Monday, January 30, 2006

Vacherin du Mont d'Or

Vacherin du Mont d'Or
Franche Comté, France

Cheese has been made in the Franche Comté since the 12th century. It was first produced in the great abbeys such as Saint-Claude and Montbenôit. Vacherin du Haut Doubs is a relatively recent addition to the local range of cheeses, having been made for a mere 200 years.
Since Vacherin du Mont d'Or was originally made the borders between France and Switzerland have fluctuated and this had led to disputes regarding the cheese's origins and rights of production. The Swiss version is made using pasteurised cows' milk and the French using unpasteurised cows' milk.
The cheese is shaped in cloth-lined moulds then encircled with a strip of spruce bark and washed with brine for at least three weeks. The spruce imparts a resinous flavour to the pale interior of the cheese which becomes almost liquid as it matures. The undulating golden crust, tinged with pink, shows faint cloth markings. Before eating the top rind is removed from the cheese and the paste spooned out. The whole cheese can also be cooked and served in the same manner as a fondue - see the recipe on the back page of this newsletter.
Vacherin du Mont d'Or first gained its AOC status on 24th March 1982 and this was modified on 29th December 1986. The AOC rules dictate that it can only be made between the 15th August, when the cows return from their mountain pastures, and 31st March. The first cheese each year is ready at the end of September and Vacherin is a popular cheese at Christmas time. AOC rules also specify areas and methods of production. On the French side of the Massif du Mont d'Or there are around 40 villages that lie above 800m, spreading from the source of the River Doubs to the Saut du Doubs. Between them they produce 1700 tonnes of cheese every year. Milk from two types of cattle are used, the Montbéliard and the Pie Rouge de l'Est. The cheese is then made into Mont d'Or in the same 20 co-operatives which produce Comté in the spring and summer.
Vacherin du Mont d'Or is available in three sizes; the smallest is 400g in weight, 4cm tall and 12cm in diameter; the next largest is 800g in weight, 4cm tall and 16cm in diameter; the largest is the cutting Vacherin which is 1.3kg in weight, 4cm tall and 30cm in diameter. All have a fat content of 50%. The cheese can be enjoyed with wines such as Beaujolais Nouveau, Côtes du Jura and Champagne.

Tomme Crayuese

Milk : Cow's milk ; Pasteurized milk
Maturing time : 6 to 7 weeks
Type : Pressed cheese non cooked
Weight : 3.9 to 4.4 pounds (1.8 to 2 kg)
Dimension : 8 to 8.4 inches large ; 2.4 to 2.5 inches high
Packing : per unit
Rind : natural, very thin grey rind
Texture : white-ivory color, smooth, fragile
Taste : light and fine, pleasant light acidity

History :

When they left Switzerland to set up in France in 1964, the SCHMIDHAUSER Family was mainly known as a cheese-maker. Arriving in France, they used their know-how to specialize in cheese maturing (affinage) and decided to work in partnership with Savoy cheese-makers. Today, they do both : they mature the cheeses in their cellars located in Alex (Haute Savoie, between Annecy and Thônes) and also own (totally or partially) Dairy and Farm cheese factories.
Regarding Tomme de Savoie, the Schmidhauser Family was looking for something new and different from the usual Tomme de Savoie 45%. Thanks to their partnership with cheese factories, they did some tests and eventually succeeded in creating a new kind of Tomme de Savoie called Tomme Crayeuse : a mix of creamy cheese along the rind, with a very thin grey rind (with yellow flowers), and the heart of the cheese looking like a young Brie or Camembert. The secret of this recipe is based on a simple process : usually, when you make a Tomme de Savoie, you want to control and eliminate the acidity ; with Tomme Crayeuse, you have to help this acidity to develop to a certain level during the manufacturing process, before going on to mastering the process during “affinage” (maturing time) in the cellars. Not easy to keep the balance!! But such a good result!!


Goat’s Milk/raw
Fat content: 45%
Affinage: 1 month

Wrapped in chestnut leaves, tied with raffia, this small picturesque Provencal cheese is a pure delight.

Made on a high, arid, wind swept plateau between the Mediterranean and the Alps – Charles and Simone
Chabot, ex - Parisian radicals escaped the city more than
three decades ago after disappointment in the failed ‘60s

The goats eat primarily sainfoin, a hybrid of rye and wheat but
also graze on wild plants that strew the plateau.

This banon, one of many cheeses made by and rescued from
oblivion by the Chabots, is marvelous – lighter than the cow
or sheep banon one usually finds… it leaves a trace of sweetness
on the palate. The paste varies from young and soft, with a
subtle taste to one that is dryer and slightly piquant, due
to the action of tannins in the chestnut-leaf wrapping.


Moulis is a small village situated on the road that traverses the Couserans valley: direction from Saint Girons. This little treasure has an interesting history. It was created by the grandfather Pujol and today is made by his grand daughter accompanied by her husband who resembles a modern day Viking.
The couple only make about 17,000 cheeses a year. Despite the many little aerated holes the cheese’s dough is moist, creamy and melts in the mouth. The rind is natural, obtained from washing in brine every two days for the first two weeks, then turned and bushed for a month or two. The pate (dough) after maturing for six months will turn dark and become hard and has the tendency to sting the tongue. A great example of a mountain cheese, steeped in tradition, full of the perfumes of the Pyrenees, and make with “amour”( love)

At first, the pâte is straw-coloured, then it turns brown. Despite its many holes, it is moist, fatty and melts softly in the mouth. With age, it darkens and becomes harder. The natural rind is dry with white and brown mould, marked by cloth.
Both young and mature Moulis have strong taste. The distinct taste of fermentation and decay stings the tongue. The cheese smells strong and is piquant when old.

Persillé de Tignes

Persillé de Tignes
(pronounced per-se-lay de teen)

A fairly obscure unpasteurized goats milk cheese from the Savoie made originally in the village of Tignes until the village was submerged in the damming of the Lac du Chevril. Today, Tignes is a ski resort comprised of four villages and the cheese is made in a nearby village.

Back to the cheese, Persillé is the name used to designate goats’ (or sometimes goat and cow mixed) milk mountain cheeses from the Savoie which develop blue veining as they mature. During affinage (French term meaning active maturing by an affineur), the blueing can be encourage by piercing the cheese and feeding the naturally present mold with oxygen.

Persillé de Tignes weighs about a pound with a natural, slightly wrinkled rind which resembles the wall of the cave. The cheeses are ripened by master Savoie affineur Denis Provent, also of Bleu de Termignon infamy (upcoming for Christmas).

The exterior of the cheese shows the beautiful phosphorescent molds of the Savoie soil- bright yellow, said to be from the sulfur present in the soil, and spots of burnt orange atop the varying shades of gray and white. The paté, or interior body, of the cheese is pale colored and loosely knitted, reminiscent of farmhouse Caerphilly (particularly Chris Duckett’s) from the U.K.

Though its made from goats milk, many of the flavors associated with goats milk are elusive. Persillé de Tignes tastes bright, acidic and long-lasting with slightly grassy, minerally flavors which resound like an Elvin Jones "ride" cymbal (circa Coltrane Olé). This cheese tastes wild and untamed which is how I visualize life in the remote crannies of the Savoie mountains and valleys.

A cheese which reflects its origin is a treasure and Persillé de Tignes is a treasure worth seeking out. We will be carrying these cheeses off and on throughout the rest of the year at varying degrees of maturity so anyone interested should call or email for availability.

A note about wines: I paired this cheese in one of our monthly cheese and wine pairings with Domaine de Gour de Chaulé Gigondas Rosé 1998 (imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant ) with great success, but it also worked well with Perrin Brothers Reserve Cotes du Rhones Blanc 1997 (imported by Vineyard Brands). The Cotes du Rhones Blanc should work better when the cheese is younger, but the Gigondas Rosé is a particularly rich, and tasty, rosé and will take on bigger flavors as the cheese matures.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Find your favorite cheese on this list! Discover a new favorite!

