an invitation from adagio teas
TEA’S COLORFUL HISTORY originally green. However, with an until the completion of the Trans-
More tea is drunk around the world increase in trade during the Ming Siberian Railway in 1903, which had
than any other beverage, and behind Dynasty (A.D. 1368 - 1644), the radically reduced journey time to less
this everyday brew lies a colorful and Chinese growers were challenged to than a week.
fascinating story that weaves its way preserve tea’s delicate qualities dur- Tea’s fate in Britain took a lucky
through the social and cultural histo- ing its long journeys, as far afield as turn in 1662 when King Charles II
ry of many nations. Europe. The solution was the inven- married a Portuguese princess.
tion of new processing methods to Britain’s new queen was a confirmed
Chinese Origin make black and flower-scented teas. tea drinker long before she arrived for
According to ancient legend, tea Ming producers found that fermen- her wedding. She brought with her,
was discovered serendipitously tation was able to preserve tea as part of her dowry, a chest of China
by a Chinese Emperor in 2737 leaves, making them suitable for tea, and began serving it at Court. As
B.C. as wayward tea leaves the long overseas journey. And word of the new beverage spread,
floated into his boiling pot of though Europe’s first taste of tea more and more people wished to try
water. We can never know for was green, the fashion gradually it. Soon tea became Britain’s most
sure that this is how tea’s story changed to black as Chinese popular drink, replacing ale at break-
actually began. In fact, there is growers altered tea production fast and gin at any other time of day.
no written reference to tea until the methods to suit the logistics of dis- As the popularity of tea spread, it
third century B.C., when a famous tant trade. also became an essential part of peo-
Chinese surgeon recommends it for ple’s entertainment outside the home.
increasing alertness. Yet most schol- Leap to Europe Luxurious tea gardens appeared all
ars agree that tea was indeed popular It is not clear whether it was the over the country, where people from
in China all those many years ago. Dutch or the Portuguese who were all walks of life, including royalty,
Tea entered its ‘golden age’ during responsible for bringing ashore could take fresh air, drink tea, and
the colorful years of the Tang Dynasty Europe’s first chest of tea in the early enjoy a variety of entertainments.
(A.D. 618 - 906). No longer drunk seventeenth century, for both nations The credit for inventing the quin-
simply as a medicinal tonic, tea was were then actively trading in the
taken as much for pleasure as for its China Seas. The Portuguese shipped ICED TEA
restorative powers. The preparation China teas to Lisbon, and from there Iced tea was born in 1904 at the St.
and service of the liquor developed the Dutch East India Company car- Louis World Fair. Frustrated that the
into an elaborate ceremony, while the ried goods on to Holland, France and hot temperature sent visitors past his
cultivation and processing of the leaf Germany. Yet, by the end of that cen- stand in search of cold refreshments,
were tightly controlled. Tea became tury, coffee had supplanted tea as the an Englishman Richard Blechynder
important enough during this period national beverage in both Germany had the novel idea to put his drink in
for a group of merchants to commis- and France. It was only in Russia glasses filled with ice. Thus,
sion the writer, Lu Yu, to compile the and England that the market for America discovered and fell in
first ever book on the subject, Classic tea was continuing to grow. love with iced tea. Curiously
of Tea. The first tea reached Russia in enough, iced tea never caught
All tea produced in China was 1618 as a gift from the Chinese to on in Richard's native England.
Tsar Alexis. A trade agreement To make iced tea, use twice
INSIDE was soon signed and caravans of the amount of tea and brew as
200-300 camels laden with furs, that usual. When tea is ready, add plen-
tea bags full of dust p. 2 were to be exchanged for tea, began ty of ice and serve. Alternatively,
from leaf to cup p. 3 trekking the desert. Each camel car- make a regular pot of tea and refrig-
tea habits the world over p. 3 ried four chests (600 pounds) of tea, erate overnight. Any variety of tea
making a perfect cup p. 4 may be iced, though black teas from
making the journey back to Moscow
health benefits of tea p. 4 arduously slow and taking about 18 Ceylon and Keemun seem especially
tea trivia p. 4 months. The caravan trade continued suited for the ‘big chill.’
tessential British tradition of ‘after- where a flood of sea water turned it and in the workplace. However, it
noon tea’ is given to Anna, the sev- into unusable sludge. A year later, was only recently that the resurgence
enth Duchess of Bedford. She con- Britain declared war and China retali- of interest in tea led to a revival of the
ceived the idea of having tea around ated by placing an embargo on all British tea shops and tearooms.
four or five in the afternoon to ward export of tea. The Opium Wars had
off the hunger pangs between lunch begun. Tea in America
and dinner. Some time earlier, the It was inevitable that tea would find
Earl of Sandwich had the novel idea Birth of an Empire its way to North America along with
of putting a filling between two slices Its trade with China cut off, Britain the settlers from Europe. All over the
of bread. Soon all of fashionable began to seek other locations for the New World, tea was drunk in the
London was indulging in these after- production of tea. Northern India same elegant fashion as in Europe. In
noon gatherings to drink tea, eat was particularly promising due to its colonial America, tea and the compli-
sandwiches, and exchange gossip and climate and altitudes. It is here that in mentary silver and porcelain were
general conversation. 1823 the British East India Company’s symbols of wealth and social status.
