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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Anyone for Tea?



 As, here in England, we are known for enjoying a "nice cup of tea", I thought I would share with you how tea first originated in this country.  (Well, I did say that my Blog was going to be random!).
 In 1706, the area between Westminster and the City of London was becoming newly populated with the aristocracy, who were re-locating there following the Great Fire of London. It was at this time that Thomas Twining bought Tom’s Coffee House, which was situated just off London’s Strand, which was then  right on the border of these two areas.  Although tea was available in other London coffee houses, Thomas Twining made a point of only selling the finest quality teas, which gave him a distinct edge over his contemporaries.  Coffee houses of the time faced stiff competition –at one time there were some 2,500 of them squeezed into a two or three mile radius of Central London!  Proprietors were always on the look-out for new and eye-catching ways to boost their trade.  A certain Mr Lloyd, for example, would display a list of ships that were about to sail, along with a list of their cargo.  This encouraged the underwriters to meet in Mr Lloyd’s coffee house to arrange the insurance, and Lloyds of London is, of course, still in existence today.
     Tea drinking in the 18th century home, was an occasion of great ceremony.  A locked caddy, for which there was only one key, contained the precious tea leaves, and once or twice a week, this caddy would be opened by the lady of the house, in order to serve the tea as a family treat or to impress an important guest. The family’s wealth was emphasized by the fine porcelain that was used to serve the tea, and the translucent purity of the porcelain enabled a refined woman to show off her pale skin and delicate bone structure whilst serving the tea to her guests.  Believe it or not, these two attributes were the way that a lady’s purity was measured in those days.
     An early London advertisement for the sale of tea occurred in Great Britain in 1658, when tea was advertised for sale at a coffee house called the Sultaness-Head.  This was followed later that same year by the Merchant , Thomas Garway, who advertised tea at his London coffee house, ‘Garraways’.  In fact, according to Garway’s advertisements, there was hardly an ailment known to man that this miracle leaf couldn’t cure!
“…. Maketh the Body active and lusty …. Helpeth the Head-ache, giddiness …. Cleareth the Sight …. Vanquisheth heavy Dreams …. Easeth the Brain …. Is good for Colds, Dropsies and Scurveys ….”  Wild exaggerations or not, the    drinking of tea certainly became a very popular past-time.
            New beverages are constantly being created to meet the changing tastes of consumers.  As with most things, ever more sophisticated tastes are being demanded by the British public).  Tea Producers now aim to quench the thirst of even the most discerning palette – from everyday, traditional and speciality teas, to fruit and herbal infusions (Mango,Camomile and Limeflowers, Echinacea and Raspberry, Blackcurrant, Ginseng and Vanilla, to name but a few of the host of varieties now available to us) as well as healthy green teas (green tea with mint, green tea, pear and apple etc ).  Iced teas are also available for the warmer months.. The wide varieties of teas and tea customs often disguises the fact that they all come from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis.  This plant can produce hundreds of subtle variations of aroma and flavour – enough, in fact, to make the world of tea as varied as those of us who drink it. Green Tea is certainly growing in popularity at the moment, being rich in flavanoids, which are substances with powerful antioxidant properties.  These antioxidants may help protect us from the harmful effects of free radicals and also help delay the ageing process.  On top of that, a cup of green tea contains hardly any calories (less than 5 calories per 100 ml when drunk without milk or sugar). More of our Tea Producers these days are committed to the ethical sourcing of tea, and this is done through their membership of a growing international organization, known as the Ethical Tea Partnership.This Partnership monitors the condition of tea production around the world, and ensures that tea estates comply with the relevant laws and union agreements of their own particular Country in respect of employment, health and safety, housing, maternity and basic rights.  Full details of the Partnership and its work can be found on www.ethicalteapartnership.org.


2 comments:

Bouncin' Barb said...

Now that was interesting reading. Thanks for that. I'm a coffee drinker but when I'm sick or it's really cold out I'd go for a cup of tea. I bought green tea but have yet to try it. Guess now I'll really try it.

Thisisme said...

Hi Bouncin'Barb. Not sure that you will like green tea on its own! I love green tea with mint. Mind you, there's nothing like a nice cup of cappuccino with a slice of cake!