1. Abbaye de la Joie Notre Dame
Abbaye de la Pierre-qui-Vire
Abbaye de Cîteaux
Abbaye de Belloc
Abbaye de la Coudre
Abbaye du Mont des Cats
Abrioulet `
Afuega'l Pitu
Aged Leyden
Aged Gouda
Ahumado de Aliva
Aisy Cendré
Allgäuer Emmenthaler
Anneau du Vic-Bilh
Arômes au Vin Blanc
Arômes au Gène de Marc
Asiago D'Allevo
Aubisque Pyrénées
Austrian Emmenthaler
Austrian Swiss
Austrian Gruyère
Baguette Laonaise
Banon à la Feuille
Beaujolais Pur Chèvre
Bel Paese
Berger plat
Besace de Pur Chèvre
Bilou du Jura
Blå Castello
Bleu de Gex
Bleu de Haut-Jura
Bleu D'Auvergne
Bleu de Septmoncel
Bleu de Termignon
Bleu de Causses
Bleu des Causses
Bleu de Septmoncel
Bleu d'Auvergne
Bleu de Bresse
Bleu du Quercy
Bleu de Gex
Bleu de Costaros
Bleu de Sassenage
Bleu de Loudes
Bleu de Langeac
Bleu de Lacqueuille
Bleu de Haut-Jura
Blue Vinney
Bonde de Gâtine
Boule de Lille
Boule des Moines
Boulette de Cambrai
Boulette D'Avesnes
Boulette d'Avesnes
Bouton de Culotte
Bouton d'Oc
Brebis le Cayolar
Brebis des Pyrénées
Brebis Frais du Caussedou
Brebis Pyrénées
Brebis de Pays de rasse
Brebis du Lochois
Brebis du Bersend
Brebis de Pays
Bresse Bleu
Brie De Meaux
Brie de Melun
Brie de Montereau
Brie le Provins
Brie Fermier
Brie de Meaux
Brie Noir
Brie de Coulommiers
Brie de Nangis
Brie de Melun
Brin d'Amour
Brique du Forez
Brique Ardéchoise
Briquette de Coubon
Brocciu poivré
Brousse du Rove
Bruder Basil
Bûchette d'Anjou
Bûchette de Banon
Bulgarian Feta
Cabécou de Gramat
Cabécou de Rocamadour
Caciotta al Tartufo
Camambert de Normandie
Camembert Affiné au Cindre à la Maison
Camembert de Normandie
Canadian Cheddar
Capri Lezéen
Caprice des Dieux
Capricorn de Jarjat
Carré de l'Est
Cashel Blue
Cervelle de Canut
Chabichou Fermier
Chabichou du Poitou
Chabichou du Poitou
Chèvre Fermier Alpilles
Chèvre Fermier
Chèvre de Pays
Chèvre de la Loire
Chèvre a l'Huile d'Olive et à la Sarriette
Chèvre Fermier du Château-Vert
Chèvre Frais
Chèvre de Coin
Chevreton de Mâcon
Chevrette des Bauges
Chevrotin de Macôt
Chevrotin d'Alpae
Chevrotin de Montvalezan
Chevrotin de Peisey-Nancroix
Chevrotin des Aravis
Chevrotin du Mont Cenis
Claqueret Lyonnais
Coeur d'Arras
Coeur de Berry
Coeur d'Avesnes
Coeur de Camembert au Calvados
Confit d'Epoisses
Cornish Yarg
Crema Danica
Crottin de Berry à l'Huile d'Olive
Crottin d'Ambert
Crottin de Chavignol
Crottin de Pays
Crottin de Chavignol
Curé Nantais
Danish Tilsit
Danish Port-Salut
Danish Blue
Danish Fontina
Délice de Saint-Cyr
Double Gloucester
Dreux à la Feuille
Dreux à la Feuille
Dry Jack
E Bamalou
Emmental Grand Cru
Epoisses de Bourgogne
Epoisses de Bourgogne
Faiselle de Chèvre
Farmhouse Lancashire
Feuille de Dreux
Finlandia Swiss
Finnish Lappi
Fiore Sardo
Fleur du Maquis
Fontina D'Aosta
Fourme de Cantal
Fourme de Chèvre Ardèche
Fourme de Montbrison
Fourme d'Ambert
Fourme du Cantal
Friesian Clove Cheese
Fromage de Pays, Mixte
Fromage Fort
Fromage de Montagne
Fromage à Raclette
Fromage Pur Lait de Brebis
Fromage Frais de Nîmes
Fromage Frais
Fromage Fort du Lyonnais
Fromage Fermier Pur Brebis
Fromage Fermier de Chèvre de la Tavagna
Fromage Fermier Brebis
Fromage Fermier au Lait de Vache
Fromage Fermier au Lait de Brebis
Fromage Fermier
Fromage du Jas
Fromage de Vache Brûlé
Fromage de Vache
Fromage de Montagne, Le Rogallis
Fromage de Montagne, Le Pic de la Calabasse
Fromage de Montagne le Lège
Fromage d'Ossau
Fromage de Monsieur
Fromage de Chèvre Larzac
Fromage de Chèvre Fermier
Fromage de Chèvre de Coin
Fromage de Chèvre Ariège
Fromage de Brebis Vallée d'Ossau
Fromage de Brebis et Vache Fermier
Fromage de Brebis
Fromage Cendré
Fromage d'Hesdin
Fromage Corse Niolo
Fromage Corse
Fromage Blanc Fermier
Fromage Blanc
Fromage au Lait de Chévre
Fromage Allégé
Fromageé du Larzac
Fromageon Fermier au Lait Cru de Brebis
Galet de Bigorre
Galet Solognot
Galette des Monts du Lyonnais
Gargantua à la Feuille de Sauge
German Münster
Glarner Schabzieger
Gournay Frais
Grana Padano
Grana Padano
Grand Vatel
Grand Colombier des Aillons
Grataron d'Arèches
Gris de Lille
Gruyère (Swiss)
Hereford Hop
La Bouille
La Taupinière
Lanark Blue
Le Cathelain
Le Vachard
Le Venaco
Le Saulxurois
Le Moulis
Le Saint-Winoc
Le Cassedou
Le Petit Bayard
Le Bouca
Le Pavé du Plessis
Le Pavé
Le Pitchou
Le Vieux Corse
Le Niolo
Le Bourricot
Le Cornilly
Le Fium'Orbo
Le Fougerus
Lou Pennol
Lou Magré
L'Ami du Chambertin
Maasdam Leerdammer
Mimolette Française
Monsieur Fromage
Mont d'Or
Mont d'Or du Lyonnais
Mothais à la Feuille
Munster au Cumin
Nantais dit Fromage du Curé
Olivet Cendré
Olivet au Foin
Ossau Fermier
Ossau-Iraty Brebis Pyrénées
Palouse des Aravis
Pâte de Fromage
Patefine Fort
Pavé Blésois
Pavé de la Ginestarié
Pavé de Roubaix
Pavé d'Auge
Pecorino Romano
Pecorino Toscano
Pecorino Siciliano
Pecorino Sardo
Pecorino Nero
Pélardon desCorbières
Pélardon des Cévennes
Père Joseph
Persillé de Tignes
Persillé du Semnoz
Persillé de le Tarentaise
Persillé de la Haute-Tarentaise
Petit Pardou
Pèvre d'Aï
Picodon l'Ardèche
Picodon à l'Huile d'Olive
Picodon de Crest
Picodon de Dieulefit
Picodon du Dauphiné
Picodon de l'Ardèche
Picodon de la Drôme
Pithiviers au Foin
Poivre d'Âne
Port Salut
Queso de Urbiés
Queso Beyos
Queso del Tiétar
Queso Porrúa
Queso Pasiego
Queso Beyusco
Queso de Tupí
Queso de Benasque
Queso de los Beyos
Queso de Ulloa
Queso de Ulla
Queso del Valle de Aráa
Queso Xenestoso
Queso Gallego
Queso Genestoso
Queso de Murcia al Vino
Queso de Arzúa
Queso Ansó-Hecho
Queso de Nata
Queso de Zuheros
Queso de Buelles
Queso Gamonedo
Queso de Murcia
Queso de Cebreiro
Queso Cassoleta
Queso Casín
Queso de Burgos
Reblochon de Savoie
Ricotta Salata
Rigotte de Condrieu
Rigotte d'Echalas
Rigotte des Alpes
Rigotte de Sainte-Colombe
Robiola Piemonte
Robiola Lombardia
Robiola di Roccaverano
Rogeret de Lamastre
Rond Artois
Sage Derby
Saint Michael
Saint-Félicien de Lamastre
Sainte-Maure de Touraine
Sainte-Maure de Touraine
San Simon
San Petrone
Scottish Cheddar
Séchon de Chévre Drômois
Shropshire Blue
Single Gloucester
Somerset Blue
Sourire Lozérien
Swedish Fontina
Tête de Moine
Tilsit Havarti
Tome Mi-Chèvre du Lècheron
Tome de Chèvre, Belleville
Tome de Chèvre du Tarn
Tome de Ménage
Tome Pays Basque
Tome Alpage de la Vanoise
Tome Chèvre
Tome de Banon
Tome de Chèvre
Tomme de l'Aveyron
Tomme Fermière des Lindarets
Tomme Fraîche
Tomme du Faucigny
Tomme au Marc de Raisin
Tomme Capra
Tomme Corse
Tomme d'Arles
Tomme de Huit Litres
Tomme de Chèvre
Tomme de Chèvre d'Alpage Morzine
Tomme de Chèvre de Pays
Tomme de Chèvre Pays Nantais
Tomme de Chèvre, les Pyrénées
Tomme de Chèvre, Loubières
Tomme de Chèvre, Savoie
Tomme de Chèvre, Vallée de Morzine
Tomme de Chèvre, Vallée de Novel
Tomme de Courchevel
Tomme de Savoie Maigre
Tomme de la Frasse Fermière
Tomme de Lomagne
Tomme de Lullin
Tomme deMontagne
Tomme de Romans
Tomme de Savoie
Tomme de Savoie au Cumin
Tomme Grasse Fermière des Bauges
Tomme de de Séranon
Tomme de de Thônes
Tomme de Vendée
Tomme du Bougnat
Tomme le Gascon
Tomme du Mont Cenis
Tomme Grise de Seyssel
Tommette Mi-Chèvre des Bauges
Tommette de l'Aveyron
Torta del Casar
Trappe de Belval
Trappe Echourgnac
Trappiste de Chambaran
Tricorne de Marans
T'yn Grug
Vache des Pyrénées
Vache Frais
Vacherin Mont d'Or
Vacherin du Haut-Doubs
Vacherin du Haut-Doubs
Vacherin d'Abondance Fermier
Vacherin des Bauges
Vacherin Fribourgeois
Vallée de Morzine
Vielle Tomme à la Pièce