As tea consumption in Britain first crop was planted. Its first ship- Even the less affluent families viewed
grew, annual imports from China ment of Assam tea reached London the taking of tea as a display of their
were costing the country dear and fifteen years later, and the Company good manners.
China did not need or want cotton, soon expanded into other areas, most The Boston Tea Party ended
the one export that Britain had to notably Darjeeling. America’s liking for both the British
offer. Opium soon became the Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) also and their tea. The origins of the trou-
answer. The Chinese wanted opium became a major producing area after ble lay in the passing of an Act of
and the British (and later the the 1860s coffee crop failure, switch- Parliament in 1767, which attempted
Portuguese) were willing suppliers. ing to tea as a suitable alternative. to tax the American colonies.
Despite more and more severe penal- The island’s fortune was soon Within two years of its passing,
ties from the Chinese government for transformed by a visitor from most American ports were refus-
the use and importation of opium, the London and a newcomer to tea ing to allow any dutiable goods
illegal trade continued until, in 1839, a trade. At age 40, Thomas Lipton ashore, and when the British sent
high Chinese official deposited 20,000 was already a millionaire, with seven shiploads of tea from
chests of it on the beach near Canton grocery stores all over England. London, feelings ran high. In
Lipton decided to grow his own New York and Philadelphia,
TEA BAGS FULL OF DUST tea and sell it directly to the public demonstrations forced the ships to
The ubiquitous tea bag, the most pop- through his stores. His slogan "Direct turn back. In Boston, general unrest
ular form of tea in U.S., is a sorry from the Tea Gardens to the Tea Pot" over several weeks was followed by
product of mass production and mass became famous, and his colorful the boarding of the Dartmouth by a
marketing. These handy sacks, no advertising campaigns ensured that band of men disguised as Indians, to
matter what shape or how fancy the Lipton name became worldwide cries of "Boston harbor - a teapot
packaged, invariably hold inferior tea synonymous with tea. tonight." In the course of the next
composed of leaf fannings and dust. London’s urban sprawl had led to three hours, they threw 340 chests of
Fannings are tiny leaf particles that the closure of the city’s many tea gar- tea overboard. The British govern-
break off when tea leaves are dens, depriving its citizens of a place ment’s closure of Boston harbor and
processed. The tiny specks that to gather for tea. An alternative was the arrival of British troops on
remain when fannings are removed found in 1864 with the opening of the American soil market the beginning
are called dust. The latter is used in first public tearoom. Proving to be of the War of Independence and
the tea bags you find at your super- immensely popular, tearooms multi- America’s coffee-drinking tradition.
market. These invariably produce a plied all over London and in Britain’s World War II marked a final blow
dark cup of weak and bland-tasting provincial towns. The fashion of to America’s affinity for fine teas.
tea. The fancy packaged tea bags going out to tea reached its heyday in Prior to the war, Americans were well
you'll find in most restaurants, are the Edwardian period (1901 - 1914) versed in the many varieties of tea.
genuinely better for they contain fan- when the newly opened grand hotels Black teas accounted for only 40% of
nings and CTC (machine produced began serving stylish three-course consumption. Another 40% were
tea that's been - literally! - cut, torn afternoon teas in the opulence of their green, and the delicate oolongs com-
and crushed). Yet these are a far cry palm-filled lounges. prised the remaining 20%. Grown
from the abundance of flavor and Changes in social patterns and exclusively in the Orient, however,
intoxicating aroma found in a cup of lifestyles brought about by the World these teas became scarce during the
fine full-leaf tea. We are convinced Wars and the onslaught in the 1950s war, and were replaced with lower
that once you discover the pleasures of fast food outlets and coffee bars led quality black tea from Argentina and
of fine tea, you will no longer accept to a gradual decline in the fashion for other open markets. Sadly, this
the inferior contents of a mass-market going out to tea. The British contin- wartime anomaly never reversed
tea bag. ued, of course, to drink tea at home itself. To this day, ninety-eight per-
cent of tea consumed in the United oolong tea is generally referred to as many of the famous tea houses had
States is low-grade black. "semi-fermented" tea and is principal- been renovated and had regained
ly manufactured in China and Taiwan much of their earlier popularity.
