March 21, 2011

Brief History Of Tea

Do you know the history of tea ?. Botanically, the tea we drink is of the genus camellia and the species sinesis. Black teas, which account for approximately ninety percent of U.S. tea consumption, include such favorites as Orange Pekoe, English Breakfast, and Darjeeling.
Recent studies have shown that this tea can help reduce the risk of cancer. With oolong teas, the leaves are withered, rolled, twisted, and semi-fermented, producing a color and flavor that falls between that of black and green teas.

Although herbal teas are designated as teas, they are not comprised of any tea leaves. Instead, these herbal teas contain peels, grasses, berries, leaves, flowers, and flavorings from a variety of plants.
As each variety of tea has evolved through centuries of refinement, the origin of the first tea is clouded by myth.

While preparing his water one day, a light wind deposited several tea leaves into his boiling pot. At the time, tea, no longer confined to medicinal and religious purposes, had become a beverage of choice, but production methods for tea were varied and disconnected.

At first, the East India Company's tea shipments were meager and subject to tariffs. Consequently, enterprising merchants of the piratical sort ignored the imposed monopoly and illegally imported tea. These contraband shipments not only increased the supply of tea on mainland England but also stimulated its sale and allure by offering this forbidden tea at a lower price.

Unfortunately, the colonial tea trade was almost exclusively with the Mother country. Following the Revolutionary War, America staked its own claim in the Chinese tea trade, and by the turn of the twentieth century, tea became a source of social congregation.

In both America and England, fine hotels housed tea courts and tea rooms, where men and women could gather in the late afternoon, sip tea, and exchange pleasantries. These tea rooms and tea courts soon moved to host tea dances, where spirits soared over the freedom and conveniences afforded by the ever evolving technology of the day.

During this time two particular tea discoveries were made almost accidentally. A second evolution of tea occurred in 1908 when Thomas Sullivan began to ship tea samples in individual bags to New York area restaurants. Tea historian J. M. Scott chronicles these superstitions:

To stir tea in the pot is to stir up strife. Unquestionably, today's ubiquitous cup of tea continues to be an event maker. That's the brief history of tea to know

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