar if preferred.


Tea has been grown in Nepal since 1920. There have been many failures as well as successes but now the area produces interesting orthodox teas that satisfy the growing demand for quality teas. UNESCO supports the tea growers on the slopes of the Himalayas to provide work for local people. The quantities harvested are still relatively small so there is little to export. Like Darjeeling, Nepalese teas are heavily influenced by geographic location and climatic conditions. The teas are aromatic and similar to Darjeeling.


Assam is located in the North East of India but the teas are completely different in character to Darjeeling. Assam is by far the largest connected tea growing area in the world and is to be found in the flatter areas both sides of the river Brahmaputra. The plants growing here - Assam Hybrids - create robust teas of exceptional quality with a touch of malt in their taste.

Trees growing amongst the tea plants give shade from the strong sun. Harvesting starts at the end of April and continues until the end of November. First flush lasts until the beginning of May and second flush until the beginning of July. Assam tea is suitable for even the hardest water and tastes best with a dash of milk or cream and brown crystal sugar if preferred.

tea ceremony cultivation origin


Officially named Sri Lanka since 1972, the tea from this Indian Ocean Island is still known as Ceylon. Sri Lanka is the world's largest exporter of black tea. The best, slightly `steely' tasting teas are grown around one of the islands highest mountains - Adam's Peak. The area includes three districts, UVA in the east, Dimbula in the west and Nuwara Eliya in between. Harvest times are determined by the monsoon rains. When it rains in the west, harvesting takes place in the UVA district. When the rains fall in the east, tea is harvested in Dimbula. Only in the centre of the island the typical aromatic, fruity Ceylon tea can be picked all year round. Ceylon is specialised in producing broken teas and a very few good quality leaf teas.

China - Black Tea

It is said that tea originated in China thousands of years ago. Today teas of exceptional quality make their way to our markets. Unlike most others, Chinese teas do not have estate names. Instead they have `standards'. These standards are maintained at very high levels by continuous blending. There are very many varieties of Chinese tea, both green and black. Keemun, a light tea with little caffeine is one of the best known Chinese black tea.

Flavoured Black Tea

Teas have been flavoured since 500 BC, originally in China by boiling tea with orange peel and spices. Later fresh chrysanthemums, rose and jasmine petals have been popular. Other well known flavourings are Bergamot oils in famous Earl Grey and mint in Arab teas. These days it is the Tea Tasters role to develop new and exciting flavours. These often include flower petals, peels, fruit pieces and fruit juices.

Oolong Semi-fermented

There are many ancient methods to produce an Oolong. Each Oolong has its own visual character and one thing is clear, because the production process has many facets and is extremely labour intensive, Oolong is very valuable. From a taste perspective, Oolong falls half-way between black and green tea. Oolong is produced by spreading the leaves out in the sun where they very slowly lose their moisture. Natural chemical reactions create the dream like flavour of Oolong leaves. Next, careful shaking of the leaves in special bamboo baskets breaks the leaf edges. Fermentation only takes place along the broken edges where the cell sap is released. Oolong connoisseurs call it green leaf with red edges. The final process is to break the leaves into large pieces thus creating Oolong's unique colour and flavour.

China - Green Tea

In China the preferred method to prevent fermentation is the so-called pan roasting technique. The withered tea leaves are placed in large iron pans or drums and heated to 280°C for about ten seconds.

Japan green tea

In Japan, hot steam is used to prevent fermentation and keep the tea leaves green. This is a blanching process where the tea is placed in large drums and steamed for at least two minutes.


Due to the long historical tradition, tea from Formosa is pan roasted like Chinese tea.

Flavoured Green Tea

The trend towards green tea has also led to a demand for flavoured green tea, since many varieties - when enjoyed on their own - take a little getting used to. It was the Chinese who were inspired a few thousand years ago to create rose and jasmine teas as well as traditional smoked teas. Japanese Sencha comes in many different varieties and its large whole leaves are particularly suitable for flavouring. There are varieties such as our Lotus Blossom, enriched with vitamins, or Morgentau (Morning Dew), Ronnefeldt's absolute hit - the tea won at the Great Taste Awards in 2004.

Fruit Infusions

The ingredients for Ronnefeldt fruit infusions come from plantations that organically cultivate their plants, from the selection of seed through to regular monitoring of growth. Wherever possible, the fruits of wild plants are used. Most of the flavouring these days is generated through fruit juice concentrates - a more natural method resulting in much better and more intense taste.

Herbal Infusions

With the trend to fitness and wellness there is a growing need for natural beverages to refresh both body and soul. Rooibos (red bush) grows in South Africa and its needle-like leaves are fermented like tea. Rooibos is a traditional drink containing calming tannin, healthy proteins, calcium and trace elements but little theine. Flavouring further refines its aromatic taste.