tea, some gathered notes, or a history

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.

"Tea and Water give each other life," the Professor was saying. "The tea is still alive. This tea has tea and water vitality," he added, "...Afterwards, the taste still happens... It rises like velvet... It is a performance."
-Jason Goodwin, The Gunpowder Gardens
"Talk and tea is his specialty," said Giles. "He has about five cups of tea a day. But he works splendidly when we are looking."
-Agatha Christie, Sleeping Murder
"And so it continued all day, wynde after wynde, From a room beyond came the whistle of a teakettle. 'Now, you really must join me. I've some marvelous Darjeeling, and some delicious petit fours a friend of mine gave me for Christmas."
-Martha Grimes, The Man with a Load of Mischief
"While we got hotter and thirstier as the heat beat down on us. The somebody would call in a voice full of elation"
-Arthur Godfrey
"'The tea is coming!' ...she may want a martini, but make her drink tea."
-Alice Taylor, To School Through the Fields
"It was as if we were at the heart of a maze. We were overwhelmed by the enormity of the tasks ahead. Mary had given us a bottle of milk and a spoonful of loose tea, and so, unable to decide what to do, we did what all Irish men and women do: we had tea. Suddenly the sun appeared and not for the first or last time we felt it uplifting us and changing everything. It seemed like a holiday."
-Niall Williams and Christine Breen, O Come Ye Back to Ireland
"Talk and tea is his specialty," said Giles. "He has Come along inside... We'll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place."
-The Wind in the Willows
"When all is complete deep in the teapot, when tea, mint, and sugar have completely diffused throughout the water, coloring and saturating it...then a glass will be filled and poured back into the mixture, blending it further. The comes waiting. Motionless waiting. Finally, from high up, like some green cataract whose sight and sound mesmerize, the tea will once again cascade into a glass. Now it can be drunk, dreamily, forehead bowed, fingers held wide away from the scalding glass."
-Simone Jacquemard, Le Mariage Berbere
"My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody."
-Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White
"On the hob was a little brass kettle, hissing and boiling; spread upon the floor was a warm, thick rug; before the fire was a folding-chair, unfolded and with cushions upon it, by the chair was a small folding-table, unfolded, covered with a white cloth, and upon it were spread small covered dishes, a cup and saucer, and a tea-pot; on the bed were new, warm coverings, a curious wadded silk robe, and some books. The little, cold, miserable room seemed changed into Fairyland. It was actually warm and glowing. "
-Frances Hodgson Burnett, Sara Crewe; or What Happened at Miss Minchin's
"He boils milk with fresh ginger, a quarter of a vanilla bean, and tea that is so dark and fine-leaved that it looks like black dust. He strains it and puts cane sugar in both our cups. There's something euphorically invigorating and yet filling about it. It tastes the way I imagine the Far East must taste."
-Peter Hoeg, Smilla's Sense of Snow
"The mug from the washstand was used as Becky's tea cup, and the tea was so delicious that it was not necessary to pretend that it was anything but tea."
-Frances Hodgson Burnett
"A Little's always tea-time... "
-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
"I hope next time when we meet, we won't be fighting each other. Instead we will be drinking tea together."
- Jackie Chan, Rumble in the Bronx
"Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island He brewed his tea in a blue china pot, poured it into a chipped white cup with forget-me-nots on the handle, and dropped in a dollop of honey and cream. He sat by the window, cup in hand, watching the first snow fall. 'I am', he sighed deeply, 'contented as a clam. I am a most happy man."
-Ethel Pochocki, Wildflower Tea
"Cynthia came in quietly and set a cup of tea before him. He kissed her hand, inexpressibly grateful, and she went back into the kitchen. When we view the little things with thanksgiving, even they become big things."
-Jan Karon, These High, Green Hills
"Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. And whoever this "Earl Grey" fellow is, I'd like to have a word with him... "
-Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek, The Next Generation
"Deep Space 9 Pour me a little more tea, would you dear? I can drink it till it comes out of my ears."
-Garek, Star Trek,
"If you are cold, tea will warm you; If you are too heated, it will cool you; If you are depressed, it will cheer you; If you are excited, it will calm you
"Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea! How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea."
-William Gladstone, British Prime Minister.
"My dear, if you could give me a cup of tea to clear my muddle of a head I should better understand your affairs."
-Charles Dickens
"[I am] a hardened and shameless tea drinker, who for twenty years diluted his meals with only the infusion of the fascinating plant; who with tea amused the evening, with tea solaced the midnight, and with tea welcomed the morning.
-Samuel Johnson
"I always fear that creation will expire before teatime."
-Sidney Smith
"The Infusion of a China plant sweetened with the pith of an Indian Cane."
-Joseph Addison
"Ecstasy is a glass full of tea and a piece of sugar in the mouth"
-Alexander Puskin
"I don't drink coffee; I take tea, my dear."
-Sting, An Englishman in New York
"Tea with lemon please"
-Jerry Seinfeld, Seinfeld
China's Tea Culture
People throughout China drink tea daily. Because of the geographic location and climate, different places grow various kinds of tea. In general, there are five kinds of tea classified according to different technique involved in the making of tea:
· Green tea - Longjin · Wulong · Scented tea - Jasmine tea · Black tea · compressed tea.
In the past dynasties, people not only formed a special way of tea-drinking, but also developed an art form called tea-drinking. This art form comprises of many aspects. The most noticeable ones are the making of tea, the way of brewing, the drinking utensils such as tea pot. The art of making tea is called "Cha dao", which was soon accepted as one of the most important cultures that Japan learned from China.
In Hangzhou, there is a tea museum, the only national museum of its kind, in which there are detailed description of the historic development of tea culture in China.
China, the Homeland of Tea
China is the homeland of tea. Of the three major beverages of the world-- tea, coffee and cocoa-- tea is consumed by the largest number of people in the world.
China has tea-shrubs as early as five to six thousand years ago, and human cultivation of tea plants dates back two thousand years. Tea from China, along with her silk and porcelain, began to be known the world over more than a thousand years ago and has since always been an important Chinese export.
At present more than forty countries in the world grow tea with Asian countries producing 90% of the world's total output. All tea trees in other countries have their origin directly or indirectly in China. The word for tea leaves or tea as a drink in many countries are derivatives from the Chinese character "cha." The Russians call it "cha'i", which sounds like "chaye" (tea leaves) as it is pronounced in northern China, and the English word "tea" sounds similar to the pronunciation of its counterpart in Xiamen (Amoy). The Japanese character for tea is written exactly the same as it is in Chinese, though pronounced with a slight difference.
The habit of tea drinking spread to Japan in the 6th century, but it was not introduced to Europe and America till the 17th and 18th centuries. Now the number of tea drinkers in the world is legion and is still on the increase.
Types of Chinese Tea
Chinese tea may be classified into five types of teas according to the different methods by which it is processed.
Green tea
Green tea is the variety which keeps the original colour of the tea leaves without fermentation during processing. This category consists mainly of Longjing tea of Zhejiang Province, Maofeng of Huangshan Mountain in Anhui Province and Biluochun produced in Jiangsu.
Black tea
Black tea, known as "red tea" (hong cha) in China, is the category which is fermented before baking; it is a later variety developed on the basis of the green tea. The best brands of black tea are Qihong of Anhui , Dianhong of Yunnan, Suhong of Jiangsu, Chuanhong of Sichuan and Huhong of Hunan.
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.
Advantages of Tea-Drinking
Tea has been one of the daily necessities in China since time immemorial. Countless numbers of people like to have their after meal tea.
In summer or warm climate, tea seems to dispel the heat and bring on instant cool together with a feeling of relaxation. For this reason, tea-houses abound in towns and market villages in South China and provide elderly retirees with the locales to meet and chat over a cup of tea.
Medically, the tea leaf contains a number of chemicals, of which 20-30% is tannic acid, known for its anti-inflammatory and germicidal properties. It also contains an alkaloid (5%, mainly caffeine), a stimulant for the nerve centre and the process of metabolism. Tea with the aromatics in it may help resolve meat and fat and thus promote digestion. It is, therefore, of special importance to people who live mainly on meat, like many of the ethnic minorities in China. A popular proverb among them says, "Rather go without salt for three days than without tea for a single day."
Tea is also rich in various vitamins and, for smokers, it helps to discharge nicotine out of the system. After wining, strong tea may prove to be a sobering pick-me-up.
The above, however, does not go to say that the stronger the tea, the more advantages it will yield. Too much tannic acid will affect the secretion of the gastric juice, irritate the membrane of the stomach and cause indigestion or constipation. Strong tea taken just before bedtime will give rise to occasional insomnia. Constant drinking of over-strong tea may induce heart and blood-pressure disorders in some people, reduce the milk of a breast-feeding mother, and put a brown color on the teeth of young people. But it is not difficult to ward off these undesirable effects: just don't make your tea too strong.
Tea Production
A new tea-plant must grow for five years before its leaves can be picked and, at 30 years of age, it will be too old to be productive. The trunk of the old plant must then be cut off to force new stems to grow out of the roots in the coming year. By repeated rehabilitation in this way, a plant may serve for about l00 years .
For the fertilization of tea gardens, Soya-bean cakes or other varieties of organic manure are generally used, and seldom chemical fertilizers. When pests are discovered, the affected plants will be removed to prevent their spread, and also to avoid the use of pesticides.
The season of tea-picking depends on local climate and varies from area to area. On the shores of West Lake in Hangzhou, where the famous green tea Longjing (Dragon Well) comes from, picking starts from the end of March and lasts through October, altogether 20-30 times from the same plants at intervals of seven to ten days. With a longer interval, the quality of the tea will deteriorate.
A skilled woman picker can only gather 600 grams (a little over a pound) of green tea leaves in a day.
The new leaves must be parched in tea cauldrons. This work , which used to be done manually, has been largely mechanized. Top-grade Dragon Well tea, however, still has to be stir-parched by hand, doing only 250 grams every half hour. The tea-cauldrons are heated electrically to a temperature of about 25oC or 74oF. It takes four pounds of fresh leaves to produce one pound of parched tea.
The best Dragon Well tea is gathered several days before Qingming (Pure Brightness, 5th solar term) when new twigs have just begun to grow and carry "one leaf and a bud." To make one kilogram (2.2 lbs) of finished tea, 60, 000 tender leaves have to be plucked. In the old days Dragon Well tea of this grade was meant solely for the imperial household; it was, therefore, known as "tribute tea".
For the processes of grinding, parching, rolling, shaping and drying other grades of tea various machines have been developed and built, turning out about 100 kilograms of finished tea an hour and relieving the workers from much of their drudgery.
Tea-Producing Areas
Tea is produced in vast areas of China from Hainan lsland down in the extreme south to Shandong Province in the north, from Tibet in the southwest to Taiwan across the Straits, totaling more than 20 provinces. These may be divided into four major areas:
The Jiangnan area
It lies south of the middle and lower reaches of the Changjiang (Yangtze) River, and is the most prolific of China's tea-growing areas. Most of its output is the green variety; some black tea is also produced.