FROM LEAF TO CUP (still known as Formosa, its old Dutch
The tea plant, called camellia sinensis, name). Oolong leaves are wilted in In Japan, the preferred tea is still the
is a flowering evergreen shrub. All direct sunlight, then shaken in bam- traditional green leaf, and thousands
tea comes from local variants of this boo baskets to lightly bruise the of men and women attend the various
plant. Similar to the production of edges. Next, the leaves are spread out tea schools learning how to properly
wine, the final taste and quality of tea to dry until the surface of the leaf perform the famous Tea Ceremony.
are influenced by many important turns slightly yellow. Oolongs are This ceremony represents the culmi-
contributory factors - climate, soil, always whole leaf teas, never broken nation of the Japanese elevation of tea
altitude, conditions, when and how it by rolling. The least fermented of from a medicine and beverage to a
is plucked and processed. oolong teas are known as Pouchong. way of life, a religion of aestheticism.
Tea leaves grow slower at high Because of high domestic consump-
altitude. A combination of cool air black tea undergoes a full fermenta- tion, only about 2% of Japanese tea
and humidity promotes the desired tion process composed of four basic are available for export.
slow growth; the higher a tea is steps - withering, rolling, ferment-
grown, the more flavor it has, and the ing, and firing (or drying). First, Tea is very much the favorite
finer its quality. Many of the world’s the plucked leaves are spread drink in India, often served in
most famous teas - high grown out to wither. Then the with- the British way (with milk), or
Ceylons and the finest Darjeelings - ered leaves are rolled, in order boiled with water, milk and
come from bushes cultivated 4,000 to release the chemicals within spices. Street stalls sell very
feet and above sea level. the leaf that are essential to its final strong tea with lots of sugar and milk,
The leaves are plucked as the new color and flavor. The rolled leaves are and at India’s packed train stations,
shoots - or "flush" - are beginning to spread out once more to absorb oxy- tea is kept hot in large kettles and
grow. These tiny young shoots and gen (oxidize), causing the leaves to served in clay cups that are smashed
their thin, unopened buds produce turn from green to coppery red. and thrown away after use.
the most delicate and flavorful teas. Finally, the oxidized leaves are fired
Picked and processed by hand, only in order to arrest fermentation, turn- In Turkey, tea is far more popular than
these delicate young leaves go into ing the leaf black and giving it the rec- coffee, despite a popular belief other-
the making of a premium tea. ognizable tea smell. wise. The strong black brew is
It was thought at one time that strained into little curved glasses and
green and black teas were made from scented tea is created when the addi- served all day long. Tea is so impor-
different plants. In fact, it is only the tional flavorings are mixed with the tant to domestic life that mothers
different processing methods that leaf at a final stage before the tea is make sure the future daughters-in-
produce the main different types - packed. For Jasmine tea, whole jas- law know how to brew it correctly.
white, green, oolong, black, and mine blossoms are added to green or
scented - and the many different vari- oolong tea. Fruit-flavored teas are In Russia, both green and black tea
eties within each category, resulting in generally made by blending the are drunk from glasses that often have
thousands of teas from all over the fruits’ essential oils with black tea. a metal handle. A lump of sugar or a
world. spoonful of jam is taken into the
mouth before tea is sipped. The
white tea is produced on a very limit- TEA HABITS THE WORLD OVER samovar, still employed on festive
ed scale in China and Sri Lanka. The Although China produces large quan- occasions, became popular in the
new buds are plucked before they tities of black tea for export, the most 1730s. It keeps the tea hot for hours
open and allowed to dry. The curled- popular teas in China are green and and provides a ready supply for any
up buds have a silvery appearance scented. In most places, the tea set number of guests.
and produce a very pale, straw-col- consists of a tiny teapot (the best
ored liquor. made of Yixing stoneware) and tiny In Morocco, tea is served in glasses on
handle-less cups. At home, tea is a silver tray. It is the man’s job in
green tea is often referred to as ‘unfer- always offered to visitors, and in Moroccan household to pour tea. It is
mented’ tea. The freshly picked restaurants, a pot of tea is the first also custom to hold the long-spouted
leaves are allowed to dry, then are item brought to the table - to refresh pot high above the glass as he pours.
heat-treated to stop any fermentation customers before a meal - and the last This gives tea a slightly frothy head.