Another South African shrub, grows wild on the Cape. The fermented tea tastes as sweet as honey and it contains little tannin and no caffeine.


Tisanes or herbals are not actual 'teas' but are made of herbs and do not have the same health benefits as actual tea. However, they provide other benefits, from relaxation to stimulation, without caffeine. Plus, most pack a lot of flavor. They usually need to be infused longer than regular tea and it's a good idea to ask your doctor before taking any unfamiliar herbs

The other classificationof tea

Tea can be broken down in to 2 categories: non-herbal teas and herbal teas. Non-herbal tea can be further broken down into three basic categories: black, green and oolong. Black tea is the most popular, being consumed by over 90 percent of the tea consumed in U.S. Black tea has been fully oxidized or fermented and yields a hearty-flavored, amber brew. Some of the popular black teas include English Breakfast (a popular choice for breakfast due to its hearty flavor that mixes well with milk), Darjeeling (a blend of Himalayan teas with a flowery bouquet suited for lunch and snacks) and Orange Pekoe (a blend of Ceylon teas that is the most widely used of the tea blends).

All regular non-herbal teas contain varying amounts of antioxidants and caffeine.

While flavored teas evolve from these three basic teas, herbal teas contain no true tea leaves. Herbal and "medicinal" teas are created from the flowers, berries, peels, seeds, leaves and roots of many different plants. Detox herbal teas are special teas made from a blend of herbs with special detoxification and cleansing properties. These two do not contain any caffeine. They are best for our body.

In the Black category,there are two popular types, namely, CTC and Orthodox.


A machine, which takes its name from the first mechanised method used in the second stage of tea processing that rolls the withered leaves thus breaking the veins and releasing the leaf enzymes. Teas made by this method are known as Orthodox teas.


Cut, Tear and Curl describes a machine which literally cuts, tears and curls the withered leaf, breaking the leaf veins. This releases the juices or enzymes of the leaf and completes the second stage of manufacture. Today, CTC tea, or Unorthodox tea is applied to all types of manufacture other than Orthodox. It is used in the second stage of manufacture where the tea leaves are broken into particles before fermentation and drying.

Wulong tea

This represents a variety half way between the green and the black teas, being made after partial fermentation. It is a specialty from the provinces on China's southeast coast: Fujian, Guangdong and Taiwan.

Compressed tea

This is the kind of tea which is compressed and hardened into a certain shape. It is good for transport and storage and is mainly supplied to the ethnic minorities living in the border areas of the country. As compressed tea is black in color in its commercial form, so it is also known in China as "black tea". Most of the compressed tea is in the form of bricks; it is, therefore, generally called "brick tea", though it is sometimes also in the form of cakes and bowls. It is mainly produced in Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

Scented tea

This kind of tea is made by mixing fragrant flowers in the tea leaves in the course of processing. The flowers commonly used for this purpose are jasmine and magnolia among others. Jasmine tea is a well-known favorite with the northerners of China and with a growing number of foreigners.

History of tea

Circa 2700 B.C. Chinese Emperor Shen Nung discovers tea

Circa 725 B.C. T'ang Dynasty: Ch'a, tea in Chinese, becomes part of daily life

805 A.D. Dengo Daishi, Buddhist patron saint of Japanese Tea, introduces tea growing in Japan

1191 After centuries of neglect, the cultivation of tea in Japan is revived by the Buddhist Abbot Yesai, who subsequently published the first Japanese tea book.

1500 Ming Dynasty: in imitation of spouted wine earthenware, the first teapots were made at Yi-Xang, near Shanghai famous for its clays. Black, green and oolong tea become prevalent.

1610 Tea reaches Europe for the first time, carried by the Dutch from a trading station in Bantam, Java. They buy tea from Chinese merchants, who speak the Amoy dialect and therefore refer to the product as "Tea".

1623 The first annual public Japanese tea ritual, known as the "Tea Journey" is held.

1657 Garway's Coffee house in London holds the first public sale of tea. Garway's starts to advertise the "Vertues of the leaf tea".

1680 Madame de la Sabliere, wife of the French poet, introduces France to the custom of drinking tea with milk. Pouring the milk into the cup of hot tea cooled the tea slightly, making it less apt to break her cherished eggshell porcelain tea cups.

1773 On December 16, at the Boston Tea Party, American colonists dump the entire Boston consignment of the John Company's tea into the harbor in protest of the exorbitant tea tax.

1856 The first tea is planted in the Darjeeling District of Northern India.

1900 The last camel caravan carrying tea departs Peking for Russia. During the same year, the last link of the Trans-Siberian railroad is completed.

1904 Due to the unbearable heat, iced tea is invented at the St. Louis World's fair. Dr Shepard's South Carolina grown tea wins "Best in Show" medal.