The Jiangbei area
This refers to a large area north of the same river, where the average temperature is 2-3 Centigrade degrees lower than in the Jiangnan area. Green tea is the principal variety turned out there, but Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, which are also parts of this area. produce compressed tea for supply to the minority areas in the Northwest.
The Southwest area
This embraces Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou and Tibet, producing black, green as well as compressed teas. Pu'er tea of Yunnan Province enjoys a good sale in China and abroad.
The Lingnan area
This area , consisting of the southern provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian and taiwan, produces Wulong tea, which is renowned both at home and abroad.
Tea Culture The author ponders the importance of creating a tea culture, concluding that a retail business that doesn't take the time to build its own level of tea refinement is missing the big picture. When you have succeeded in bringing people together in your tea or coffeehouse, they should remember all the little things - the right advice, the gentle suggestion, the careful selection. -Tomislav Podreka culture, v.t.; 1. to cultivate; to refine; to educate. Almost every country has a tea culture. This truism illustrates the depth, subtlety, philosophy, and artistry of a myriad of societies. The Chinese are strikingly patient with their tea, treating it with the reverence of a 5000-year-old sage. The English regard tea as an inalienable right, a time of day to put aside the stress of the moment and recompose. The United States has only recently looked at tea as a means to an end. Why are Americans changing their tune? Perhaps due to the inherent healthiness of the beverage or the implied peace and balance imparted on tea by cultures throughout the world. A social migration is also occurring, as people immigrating to the U.S. bring with them their security blankets. This is something to which I relate fully, as 1, amongst the huddled masses, arrived from Australia not at Lady Liberty's feet, but at the very alluring Hawaii airport. When I sat down to write this article, I looked up the word culture expecting to find an all-encompassing definition. No one entry, however, suitably defined what I hoped to express. What I found first was the obvious definition of culture as greater than any one thing or interpretation, just as tea is more than any one leaf style or flavor profile. And second, I delighted in the obvious metaphors behind other entries, which aptly illustrate the importance of cultivating and growing not just your business, but yourself, and the way such care will impact your success. So what does a retail culture mean to you, and why is tea such an important purveyor of this particular civility? Culture creates the microclimate within your business. It lends an air of authenticity, originality, credibility, or whatever else you hope to convey. But most of all, it reveals your business persona -- who you are and who your customers perceive you to be. Tea is an important player here because it is a palpable illustration of culture. When you think of the English, you think of afternoon tea. Think of the Japanese and you probably envision the Japanese tea ceremony or a kimono-clad woman serving tea. Walk through Chinatown anywhere in the U.S. and you will see patrons cozying around a table in a restaurant over a pot of tea. All of these traditions feature a common thread -- they bring people together. Q: What do you want to see in your establishment? A: People. Q: What's better than people? A: People bringing other people. culture, n. 1. the act or process of tilling and preparing the earth for crops; cultivation of soil. Sometimes as a cultivator, you are lucky enough to have great soil and produce great fruits year after year. Most of us in business realize this is not often the reality. Cultivating the fruits of our labor requires great care and rigorous preparation without respite. For most of us, to create a place we would like to patronize ourselves is the ultimate ideal (not too daffy a notion considering the amount of time we spend at work). The first step in creating an ambiance and personal culture is to identify the culture you are familiar and comfortable with, and to allow some of the craziness to seep through. That's what makes each and every one of us unique. A few great examples are Tea and Sympathy and Wild Lily Tea Room in New York City. The former was established by a pair of English ex-pats who created a home for themselves with their business. Not afraid to allow their personal quirkiness to shine through, the couple built Tea and Sympathy into a place to be seen. It's extremely popular with both locals and tourists. Wild Lily Tea Room illustrates the careful respect of owner Ines Sun's Taiwanese culture, presenting a picture of serenity, amiability and warmth in a tiny nook. The shop serves tea exclusively and focuses on marvelous oolongs. Two very different tearooms, two very different examples of ethnocentric influence. Tealuxe in Boston quite obviously reflects the proprietor's esoteric love of a particular era and feel -- in this case, the luxury liners of the '30s and '40s -- while capturing the youth and spontaneity of nearby Cambridge and the university scene. Teaism in Washington, D.C., fuses several Eastern cultures in a uniquely western way, conveying the charm of an Indian food vendor/chaiwalla with the amenities of a restaurant and the charm of a bed and breakfast. Locals and I gather daily to soak up the atmosphere simply read the paper while sipping Darjeeling and eating mango chutney. These tearooms may sound like they're stretching to create a tea culture in the U.S. that doesn't exist. But remember settlers in New Amsterdam were drinking tea before Britain. In fact, when English took Manhattan, the island was consuming more tea than the entire United Kingdom! The U.S. has a tea history. It was for the love of tea that U.S. fought for independence. It's up to you to rediscover the U.S. tea culture and build upon it. culture, n. 2. the raising, improvement or development of some plant, animal or product. Do not be afraid to grow with your business. Rome wasn't built in a day, but today we know that when in Rome, do not drive with the natives! That important piece of advice aside, the legends, myths, people, and places of Rome all contribute to the culture that is Roman. You must continue to build your tea culture in similar fashion. Don't put a half-hearted, effort into your shop. The key words in this definition of culture are: raising (of standards), improvement and development. Still water becomes undrinkable. Do not allow your customers to accept the familiarity that leads to boredom. It is as simple as insisting -- in whatever small and subtle way -- on always raising the standard of service, improving the quality of merchandise and developing your business. The Japanese tea ceremony did not become what it is today without the careful yet chaotic combination of time and thought. All things do not always go as planned; sometimes this is for the best. culture, n. 3. improvement, refinement or development by study, training, etc. It's difficult to become the best at what you do -- both in reality and by reputation. It requires fine tuning that is not always apparent. When you have succeeded in bringing people together in your tea- or coffeehouse, they should remember all the little things -- the right advice, the gentle suggestion, the careful selection. All of these details will result from studying your craft, refining according to your business needs and improving because of your love of the business. You must understand your personal culture and the unique way you matured as a person. It will distinguish you from your competitors. This understanding will help establish you as a neighborhood institution. For example, if you serve chai, use a loose-leaf product and add condensed milk. This is closer in form to the masala chai a native of India would drink. Initially this would seem to be nothing but bother and expense. Surprise! Initiative is its own reward. Not only will your product stand out amongst the competition, but it will probably be less expensive and more versatile than a chai concentrate. You could serve tea as Russian rather than Russian tea. Invite people to ask, "What's that about?" Then take the opportunity to quietly and concisely explain that the addition of lemon comes to us from the Russian culture, therefore you can serve any tea as Russian by adding lemon. Create invitations to conversations. Not only will it help expand your patrons' palates, but it will build your esteem in their eyes. I often hear tea and coffee referred to almost as competitors. Absolute rot! One helps the other. Without entrenched coffee businesses, tea would have less of a platform from which to leap. Ironically, tea was introduced in Europe in 1650 via coffeehouses. In England during the late 1600s, most of the establishments were called coffeehouses despite the fact that tea was the beverage of choice. Of course coffee is the inveterate beverage culture in the U.S., but both coffee and tea have their place and moments as we desire them. Understanding and educating yourself about the tangible cultures of tea will open doors to ways of deepening your relationship with coffee, if for no other reason than because you will take time to read more of the myths, legends and history surrounding coffee. Or maybe you'll decide to take a page out of a particular tea ritual and apply it to your coffee presentation. "CULTURE CTREATES THE MICROCLIMATE WITHIN YOUR BUSINESS. IT LENDS AN AIR OF AUTHENTICITY, ORIGINAILTY, CREDIBILITY, OR WHATEVER ELSE YOU HOPETO CONVEY." culture, n. 4. the concepts, habits, skills, arts, instruments, institutions, etc. of a given people in a given period; civilization. Living in the U.S. at this moment is extremely exciting. We are all present during a time when we, as a society, are looking for ways to express our particular identity as a culture. We want to distinguish ourselves from other cultures. The U.S. is a young country still looking for its boundaries and depth. And for these reasons (and many others), tea is here for the long term, destined to forever be a part of U.S. culture. Unlike fads that come and go, tea has a past, present and magnificent future. It is a beverage steeped in substance and thought, and has a vast variety of nuances to satisfy any taste. Tea, unlike other trends, gives us a reason to become attached to and involved with the beverage, with friends who share it with us, and with the people who introduce it to us. Take a little time to think about your business. If you operate it with your heart and soul, you will endear yourself to the hearts and souls of your patrons. Tomislav Podreka is president of Serendipitea, a tea wholesaler and importer based in Ridgefield, Conn. He can be reached at:
There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and talking over its head.
"Take some more tea," the March Hare said to Alice very earnestly.
"I've had nothing yet," Alice replied in an offended tone, "so I can't take more."
Twinkle, twinkle little bat
How I wonder what you're at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea-tray in the sky.
Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) (1832-1898) Alice in
Of historical note, tea is nearly 5,000 years old and was discovered, as legend has it, in 2737 b.c. by a Chinese emperor when some tea leaves accidentally blew into a pot of boiling water. In the 1600s tea became popular throughout Europe and the American colonies. Since colonial days, tea has played a role in American culture and customs. Today American schoolchildren learn about the famous Boston Tea Party protesting the British tea tax -- one of the acts leading to the Revolutionary War. During this century, two major American contributions to the tea industry occurred. In 1904, iced tea was created at the World's Fair in St. Louis, and in 1908, Thomas Sullivan of New York developed the concept of tea in a bag.
Tea breaks down into three basic types: black, green and oolong. In the U.S., over 90 percent of the tea consumed is black tea, which has been fully oxidized or fermented and yields a hearty-flavored, amber brew. Some of the popular black teas include English Breakfast (good breakfast choice since its hearty flavor mixes well with milk), Darjeeling (a blend of Himalayan teas with a flowery bouquet suited for lunch) and Orange Pekoe (a blend of Ceylon teas that is the most widely used of the tea blends).
Green tea skips the oxidizing step. It has a more delicate taste and is light green/golden in color. Green tea, a staple in the Orient, is gaining popularity in the U.S. due in part to recent scientific studies linking green tea drinking with reduced cancer risk.
Oolong tea, popular in China, is partly oxidized and is a cross between black and green tea in color and taste.
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.