(also referred to as oxidation). In - to aid in digestion. Most of the tra- Mint leaves are often added to
China, traditional hand-making ditional tea houses were shut down in enhance flavor.
methods are still employed in many the 1930s, tea drinking being labeled
places, particularly in the manufac- an ‘unproductive leisure activity’ dur- Tea continues to be Britain’s favorite
ture of its premium teas. ing the Cultural Revolution. Lately, beverage, despite competition from
coffee and soft drinks. The average HEALTH BENEFITS OF TEA Newsweek, Oct 19, 1998
Briton drinks more than three cups a Hardly a week goes by without news "Scientists have long linked green tea
day. Surprisingly, many of these are of yet another research study confirm- to the low rates of stomach cancer and
brewed with tea bags, which give a ing the health benefits of tea. heart disease found in some Asian
brew that, to connoisseurs at least, has Impartial analysis and hard data are populations. New finding suggest
little taste. However, plenty of Brits now confirming what the ancients in that black tea, which comes from the
still know how to brew and serve an Asia had known for many centuries: same leaves, offers similar benefits."
excellent cup of tea. A growing inter- tea is good for you. A "Tea in the
est and awareness of quality teas had News" page on our web site summa- "But don’t count on the same punch of
recently let to a revival of the After- rizes the latest findings in this area. antioxidants from powdered, instant
noon Tea ceremony and the prolifera- The following are some excerpts: or bottled tea."
tion of tea shops and tearooms. The Washington Post, Oct. 6, 1998
"Research shows that regular con- "A study by USDA found that bottled
Although the United States is general- sumption of tea has been linked to tea contained no detectable levels of
ly though of as a coffee-drinking lower risk of both heart disease and many of these substances, while pow-
nation, attested by the ubiquity of cancer." Prevention, May 1996 dered and instant tea contained only
Starbucks and other coffee chains, a "All three teas (green, oolong or black) small percentages compared with
less visible tea wave had began boast rich amounts of naturally occur- freshly brewed tea."
sweeping the nation about ten years ring compounds called flavonoids.
ago. Similar to most trends, it origi- Scientist believe it may be these com- TEA TRIVIA
nated on the West Coast, and had pounds that could account for the The tea gardens of England gave birth
now resonated to most corners of the lower risk of cancer and heart disease to tipping as a response to prompt
country. With greater interest in among tea drinkers… Drinking tea is service. A small wooden box
healthy lifestyles and culinary excel- something like drinking a vegetable. inscribed with TIPS, short for ‘To
lence, people began to discover once And it sure beats drinking brewed Insure Prompt Service’ was place on
more the benefits and pleasures of spinach." each table. A coin dropped in the box
fine, loose teas. Leading the wave usually improved the speed and qual-
had been the newly established tea "Tea leaves are richer than most fruits ity of service. And thus the custom of
houses, as well as mail order and and vegetables in antioxidant com- tipping was born.
internet-based catalogs. pounds." Newsweek, Oct 19, 1998
"These chemicals seem to inhibit The British custom of drinking tea
tumor growth and may also combat with milk has its roots not in taste but
arterial blockage that leads to heart economics. The long journey from the
MAKING A PERFECT CUP attack and stroke." Orient made tea prohibitively expen-
Making loose tea is only slightly more sive. Milk, on the other hand, was
demanding that seeping a tea bag. "For squelching cancer-causing free cheap and became the condiment of
But the huge difference in taste, we radicals, a glass of iced tea rivals broc- choice among the lower classes. The
hope you will agree, makes it well coli and carrots." Prevention, Aug 1998 amount of it added became a telltale
worth it. "Finally, something we love has of one’s social standing. The wealthy
Begin with quality loose tea turned out to be great for us. took their tea undiluted. The middle
of your choice. Use a full tea- It's iced tea, America's cher- class poured the expensive tea and
spoon of tea for each cup ished year-round thirst then diluted it with milk. The lower
(slightly more for volumi- quencher, and it's brimming class filled the cup with cheap milk
nous teas like whites and with healing antioxidants-just and then added a splash of the costly
oolongs). Bring fresh drawn like hot tea." tea.
(preferably filtered) cold water to
a boil. If making green tea, allow "Green tea is considered a way to
water to cool down for a few minutes purify the body and lift the spirits"
(green teas taste best when brewed in The New York Times, Feb. 22, 98
cooler water). Optimal brewing time "Green tea, which contains vitamin C, This text draws heavily on The Tea
depends on the type of tea selected. is enlightening and inspirational as Companion by Jane Pettigrew, an excellent
introduction to the world of tea. This
Most green teas are ready in 3 min- well as an anti-irritant and antioxi-
book and other tea information sources
utes, black teas in 4-5 minutes and dant. Studies in Japan have shown are available at our web site.
oolong teas may require 7 minutes for that people who drink green tea every
the large leaves to unfurl and infuse. day have lower rates of cancer,
Remove tea leaves and enjoy.
Allowing the leaves to remain in the
tumors, and lower blood cholesterol." adagio teas
pot will cause tea to become too New finding suggest that black teas (877) ADAGIO-T
strong and taste bitter. offers similar benefits as green tea. www.discovertea.com