1908 Mr. William Sullivan, tea merchant in New York, inadvertently invents the tea bag.

1925 Africa passes the million-pound mark in tea shipments. Brooke Bond begins buying land and planting tea in Kenya.

1958 Three Hundred years after China tea was first introduced to England, it is sold there for the first time by its Chinese producers.

Europe Learns of Tea

While tea was at this high level of development in both Japan and China, information concerning this then unknown beverage began to filter back to Europe. Earlier caravan leaders had mentioned it, but were unclear as to its service format or appearance. (One reference suggests the leaves be boiled, salted, buttered, and eaten!) The first European to personally encounter tea and write about it was the Portuguese Jesuit Father Jasper de Cruz in 1560. Portugal, with her technologically advanced navy, had been successful in gaining the first right of trade with China. It was as a missionary on that first commercial mission that Father de Cruz had tasted tea four years before.

The Portuguese developed a trade route by which they shipped their tea to Lisbon, and then Dutch ships transported it to France, Holland, and the Baltic countries. (At that time Holland was politically affiliated with Portugal. When this alliance was altered in 1602, Holland, with her excellent navy, entered into full Pacific trade in her own right.)

Tea Comes to Europe

When tea finally arrived in Europe, Elizabeth I had more years to live, and Rembrandt was only six years old. Because of the success of the Dutch navy in the Pacific, tea became very fashionable in the Dutch capital, the Hague. This was due in part to the high cost of the tea (over $100 per pound) which immediately made it the domain of the wealthy. Slowly, as the amount of tea imported increased, the price fell as the volume of sale expanded. Initially available to the public in apothecaries along with such rare and new spices as ginger and sugar, by 1675 it was available in common food shops throughout Holland.

As the consumption of tea increased dramatically in Dutch society, doctors and university authorities argued back and forth as to the negative and/or positive benefits of tea. Known as "tea heretics", the public largely ignored the scholarly debate and continued to enjoy their new beverage though the controversy lasted from 1635 to roughly 1657. Throughout this period France and Holland led Europe in the use of tea.

As the craze for things oriental swept Europe, tea became part of the way of life. The social critic Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, the Marquise de Seven makes the first mention in 1680 of adding milk to tea. During the same period, Dutch inns provided the first restaurant service of tea. Tavern owners would furnish guests with a portable tea set complete with a heating unit. The independent Dutchman would then prepare tea for himself and his friends outside in the tavern's garden. Tea remained popular in France for only about fifty years, being replaced by a stronger preference for wine, chocolate, and exotic coffees. n spite of its early discovery in Asia, tea was unknown to Europeans until the 16th century. The first western reference to tea was in a 1559 volume of travel literature entitled Voyages and Travels, compiled by Giambattaista Ramusio (Jonnes 1982: 101). It describes tea as a hot drink with medicinal qualities. In the 1560's, Father Gasper da Cruz mentions tea in a letter home to Portugal from China, and Father Louis Almeda does the same in a letter sent from Japan to Italy. In spite of these early reports of tea it was not brought to Europe until 1610. It was introduced to Britain by the Dutch and there is no record of its earliest entry into Tea was a rare luxury good and a social nicety for the rich. Served primarily to men, it was first called Cha, from the Cantonese slang for tea. The name changed later to Tay, or Tee, when the British trading post moved from Canton to Amoy, where the word for tea is T'e (Ukers 1935: 23).

In 1662 Catherine of Braganza of Portugal married Charles II and brought with her the preference for tea, which had already become common in Europe. As tea was her temperance drink of choice, it gained social acceptance among the aristocracy as she replaced wine, ale and spirits with tea as the court drink (Mintz 1985: 110).

In an attempt to please Charles II, the English East India Company brought small gifts of tea from Europe for Catherine in 1664 and 1666. Other than these gifts, the English East India company did not consider tea to be worth importing from China until 1668, and it was not considered a serious trading commodity for at least another nine years (Ukers 1935). In 1669 all imports from Holland were prohibited, including tea, granting the English East India Company a monopoly over this commodity.

First sold in apothecaries and a few coffeehouses, the acceptance of tea into British culture was relatively slow. In 1667 Thomas Garraway, the owner of a coffeehouse known as Garraway's, was one of the first to serve tea. According to Garraway's advertisements tea in Britain had only been used as a "regalia in high treatments." He advertised it as a medicinal drink, capable of curing almost anything, and charged Ј6 to Ј10 for a pound. His coffee house was a center for mercantile transactions, and he sold tea both by the pound, and prepared tea. Garraway's was not the only coffee house that served as more than simply a place to purchase, and drink, the new stimulant beverages.