The Tea Tradition
The Legendary Origins of Tea.
The story of tea began in ancient China over 5,000 years ago. According to legend, the Shen Nong, an early emperor was a skilled ruler, creative scientist and patron of the arts. His far-sighted edicts required, among other things, that all drinking water be boiled as a hygienic precaution. One summer day while visiting a distant region of his realm, he and the court stopped to rest. In accordance with his ruling, the servants began to boil water for the court to drink. Dried leaves from the near by bush fell into the boiling water, and a brown liquid was infused into the water. As a scientist, the Emperor was interested in the new liquid, drank some, and found it very refreshing. And so, according to legend, tea was created. (This myth maintains such a practical narrative, that many mythologists believe it may relate closely to the actual events, now lost in ancient history.)
The Chinese Influence
Tea consumption spread throughout the Chinese culture reaching into every aspect of the society. In 800 A.D. Lu Yu wrote the first definitive book on tea, the Ch'a Ching. This amazing man was orphaned as a child and raised by scholarly Buddhist monks in one of China's finest monasteries. However, as a young man, he rebelled against the discipline of priestly training which had made him a skilled observer. His fame as a performer increased with each year, but he felt his life lacked meaning. Finally, in mid-life, he retired for five years into seclusion. Drawing from his vast memory of observed events and places, he codified the various methods of tea cultivation and preparation in ancient China. The vast definitive nature of his work, projected him into near sainthood within his own lifetime. Patronized by the Emperor himself, his work clearly showed the Zen Buddhist philosophy to which he was exposed as a child. It was this form of tea service that Zen Buddhist missionaries would later introduce to imperial Japan.
The Japanese Influence
The first tea seeds were brought to Japan by the returning Buddhist priest Yeisei, who had seen the value of tea in China in enhancing religious mediation. As a result, he is known as the "Father of Tea" in Japan. Because of this early association, tea in Japan has always been associated with Zen Buddhism. Tea received almost instant imperial sponsorship and spread rapidly from the royal court and monasteries to the other sections of Japanese society.
Tea was elevated to an art form resulting in the creation of the Japanese Tea Ceremony ("Cha-no-yu" or "the hot water for tea"). The best description of this complex art form was probably written by the Irish-Greek journalist-historian Lafcadio Hearn, one of the few foreigners ever to be granted Japanese citizenship during this era. He wrote from personal observation, "The Tea ceremony requires years of training and practice to graduate in art...yet the whole of this art, as to its 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".
Such a purity of form, of expression prompted the creation of supportive arts and services. A special form of architecture (chaseki) developed for "tea houses", based on the duplication of the simplicity of a forest cottage. The cultural/artistic hostesses of Japan, the Geishi, began to specialize in the presentation of the tea ceremony. As more and more people became involved in the excitement surrounding tea, the purity of the original Zen concept was lost. The tea ceremony became corrupted, boisterous and highly embellished. "Tea Tournaments" were held among the wealthy where nobles competed among each other for rich prizes in naming various tea blends. Rewarding winners with gifts of silk, armor, and jewelry was totally alien to the original Zen attitude of the ceremony.
Three great Zen priests restored tea to its original place in Japanese society:
1. Ikkyu (1394-1481)-a prince who became a priest and was successful in guiding the nobles away from their corruption of the tea ceremony.
2. Murata Shuko (1422-1502)-the student of Ikkyu and very influential in re-introducing the Tea ceremony into Japanese society.
3. Sen-no Rikkyu (1521-1591)-priest who set the rigid standards for the ceremony, largely used intact today. Rikyo was successful in influencing the Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who became Japan's greatest patron of the "art of tea". A brilliant general, strategist, poet, and artist this unique leader facilitated the final and complete integration of tea into the pattern of Japanese life. So complete was this acceptance, that tea was viewed as the ultimate gift, and warlords paused for tea before battles.
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.
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.
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. At 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 Russian 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 throughout a staple. 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 meeting and in newspapers not 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 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".
So dominant was the tea culture within the English speaking cultures that many of these words came to hold a permanent place in our language.
· "Mandarin" (from the Portuguese "mandar" meaning to order) - the court official empowered by the emperor to trade tea.
· "Cash" (from the Portuguese "caixa" meaning case or money box)-the currency of tea transactions.
· "Caddy" (from the Chinese word for one pound weight)-the standard tea trade container.
· "Chow" (from the Indian word for food cargo)-slang for food.
The Opium Wars
Not only was language a problem, but so was the currency. Vast sums of money were spent on tea. To take such large amounts of money physically out of England would have financially collapsed the country and been impossible to transport safely half way around the world. With plantations in newly occupied India the John Company saw a solution. In India they could grow the inexpensive crop of opium and use it as a means of exchange. Because of its addictive nature, the demand for the drug would be lifelong, insuring an unending market.
Chinese emperors tried to maintain the forced distance between the Chinese people and the "devils". But disorder in the Chinese culture and foreign military might prevented it. The Opium Wars broke out with the English ready to go to war for free trade (their right to sell opium). By 1842 England had gained enough military advantages to enable her to sell opium in China undisturbed until 1908.
America Enters the Tea Trade
The first three American millionaires, T. H. Perkins of Boston, Stephen Girard of Philadelphia, and John Jacob Astor of New York, all made their fortunes in the China trade. America began direct trade with China soon after the Revolution was over in 1789. America's newer, faster clipper ships outsailed the slower, heavier English "tea wagons" that had until then dominated the trade. This forced the English navy to update their fleet, a fact America would have to address in the War of 1812.
The new American ships established sailing records that still stand for speed and distance. John Jacob Astor began his tea trading in 1800. He required a minimum profit on each venture of 50% and often made 100%. Stephen Girard of Philadelphia was known as the "gentle tea merchant". His critical loans to the young (and still weak) American government enabled the nation to re-arm for the War of 1812. The orphanage founded by him still perpetuates his good name. Thomas Perkins was from one of Boston's oldest sailing families. The Chinese trust in him as a gentleman of his word enabled him to conduct enormous transactions half way around the world without a single written contract. His word and his handshake was enough so great was his honor in the eyes of the Chinese.
It is to their everlasting credit that none of these men ever paid for tea with opium. America was able to break the English tea monopoly because its ships were faster and it paid in gold.
The Clipper Days
By the mid-1800's the world was involved in a global clipper race as nations competed with each other to claim the fastest ships. England and America were the leading rivals. Each year the tall ships would race from China to the Tea Exchange in London to bring in the first tea for auction. Though beginning half way around the world, the mastery of the crews was such that the great ships often raced up the Thames separated by only by minutes. But by 1871 the newer steamships began to replace these great ships.
Global Tea Plantations Develop
The Scottish botanist/adventurer Robert Fortune, who spoke fluent Chinese, was able to sneak into mainland China the first year after the Opium War. He obtained some of the closely guarded tea seeds and made notes on tea cultivation. With support from the Crown, various experiments in growing tea in India were attempted. Many of these failed due to bad soil selection and incorrect planting techniques, ruining many a younger son of a noble family. Through each failure, however, the technology was perfected. Finally, after years of trial and error, fortunes made and lost, the English tea plantations in India and other parts of Asia flourished. The great English tea marketing companies were founded and production mechanized as the world industrialized in the late 1880's.