Coffee houses were hubs of business and trade news, and patronized entirely by men. As coffee houses were places of sobriety and moderation, they were known as locales for discussions about literature, politics and art. One would go to a coffee house to read newspapers, hear the latest trade news, and to see friends. Most coffee houses had a distinct character and clientele, and every profession, trade and class had its coffee house of choice. By the 18th century, as coffee and tea began to enter the home, many of these coffee houses evolved into male only clubs. One of the better known coffee houses to evolve in this manner was established by Edward Lloyd in 1687. It later became the famous insurance company Lloyds of London (Twinings 1956: 7).

Coffee houses were so active in political discussion that the government felt threatened by them and made an attempt to abolish them. On December 29, 1675, Charles II issued a proclamation ordering that all coffee houses close permanently by January 10, 1676, as they were the "...resort of idle and disaffected persons" (Ukers 1935: 45). The outcry against this was so great he was forced to reverse his decision on January 8, and the coffee houses remained open (Ukers 1935: 45).

Catherine of Braganza's choice of tea was instrumental in the popularization of tea in Britain. Because tea was introduced primarily through male frequented coffee houses, there would have been far less social acceptability for women to drink this beverage had it not been for her example. Catherine of Braganza's use of tea as a court beverage, rather than a medicinal drink, influenced its popularity in literary circles around 1685. By 1686 tea was selling in markets, and the English East India Company considered it to be a part of their regular trade. It was no longer only a specialty item brought back by a ship's captain for personal use (Ukers 1935).

Until the 1700's, tea was a small part of Europe's trade with Asia. Prices were unstable until the 1710's, when direct regular trade between China and the East India companies created a situation in which larger quantities of tea were ordered because of an increased demand. In 1720, English Parliament prohibited the import of finished Asian textiles, with the goal of encouraging local textile manufacture. Until this time tea had been viewed as a secondary commodity, but now it was regarded with increasing interest, and it replaced silk as the primary Chinese export. Fortunately for the merchants who were forced to stop importing silk, tea drinking was gaining popularity in Britain.

Because of the increased tea trade a direct trade route was swiftly created between Canton and Britain, and tea prices stabilized (Smith 1992: 275). The market was flooded with green tea from China. Both tea and coffee were increasing in popularity during the beginning of the eighteenth century, but coffee became more difficult to import as demand for these two commodities grew.

Until the beginning of the eighteenth century, the only regions of the world supplying coffee were Arabia, New Guinea and Eritrea, a province in Ethiopia. All of these area were then free of European control, and incapable of increasing the amount of coffee produced. Although the Dutch attempted to grow coffee in other regions of the world, Arabian coffee remained the most popular. Coffee supply and prices were unstable, and rising demand pushed prices higher. Tea supply and prices stabilized earlier than coffee, so merchants preferred to deal in this commodity, and consequently advertised it more vigorously (Smith 1992: 275).

It has been suggested that tea gained popularity over chocolate and coffee in the late 1700's because it was more patriotic to drink tea, as it came from British colonies, whereas coffee came from the non-British Arabia, and chocolate from the Spanish and Portuguese controlled Americas (Smith 1992: 277). This was true during later years, but this theory neatly overlooks the historical fact that during the time in which tea actually supplanted coffee, both commodities were imported from politically independent nations; coffee came from Arabia, and tea was grown in China. It was not until the early nineteenth century that tea was grown in British colonies such as Java, India and Sri Lanka.

The amount of tea imported increased again in the first half of the eighteenth century. From 1650 to 1700, Britain imported about 181,500 lbs of tea. In the 1750's about 40 million lbs of tea were legally imported to Britain. However, as the smuggling trade was active in the eighteenth century, and it is very difficult to estimate how much tea was actually imported and consumed (Schivelbusch 1993). It is likely that as much tea was being smuggled in from Europe as was legally imported by the English East India Company. Sawdust, sand, and other floor sweepings were sometimes added to the tea by smugglers and traders to increase its volume despite legislation passed against the practice in 1725 (Drummond and Wilbraham 1939: 242). It is hard to imagine what this would have done to the quality of the taste of the tea, and how an infusion made of tea that was often mixed with these other "ingredients" could have become popular. It has been suggested that this adulteration of green tea made the public wary, so there was a change in preference to black teas. It is uncertain, however, why the demand for tea, green or black, increased so quickly during this time period, especially given the for questionable quality.

One reason tea became more popular than coffee lies in the nature of its preparation. Coffee grounds can only be used to make coffee once, as reusing grounds yields coffee with a far inferior taste. Tea leaves, however, can be used several times without a marked taste difference, although the resulting beverage is weaker than the original infusion. Until tea dropped in price in the middle of the nineteenth century, members of the working class in Britain bought second hand tea leaves from the bourgeoisie and let the tea steep longer to compensate. The amount of tea used can also be reduced, and a weak cup of tea is far more palatable than a weak cup of coffee. The price of tea per pound is always higher than that of coffee, but a smaller amount of tea is used per cup than coffee, making it more economical. (Drummond and Wilbraham 1939).

Chinese tea was imported until 1833. Due to increasing tensions between Britain and China, trade was restricted in 1831 when China only allowed foreign merchants contact with the Canton port. In 1834 all ports were closed to foreign vessels by an Imperial Edict from the Chinese Emperor until the end of the Britain-China war in 1842 (Ukers 1935: 77). The first tea from Java did not appear until 1835, and very little was produced in Java until a few decades later, so it is not clear where the British imported the bulk of their tea from between 1834 and 1842. The tea trade with India did not start around 1838. However, prices for this tea were very high and supply was not regular until the 1860's. In Sri Lanka (Ceylon) tea was not grown until the 1880's. Although tea drinking was common, consumption remained modest, at about three pounds per person a year, until the 1840's when consumption began to skyrocket. (Ukers 1935)

Clipper ships, first built in the early 1830's in the United States, provided the fastest means of transporting tea between China and the west. They became common in the early 1840's, in Britain when trade with China resumed. They could travel to China and back in the same amount of time an earlier ship sailed half the voyage. Tea Clippers were vital to the tea trade until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and were in operation until the end of the 1880's. During their heyday the Tea Clippers caught the attention of the public and there were many popular and well publicized races between ships, often with large prizes for the crew of the winning ship (Ukers 1935). The increase of tea on the British market due to the clipper ships aided in driving down the price of tea so members of the working class could afford it.

Blending teas began around 1870 when tea merchants such as Twinings began to blend different varieties of tea from differing regions to achieve a stable taste. Twining's English Breakfast Blend, for example, has tasted essentially the same for decades. Now the consumer was sure of exactly what flavor she or he was buying, and would be more likely to buy more once a favorite blend was discovered. A reduction of import duties lowered the price of tea, so buying more of the favored blend was economically easier than ever before. Tea prices plummeted with the introduction of black tea from Sri Lanka in the middle to late 1880's.

During the First World War there was a strong temperance movement and tea became a popular alternative to alcohol. By 1938 the per capita yearly tea consumption reached 9.11 pounds, and tea was firmly established in British culture.

Tea Comes to America

By 1650 the Dutch were actively involved in trade throughout the Western world. Peter Stuyvesant brought the first tea to America to the colonists in the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam (later re-named New York by the English). Settlers here were confirmed tea drinkers. And indeed, on acquiring the colony, the English found that the small settlement consumed more tea at that time then all of England put together.

Tea Arrives in England

Great Britain was the last of the three great sea-faring nations to break into the Chinese and East Indian trade routes. This was due in part to the unsteady ascension to the throne of the Stuarts and the Cromwellian Civil War. The first samples of tea reached England between 1652 and 1654. Tea quickly proved popular enough to replace ale as the national drink of England.

As in Holland, it was the nobility that provided the necessary stamp of approval and so insured its acceptance. King Charles II had married, while in exile, the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza (1662). Charles himself had grown up in the Dutch capital. As a result, both he and his Portuguese bride were confirmed tea drinkers. When the monarchy was re-established, the two rulers brought this foreign tea tradition to England with them. As early as 1600 Elizabeth I had founded the John company for the purpose of promoting Asian trade. When Catherine de Braganza married Charles she brought as part of her dowry the territories of Tangier and Bombay. Suddenly, the John Company had a base of operations.

The John Company

The John Company was granted the unbelievably wide monopoly of all trade east of the Cape of Good Hope and west of Cape Horn. Its powers were almost without limit and included among others the right to:

· Legally acquire territory and govern it.

· Coin money.

· Raise arms and build forts.

· Form foreign alliances.

· Declare war.

· Conclude peace.

· Pass laws.

· Try and punish law breakers.

It was the single largest, most powerful monopoly to ever exist in the world. And its power was based on the importation of tea.

At the same time, the newer East India Company floundered against such competition. Appealing to Parliament for relief, the decision was made to merge the John Company and the East India Company (1773). Their re-drafted charts gave the new East India Company a complete and total trade monopoly on all commerce in China and India. As a result, the price of tea was kept artificially high, leading to later global difficulties for the British crown.

Afternoon Tea in England

Tea mania swept across England as it had earlier spread throughout France and Holland. Tea importation rose from 40,000 pounds in 1699 to an annual average of 240,000 pounds by 1708. Tea was drunk by all levels of society.