Tea Inventions in America: Iced Tea and Teabags
America stabilized her government, strengthened her economy, and expanded her borders and interests. By 1904 the United States was ready for the world to see her development at the St. Louis World's Fair. Trade exhibitors from around the world brought their products to America's first World's Fair. One such merchant was Richard Blechynden, a tea plantation owner. Originally, he had planned to give away free samples of hot tea to fair visitors. But when a heat wave hit, no one was interested. To save his investment of time and travel, he dumped a load of ice into the brewed tea and served the first "iced tea". It was (along with the Egyptian fan dancer) the hit of the Fair.
Four years later, Thomas Sullivan of New York developed the concept of "bagged tea". As a tea merchant, he carefully wrapped each sample delivered to restaurants for their consideration. He recognized a natural marketing opportunity when he realized the restaurants were brewing the samples "in the bags" to avoid the mess of tea leaves in the kitchens.
Tea Rooms, Tea Courts, and Tea Dances
Beginning in the late 1880's in both America and England, fine hotels began to offer tea service in tea rooms and tea courts. Served in the late afternoon, Victorian ladies (and their gentlemen friends) could meet for tea and conversation. Many of these tea services became the hallmark of the elegance of the hotel, such as the tea services at the Ritz (Boston) and the Plaza (New York).
By 1910 hotels began to host afternoon tea dances as dance craze after dance craze swept the United States and England. Often considered wasteful by older people they provided a place for the new "working girl" to meet men in a city, far from home and family. (Indeed, the editor of Vogue once fired a large number of female secretarial workers for "wasting their time at tea dances").
Afternoon Tea Today in the USA
Tea is more popular than ever in America today. Currently, there is a re-awakening of interest in tea as many Americans seek a more positive, healthy lifestyle. Fine hotels throughout the United States are re-establishing or planning for the first time afternoon tea services. Industry research shows there are several major reasons for the new popularity of afternoon tea:
1. Attracts an upscale clientele to the property.
2. Generates additional PR for the hotel.
3. Provides an additional format to conduct business in.
4. Utilizes existing space to generate increased profits.
5. Prompts a high return rate for guests to return to use other hotel services, such as rooms, catering, etc.