Prior to the introduction of tea into Britain, the English had two main meals-breakfast and dinner. Breakfast was ale, bread and beef. Dinner was a long, massive meal at the end of the day. It was no wonder that Anna, the Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861) experienced a "sinking feeling" in the late afternoon. Adopting the European tea service format, she invited friends to join her for an additional afternoon meal at five o'clock in her rooms at Belvoir Castle. The menu centered around small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, assorted sweets, and, of course, tea. This summer practice proved so popular, the Duchess continued it when she returned to London, sending cards to her friends asking them to join her for "tea and a walking the fields." (London at that time still contained large open meadows within the city.) The practice of inviting friends to come for tea in the afternoon was quickly picked up by other social hostesses. A common pattern of service soon merged. The first pot of tea was made in the kitchen and carried to the lady of the house who waited with her invited guests, surrounded by fine porcelain from China. The first pot was warmed by the hostess from a second pot (usually silver) that was kept heated over a small flame. Food and tea was then passed among the guests, the main purpose of the visiting being conversation.

Duchess of Bedford is often credited with the invention of the tradition of afternoon tea in the early 1840's. Traditionally dinner was not served until 8:30 or 9:00 in the evening and the Duchess often became hungry, especially in the summer when dinner was served even later. She ordered a small meal of bread, butter, and other niceties, such as cakes, tarts, and biscuits, to be brought secretly to her boudoir. When she was exposed she was not ridiculed, as she had feared, but her habit caught on and the concept of a small meal, of niceties and perhaps tea, became popular and eventually known as "afternoon tea" (Ukers 1935). Obviously the origins of the well known British tradition of afternoon tea cannot be credited to only one woman, but evolved over a period of time, as many cultural customs do.

Women were first introduced to tea on a wide scale when Lyon's tea house opened and not only served women tea, but even hired stylish young women to serve it. This provided a place for women, accompanied by a male escort, to go and visit with one another in an acceptable atmosphere (Ukers 1935: 414). Women were also served tea in the London tea gardens of the early 1730's. Tea gardens were outdoor gardens with flowered walks and music for dancing. They opened in April or May and remained open throughout the summer until August or September. Tea was not the only beverage served, but was one of the most commonly drunk (Ukers 1935: 389). Unlike Lyon's tea house, tea gardens were not public places. One had to pay to get in, and the working class was not admitted.

In 1819 the Tea Dance became popular, and continued through World War II. Friends and acquaintances gathered between 5:00 and 6:30 pm, and table and chairs would be set up around a dance floor. Tea and snacks were served at the tables while others danced (Smith 1966). It was perhaps the Tea Dance, and not the Duchess of Bedford's afternoon snacks, that were the direct precursor to the tradition of afternoon tea, although the Duchess may have been one of the first to hold afternoon teas.

By the mid 1800's the most of the coffee houses had evolved into exclusive clubs, each geared towards a certain segment of the population. Women were allowed in tea shops and tea gardens, but only with a male companion. However, while the men were out in the clubs for the mid-day meal, or in the afternoons and early evenings, the women could not frequent any of the public establishments to visit with other women. As a result women invited other women to their homes.

Increasing industrialization and urbanization created changes in British culture. In the pre-industrial home, from 1700, when tea started to become more widely available, to 1815, three quarters of the population lived in a rural setting, and were farmers. Over the course of this period increasing numbers of people moved to urban areas to work and live. A middle class, or bourgeoisie, grew out of the new economic opportunities of industrialization. The bourgeoisie spent large amount of money on consumer goods such as tea. An increase in real wages for the working class enabled them to emulate the bourgeoisie as far as was economically feasible (Williams 1987: 162-164).

A stronger ideal of the family and the home was created by a revival of moral reform, paternal authority, and sexual repression. The bourgeois woman's identity became connected with the home and she was given the responsibility of creating a genteel atmosphere in which the man could feel in control. The issue of control was important in that the man's position in the public sphere was often changing and unstable as increasing industrialization changed the roles of production. Women were educated to create this home environment, and to not work outside the home. In spite of this ideal, however, many working class women had to work to support their families. Most worked in domestic service or the textile industry. The working woman was perceived as "contaminated and sickening," in opposition to the middle class woman who was pure, but sick, and the upper class woman who was weak and delicate (Williams 1987: 175). There is an obvious correlation to the amount of contact each class of woman had with the outside world, and how pure and ladylike they were considered to be. A lady was too delicate to go out into the world alone and, therefore, had to entertain and be entertained in the private sphere, or be escorted by a protective man.

The woman controlled the social life of the household. She arranged dinners, at homes, teas, and other social situations. Conversation parties imitating the French salon were also popular starting in around the 1750's (Stenton 1957: 270). All of these activities were centered on improving one's social standing in the community. The relationships of children were carefully controlled, especially in ensuring proper marriages.

When afternoon tea, and other new social activities of the middle and upper classes, developed is not clear, although in 1842, a well known actress named Fanny Kemble first heard of afternoon tea, and did not believe the custom had been practiced prior to that date (Ukers 1935: 405). By the middle of the nineteenth century, and Fanny Kemble's first afternoon tea, the complex set of rules and etiquette surrounding the social customs of women visiting each other for tea.

The at home tea was a common practice. After deciding on a day of the week to hold at home hours, and send announcements to friends, relatives, and acquaintances. On that particular day of the week one would remain at home all day and receive visitors. Some entertainment might be provided for the guests, but usually conversation, after the model of the French salon, was the primary entertainment. Tea and cakes, sandwiches, or other niceties were be served. If sent an at home notice it was expected that unless regrets were sent that all who received a notice would attend. There was at least one person holding an at home day on any given day, and social ties were established as women saw each other almost every day at different houses (Smith 1966: 12).

A system of codes was followed during this formal social interaction. There were three types of formal social visits. The first type was to wish congratulations or condolences on the hostess when appropriate. A card was left with the message, and the visitor may or may not have been received. The ceremonial visit was brief, and when another visitor was announced the ceremonial guest, usually an acquaintance whose visit would increase the social standing of one of the parties involved, would excuse themselves and retreat. The third type of visit was that of friendship. A friend would only visit during the appointed at home hours, but the rules of behavior were less strict. For example, the friend was not expected to leave if another guest arrived, as one of the functions of the tea was to socialize with a group of friends. (Smith 1966: 13-14).

When tea was served the hostess sat at one end of the table and supervised its pouring for her guests. The eldest daughter of the household, or the closest friend of the hostess, served coffee or chocolate if it was desired (Smith 1966: 76). It is interesting to note that the division of serving privileges is indicative of the varying importance of these three beverages at this time. Tea was a valuable commodity, and stored in locked tea caddies for which only the woman of the household held the key. In allowing the eldest daughter, or friend, to serve the other beverages, and reserving the privilege of serving of tea to only herself, she sets levels of social significance. This is an interesting parallel to the lord of the house serving the tea in China. In both cases it is the host with the most power who serves the tea, in spite of the gender differences. Men in nineteenth century Britain were higher on the public scale of social hierarchies, but the woman was in charge of the household, and creating the genteel atmosphere connected with formal social visits. As a result she was more powerful within the house than the man. Even when the British "lord" of the house was present it was the woman's responsibility to serve tea.

The hostess also adds the sugar and milk or lemon to the tea for the guest. These substances were common and inexpensive enough to serve often and to many guests. However, the cultural legacy from when both tea and sugar were rare and expensive luxury goods, created a situation in which the hostess desired, or was expected, to be in control of the amount consumed. When sugar and tea were first introduced only the aristocracy were able to possess them. They displayed their power and wealth by consuming these rare goods (Mintz 1985). Tea and sugar were more common by the 1800's, but as consumable luxuries they still suggested power and wealth. The upper classes wealthy enough to hire servants had them serve the tea and guests were allowed to add their own sugar, milk or lemon to the tea. By releasing control over tea and sugar the upper classes demonstrated their wealth and ability to buy as much of these commodities as desired. This asserted their social standing through the careless consumption of luxury goods.

Tea Cuisine

Tea cuisine quickly expanded in range to quickly include wafer thin crustless sandwiches, shrimp or fish pates, toasted breads with jams, and regional British pastries such as scones (Scottish) and crumpets (English).

At this time two distinct forms of tea services evolved: "High" and "Low". "Low" Tea (served in the low part of the afternoon) was served in aristocratic homes of the wealthy and featured gourmet tidbits rather than solid meals. The emphasis was on presentation and conversation. "High" Tea or "Meat Tea" was the main or "High" meal of the day. It was the major meal of the middle and lower classes and consisted of mostly full dinner items such as roast beef, mashed potatoes, peas, and of course, tea.

Coffee Houses

Tea was the major beverage served in the coffee houses, but they were so named because coffee arrived in England some years before tea. Exclusively for men, they were called "Penny Universities" because for a penny any man could obtain a pot of tea, a copy of the newspaper, and engage in conversation with the sharpest wits of the day. The various houses specialized in selected areas of interest, some serving attorneys, some authors, others the military. They were the forerunner of the English gentlemen's private club. One such beverage house was owned by Edward Lloyd and was favored by shipowners, merchants and marine insurers. That simple shop was the origin of Lloyd's, the worldwide insurance firm. Attempts to close the coffee houses were made throughout the eighteenth century because of the free speech they encouraged, but such measures proved so unpopular they were always quickly revoked.

Tea Gardens

Experiencing the Dutch "tavern garden teas", the English developed the idea of Tea Gardens. Here ladies and gentlemen took their tea out of doors surrounded by entertainment such as orchestras, hidden arbors, flowered walks, bowling greens, concerts, gambling, or fireworks at night. It was at just such a Tea Garden that Lord Nelson, who defeated Napoleon by sea, met the great love of his life, Emma, later Lady Hamilton. Women were permitted to enter a mixed, public gathering for the first time without social criticism. As the gardens were public, British society mixed here freely for the first time, cutting across lines of class and birth.