Popular tea types for afternoon tea service
Trade Teas
English Breakfast: The prototype of this most popular of all teas was developed over a hundred years ago by the Scottish Tea Master Drysdale in EdInburgh. It was marketed simply as "Breakfast Tea". It became popular in England due to the craze Queen Victoria created for things Scottish (the summer home of Victoria and Albert was the Highland castle of Balmoral). Tea shops in London, however, changed the name and marketed it as "English Breakfast Tea". It is a blend of fine black teas, often including some Keemun tea. Many tea authorities suggest that the Keemun tea blended with milk creates a bouquet that reminds people of "toast hot from the oven" and maybe the original source for the name. It should be offered with milk or lemon. (One never serves lemon to a guest if they request milk-the lemon is never used. It would curdle the milk.) It may also be used to brew iced tea.
Irish Breakfast: The Irish have always been great tea drinkers, and they drink their tea brewed very strong. In fact, there is a common tea saying among the Irish that a "proper cup of tea" should be "strong enough for a mouse to trot on." Along the same line, the Irish believed there were only three types of tea fit to drink. The first and best of quality was in China with the Chinese, of course. The second best was sent directly to Ireland. The third and lowest in quality was sent to the English. Irish Breakfast because of its robust flavor is usually drunk only in the morning (except for the Irish who drink it all day). Usually it is blended from an Assam tea base. Because of its full taste, it is served with lots of sugar (loose is considered correct here-sugar cubes are an English matter) and milk (milk, NEVER CREAM, is served with tea. Cream is too heavy for tea and belongs with coffee. The milk is always served at room temperature, never cold, as it cools the tea too quickly).
Caravan: This excellent tea was created in imperial Russia from the teas brought overland by camel from Asia. Because the trade route was dangerous and supplies unsteady, Russian tea merchants blended the varying incoming tea cargoes, selling a blend rather then a single tea form. It was usually a combination of China and India black teas. Like the Irish, the Russian favored this tea all day long, but modern tea drinkers seem to prefer it at breakfast and with elegant afternoon tea fare. It is served with milk and sugar. Russian are fond of very sweet tea, often adding honey and jam to their national beverage. Lemons studded with cloves may also be offered correctly.
Earl Grey: Earl Grey (1764-1845) was an actual person who, though he was prime minister of England under Wiliam IV, is better remembered for the tea named after him. Tea legends say the blend was given to him by a Chinese Mandarin seeking to influence trade relations. A smoky tea with a hint of sweetness to it, it is served plain and is the second most popular tea in the world today. It is generally a blend of black teas and bergamot oil.
Black Teas and Oolong
Darjeeling: Refers to tea grown in this mountain area of India. The mountain altitude and gentle misting rains of the region, produce a unique full bodied but light flavor with a subtly lingering aroma reminiscent of Muscatel. Reserved for afternoon use, it is traditionally offered to guests plain. One might take a lemon with it, if the Darjeeling were of the highest grade, but never milk. (Milk would "bury" the very qualities that make it unique.)
Oolong: The elegant tea is sometimes known as the "champagne of teas". Originally grown in the Fukien province of China, it was first imported to England in 1869 by John Dodd. Today, the highest grade Oolongs (Formosa Oolongs) are grown in Taiwan. A cross between green and black teas, it is fermented to achieve a delicious fruity taste that makes milk, lemon, and sugar unthinkable. With such clarity, it is perfect for afternoon use with such tea fare as cucumber sandwiches and madelaines.
Green Teas
Green tea makes up only ten percent of the world's produced tea. The Japanese tea service (in which green tea is used), is an art form in and of itself. The serving of a full Japanese tea service would be beyond the ability of most properties and as a result, should not be attempted. Green tea is not generally part of the afternoon tea tradition as appropriate to hotel use.
China Teas
Keemun: Is the most famous of China's black teas. Because of its subtle and complex nature, it is considered the "burgundy of teas". It is a mellow tea that will stand alone as well as support sugar and/or milk. Because of its "wine-like" quality, lemon should not be offered as the combined tastes are too tart.
The American Revolution in Georgia
Tea Act (1773); Tea Party
While Americans fought for liberty, some of the founding fathers may have had a different Liberty in mind. Smuggler John Hancock and his sloop, yes, you guessed it, Liberty, is seized by custom officials on June 10, 1768. Over the next year smugglers like Hancock reduce the amount of tea purchased in the colonies from 320,000 pounds to 520 pounds. Boycotts also affect the amount of imports. By 1772 the East India Company has 18 million pounds of unsold tea in warehouses and 1.3 million pounds sterling of debt. Its largest creditor, the Bank of England, refuses further credit. To save the company, and undercut the smugglers, Britain passes the Tea Act. On behalf of John Hancock & other known smugglers Sam Adams & the Sons of Liberty dumped 342 chests of Tea worth 9,659 pounds sterling & six shillings into Boston harbor.
The Tea Act (1773) once again inflames the radicals, in spite of the fact that it will lower tea prices. If the Americans accept the lower tea prices, they also accept the duties (taxation without representation), and put many of the founding fathers out of business smuggling tea. Throughout the colonies "tea parties" are held where men turn back ships or board them and toss packaged tea into the harbor. Although no "tea party" is held in Georgia (no tea was allocated to Savannah), a party was held at the harbor in nearby Charles Town, South Carolina.
In 1774 the Georgia House of Commons passes a number of resolutions about the relation of England and the colonies in general. In spite of the prior political problems, when the First Continental Congress is convened no one from Georgia attends, for no one is appointed by the House. The Midway district appoints Lyman Hall as its representative, but he does not attend, feeling that he cannot represent the entire state.
Open revolt is brewing. Patriots in Charles Town, South Carolina, essentially block communication with England. They open Governor Wright's letters and replace them with forgeries. The political tension rises to new heights when word of the battles at Lexington and Concord reaches Savannah.
Most of the actions taken by England are aimed at the northern colonies. Since the colonies are not yet a cohesive unit, these do not affect the state of Georgia. However, when Lyman Hall attends the Second Continental Congress in May, 1775, he brings money and supplies with him to aid the rebellion.
The Origin of Tea
First Discovery
According to Chinese mythology, in 2737 BC the Chinese Emperor, Shen Nung, scholar and herbalist, was sitting beneath a tree while his servant boiled drinking water. A leaf from the tree dropped into the water and Shen Nung decided to try the brew. The tree was a wild tea tree. There are many authentic and supposed references to tea in the centuries before Christ, according to the Chinese dictionary dated circa 350 AD. The Chinese t'u was often used to describe shrubs other than tea, hence the confusion when Confucius allegedly referred to tea or t'u when writing about the "sow thistle" plant in the Book of Odes.
From the earliest times tea was renowned for its properties as a healthy, refreshing drink. By the third century AD many stories were being told and some written about tea and the benefits of tea drinking, but it was not until the Tang Dynasty (618 AD - 906 AD) that tea became China's national drink and the word ch'a was used to describe tea.
The spread of cultivation throughout China and Japan is largely accredited to the movement of Buddhist priests throughout the region.
The first book on tea "Ch'a Ching", circa 780 AD, was written by the Chinese author Lu Yu. It comprises three volumes and covers tea from its growth through to its making and drinking, as well as covering a historical summary and famous early tea plantation. There are many illustrations of tea making utensils and some say that the book inspired the Buddhist priests to create the Japanese tea ceremony.
The modern term "tea" derives from early Chinese dialect words - such as Tchai, Cha and Tay - used both to describe the beverage and the leaf. Known as Camellia sinensis, tea is an evergreen plant of the Camellia family. It has smooth, shiny pointed leaves which look similar to the privet hedge leaf found in British gardens.
The Indian and Japanese legends both attribute it to Bodhidharma the devout Buddhist priest who founded Zen Buddhism. The Indian legend tells how in the fifth year of a seven year sleepless contemplation of Buddha he began to feel drowsy. He immediately plucked a few leaves from a nearby bush and chewed them which dispelled his tiredness. The bush was a wild tea tree.

The Tea Plant

Camellia sinensis is indigenous to China and parts of India. The wild tea plant can develop into a tree 30 metres high, so that monkeys were trained to pick the leaves and throw them down for collection below. Today, under cultivation, Camellia Sinensis is kept to a height of approximately one metre for easy plucking purposes. There are more than 1,500 teas to choose from more than 29 different listed countries around the world but the main producers are India and Sri Lanka, Kenya, Malawi, Indonesia and China. It is cultivated as a plantation crop, likes acidic soil and a warm climate with at least 50 inches of rain per annum.
Other factors affecting flavour characteristics are the methods of processing and, of course, the blending together of teas from different areas and regions OR the additions of flowers, fruit, oils, herbs or spices from other plants.
The first mention of tea outside China and Japan is said to be by the Arabs in 850 AD and it was they who were reputed to have brought it to Europe via the Venetians circa 1559. However, it is the Portuguese and Dutch who claim the credit of bringing tea and tea drinking to Europe. The Portuguese opened up the sea routes to China, some say as early as 1515. Jesuit priests travelling on the ships are reputed to have brought the tea drinking habit back to Portugal, while the Dutch sailors manning the ships were said to have encouraged the Dutch merchants to enter the trade, and had set up a regular shipment of tea to ports in France, Holland and the Baltic coast in 1610. England entered the trade via the East India Company, or the John Company as it was known, in the mid to late 17th Century.

The History of Tea in the United Kingdom
The early beginnings of tea in Britain are obscure. The East India Company, under their charter granted by Elizabeth I to the Directors, had the monopoly of importing goods from outside Europe and recorded ships reaching Britain in 1637, but no record of tea dealings with Chinese merchants appears until 1644. Sailors bringing back packets of tea from the Far East as presents, led to its introduction into London's coffee houses.
First Sale
The merchant Thomas Garway was among the first to trade tea in Britain. He offered it in dry and liquid form at his coffee house in Exchange Alley in the City of London, holding his first public sale in 1657.
In 1660, Garway issued a broadsheet selling tea for sale, extolling it (at £6 and £10 per pound) as "wholesome, preserving perfect health until extreme old age, good for clearing the sight," able to cure "gripping of the guts, cold, dropsies, scurveys" and claiming that "it could make the body active and lusty."
First Advertisement
The first tea advertisement - announcing the sale of "China Tcha, Tay or Tee" - appeared on 30 September 1658, in the newspaper Mercurius Politicus, booked by the owner of The Sultaness Head Coffee House. Tea rapidly gained popularity in these establishments and by 1700, was on sale by more than 500 coffee houses in London. Tavern keepers were dismayed as the coffee house vogue swept into being, as was the Government by the decline in the revenues from hard liquor sales.
By the middle of the 18th century, however, tea had replaced ale and gin as the drink of the masses and had become Britain's most popular beverage.
First Tea Laws
In 1675, Charles II forbade by proclamation the sale of tea, coffee, chocolate and sherbert from private houses. Designed to suppress sedition and intrigue, this act was so unpopular that it never became statute law. Six days later he repeated the proclamation. Act XII of 1676 imposed duty on the sale of such beverages and required licences of coffee house keepers: but this also proved impossible to enforce. Taxes on tea nonetheless remained punitive until 1784 when it was reduced by the Commutation Act to counter smuggling into the UK.

British Tea Drinking Customs
Afternoon Tea

Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford, is reputed to have originated the idea of afternoon tea in the early 1800s. She conceived the idea of having tea around four or five in the afternoon to ward off the hunger pangs between lunch and dinner. Some time earlier, the Earl of Sandwich had the idea of putting a filling between two slices of bread. These habits soon became a good reason for social gatherings, and started a trend that is still an integral part of British life.
Tea Gardens
As the popularity of tea spread, it also became an essential part of people's entertainment outside the home. By 1732 an evening spent dancing or watching fireworks in Vauxhall or Ranelagh Gardens would be rounded off by serving tea. Tea gardens then opened all over the country on Saturdays and Sundays, with tea being served as the high point of the afternoon.

Dancing was included as part of the day's festivities, so from the tea gardens came the idea of the tea dance, which remained fashionable in Britain until World War II when they disappeared from the social scene. Tea dances are, however, once again becoming an area of interest.
High Tea
For the working and farming communities, afternoon tea became high tea. As the main meal of the day, high tea was a cross between the delicate afternoon meal enjoyed in the ladies' drawing rooms and the dinner enjoyed in houses of the gentry at seven or eight in the evening. With the meats, bread and cakes served at high tea, hot tea was taken.
Tea Shops
In 1864 the manageress of an Aerated Bread Company shop persuaded her directors to allow her to serve food and liquid refreshments in the shop. She dispensed tea to her more favoured customers and soon attracted many clients clamouring for the same service. Not only did she unwittingly start the fashion for tea shops but also one foundation of women's emancipation, since an unchaperoned lady could meet friends in a tea shop without sullying her reputation. Tea shops spread throughout Britain, becoming as much a tradition as tea itself: and even today, despite the plethora of fast food and drink outlets, this tradition remains, attracting huge numbers of UK and foreign tourists.
Tea Break
Tea breaks are a tradition which have been with us for approximately 200 years. Initially when workers commenced their day at around five or six in the morning employers allowed a break in the morning when food and tea were served. Some employers repeated the break in the afternoon as well. Between 1741 and 1820 industrialists, landowners and clerics tried to put a stop to the tea break maintaining that the imbibing of this beverage made working people slothful. Although it was before the inception of trade unions the workers made a stand and the tea break remains with us to this day.

By the middle of the 18th Century, the tax on tea had reached 119% - much higher than most British taxes today - and naturally enough, was very unpopular among a tea drinking population.
So smuggling into Britain began, to evade taxation. Because of the popularity of tea, many types of people became involved in the smuggling, from farm workers and shop keepers to priests and politicians. Syndicates were formed to help move and sell the smuggled tea all around the country.
Smuggled tea came mainly from Holland and Scandinavia, brought over by Dutch and Scandinavian merchant ships to anchor off English and Scottish coasts.
Taken ashore by fleets of small craft crewed by local fishermen, the tea was smuggled inland, often through underground passages or along hidden pathways. Above ground, carters drove the tea to secret hide-outs for storage in secret passages, under covered trapdoors or behind false walls. Often the best place for storage was the local church!
Even smuggled tea was expensive, however, and by 1777 could cost anything up to 10s 6d (53p) per pound - about one-third of the average weekly wage at that time. Because of this cost, and because tea was both popular and profitable, the practice of adulteration began, even though banned by Act of Parliament in 1725. Black tea had willow, liquorice, elder and sloe leaves added to it or 'smouch' made from ash leaf and sheep's dung! Even old tea leaves, already used and then dried, were mixed with new tea. Adulteration was a highly profitable business in which people were prepared to risk the heavy fines imposed by special laws.
Smuggling continued to increase, so that in 1784 Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger had the Commutation Act passed by Parliament which slashed the tax from 119% to 12.5%. This effectively ended tea smuggling in Britain. Adulteration remained profitable however, and continued until the English Food and Drug Act of 1875 imposed heavy fines or imprisonment against the practice.

The Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party is famous in the history of American Independence. As an early example of American rebellion against British Rule, it represents one of the significant events leading ultimately to the American War of Independence. On 16 December 1773, between thirty and sixty men, disguised as Indians, boarded ships owned by the British East India Company. Once aboard, they smashed open the tea cargoes from wooden chests and threw them overside. Washed up on shore next morning, the cargo was of course worthless. Other ports followed suit: and every patriotic American gave up tea drinking and turned to coffee.
What led to this incident?
To raise money, particularly for military purposes, the British Government would levy tax on imported products such as tea. At that time, tea drinking was as popular in the American colonies as it was in Britain: and in 1773 Americans were outraged by the imposition by Lord North of tax on tea in both Britain and America. This resentment was further fuelled by lack of American representation in the British Parliament, giving rise to the famous slogan "No taxation without representation."
At the same time, the Tea Act of 1773 gave the East India Company the right to ship tea from China directly to America. This was enacted to counter the American practice of buying (and sometimes smuggling) tea in from Holland and even direct from China via the Dutch, a practice which reduced trade for the East India Company. This Act put many American tea importers out of business as they incurred a tax the locals didn't want. The Americans decided that the British had interfered once too often and the Boston Tea Party took place.

The Tea Clippers

Until the mid 1800's, cargo ships including those carrying tea, usually took between twelve and fifteen months to make passage from ports in the East to those in London. East India Company ships, given exclusive control of the tea trade by Act of Parliament in 1832, raced to be the first ships to land tea in Britain.
The Americans were the first to design a new type of clipper. Recognising that the old ships had to carry too much weight, they designed a more streamlined vessel (based on the old Baltimore clippers) capable of carrying greater cargo (providing it was loaded correctly) at a greater speed. The new, faster clipper was born - so called because they were designed to "clip"; or get the last ounce of speed from the wind. The first of these three masted, full-rigged vessels was the 750 ton Rainbow launched in New York in 1845. Every line promised speed - from the sharp, curving stem to the slim, tapering stern, with tall raking masts carrying a huge area of sail. The journey time of the slow East Indian clippers was halved.
The first British built clipper, the Stornaway, was launched for the traders Jardine Matheson in 1850 in Aberdeen. Many others followed: the "Lightning", an American built ship, covered 4.36 sea miles in 24 hours an average of eighteen miles per knot (this according to users), a record at this time and nearly as fast as a modern ocean liner.
Perhaps the most famous clipper ever built was the British clipper Cutty Sark. The Cutty Sark was built in 1868 and only carried tea on just eight occasions.
By the middle of the 19th Century, the races between the tea clippers had become a great annual competition. The race began in China where the clippers would leave the Canton River, race down the China Sea, across the Indian Ocean, around the Cape of Good Hope, up the Atlantic, past the Azores and into the English Channel. The clippers would then be towed up the River Thames by tugs and the race would be won by the first ship to hurl ashore its cargo at the docks. The first cargo home fetched as much as an extra sixpence (2.5p) per 1lb (450g) - and gained a cash bonus for Captain and crew.

Tea's influence on British Boundaries, Commerce and Industry
Very early tea cups had no handles, being originally imported from China where such cups traditionally had no handles. So as tea drinking gained popularity, so did the demand for more British-style tea ware. This fuelled the rapid growth of the English pottery and porcelain industry, which soon became world famous. Most factories making tea ware were located in the Midlands area which became known as "The Potteries".

Tea in two World Wars
In World War I, the German U-boat blockade drastically reduced tea imports into Britain: the ensuing black market led to rationing for civilians and prices were fixed by the Government. Tea rationing in World War II was less drastic, although virtually all other foods were severely rationed. Believed to act as a national morale booster, tea stocks were dispersed in over 500 different locations around the country to minimise the chances of destruction by air-raid. Tea was drunk in vast quantities by civilians and the armed forces: by D-Day, for example, the Royal Navy alone was drinking nearly 4000 tonnes a year.