Tipping as a response to proper service developed in the Tea Gardens of England. Small, locked wooden boxes were placed on the tables throughout the Garden. Inscribed on each were the letters "T.I.P.S." which stood for the sentence "To Insure Prompt Service". If a guest wished the waiter to hurry (and so insure the tea arrived hot from the often distant kitchen) he dropped a coin into the box on being seated "to insure prompt service". Hence, the custom of tipping servers was created.

Russian Tea Tradition

Imperial Russia was attempting to engage China and Japan in trade at the same time as the East Indian Company. The Russian interest in tea began as early as 1618 when the Chinese embassy in Moscow presented several chests of tea to Czar Alexis. By 1689 the Trade Treaty of Newchinsk established a common border between Russia and China, allowing caravans to then cross back and forth freely. Still, the journey was not easy. The trip was 11,000 miles long and took over sixteen months to complete. The average caravan consisted of 200 to 300 camels. As a result of such factors, the cost of tea was initially prohibitive and available only to the wealthy. By the time Catherine the Great died (1796), the price had dropped some, and tea was spreading throughout Russian society. Tea was ideally suited to Russian life: hearty, warm, and sustaining.

The samovar, adopted from the Tibetan "hot pot", is a combination bubbling hot water heater and tea pot. Placed in the center of the Russian home, it could run all day and serve up to forty cups of tea at a time. Again showing the Asian influence in the Russian culture, guests sipped their tea from glasses in silver holders, very similar to Turkish coffee cups. The Russians have always favored strong tea highly sweetened with sugar, honey, or jam.

With the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railroad in 1900, the overland caravans were abandoned. Although the Revolution intervened in the flow of the Russian society, tea remained a staple throughout. Tea (along with vodka) is the national drink of the Russians today.

Tea and America

It was not until 1670 that English colonists in Boston became aware of tea, and it was not publicly available for sale until twenty years later. Tea Gardens were first opened in New York City, already aware of tea as a former Dutch colony. The new Gardens were centered around the natural springs, which the city fathers now equipped with pumps to facilitate the "tea craze". The most famous of these "tea springs" was at Roosevelt and Chatham (later Park Row Street).

By 1720 tea was a generally accepted staple of trade between the Colony and the Mother country. It was especially a favorite of colonial women, a factor England was to base a major political decision on later. Tea trade was centered in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, future centers of American rebellion. As tea was heavily taxed, even at this early date, contraband tea was smuggled into the colonies by the independent minded American merchants from ports far away and adopted herbal teas from the Indians. The directors of the then John Company (to merge later with the East India Company) fumed as they saw their profits diminish and they pressured Parliament to take action. It was not long in coming.

Tea and the American Revolution

England had recently completed the French and Indian War, fought, from England's point of view, to free the colony from French influence and stabilize trade. It was the feeling of Parliament that as a result, it was not unreasonable that the colonists shoulder the majority of the cost. After all, the war had been fought for their benefit. Charles Townshend presented the first tax measures which today are known by his name. They imposed a higher tax on newspapers (which they considered far too outspoken in America), tavern licenses (too much free speech there), legal documents, marriage licenses, and docking papers. The colonists rebelled against taxes imposed upon them without their consent and which were so repressive. New, heavier taxes were leveled by Parliament for such rebellion. Among these was, in June 1767, the tea tax that was to become the watershed of America's desire for freedom. (Townshend died three months later of a fever never to know his tax measures helped create a free nation.)

The colonists rebelled and openly purchased imported tea, largely Dutch in origin. The John company, already in deep financial trouble saw its profits fall even further. By 1773 the John Company merged with the East India Company for structural stability and pleaded with the Crown for assistance. The new Lord of the Treasury, Lord North, as a response to this pressure, granted to the new Company permission to sell directly to the colonists, by-passing the colonial merchants and pocketing the difference. In plotting this strategy, England was counting on the well known passion among American women for tea to force consumption. It was a major miscalculation. Throughout the colonies, women pledged publicly at meetings and in newspapers not to drink English sold tea until their free rights (and those of their merchant husbands) were restored.

The Boston Tea Party

By December 16 events had deteriorated enough that the men of Boston, dressed as Indians (remember the original justification for taxation had been the expense of the French and Indian War) threw hundreds of pounds of tea into the harbor: The Boston Tea Party. Such leading citizens as Samuel Adams and John Hancock took part. England had had enough. In retaliation, the port of Boston was closed and the city occupied by royal troops. The colonial leaders met and revolution was declared

The Trade Continued in the Orient

Though concerned over developments in America, English tea interests still centered on the product's source-the Orient. There the trading of tea had become a way of life, developing its own language known as "Pidgin English". Created solely to facilitate commerce, the language was composed of English, Portuguese, and Indian words all pronounced in Chinese. Indeed, the word "Pidgin" is a corrupted form of the Chinese word for "do business".


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