My earliest memory of drinking tea was when I was a child and I was taken on a special visit to Lion’s Corner House in London. My eyes were stunned at the place of cream cakes, stacked on a silver 3-tier cake stand, and small sandwiches wonderfully cut into all sorts of shapes, waiting to be devoured by my insatiable appetite. When the waitress arrived, dressed in her starched white cap and black dress, with a white lace apron, I sat very calm and contemplated what cream cake I was going to eat. Before I could get that far, however, there was an adult discussion about what kind of tea we would have. My mother opted for the English breakfast, but my grandmother decided that we would have her favorite “Earl Gray”.
It’s hard to imagine that tea was once considered unpleasant and unhealthy in England, and it was also heavily taxed, but Queen Elizabeth saw tea as a very profitable investment. He chartered the East India Co. in 1600 and gave him a monopoly on trade in the East. For more than 250 years, the company was a key player in the rise and fall of the British colonial empire.
The queen introduced tea as a breakfast drink to replace beer. The idea that tea could accompany food was quite abhorrent to some, they even added salt and spices. The ignorant few decided to chew the leaves! It wasn’t until the Duchess of Bedford devised a tea ceremony in the mid-18th century that tea became an English institution. At the end of the 17th century, tea was the national drink of England. Tea gardens abounded in many places, where the drink became an excuse to meet friends and perhaps lovers!
Until that time, China had been England’s only source of tea, but East India co. discovered the Indian tea plant in the early 18th century, however the obsession with growing Chinese tea prevailed, but China was unwilling to reveal any secrets about the propagation and drying methods that had been kept for centuries behind the Big Wall. India tried to tell the company that its native herb was worth all the tea in China, but the company stubbornly insisted on planting the Chinese seeds.
By the end of the 19th century, the East India Company had produced approximately 170 million pounds of tea, three-quarters of which kept the English busy in boiling water!
In the early 1900s, something happened that changed the way the Western world viewed tea. In 1904, the St. Louis World’s Fair took place on a very hot day in a humid summer. Indian tea producers had taken over a booth to advertise their product, but no one seemed interested in the hot, steaming beverage, until someone poured the tea into an ice glass, now people flocked to the stall to quench their thirst. with this. new concoction, and Americans still prefer their iced tea today.
I hope to bring you more information about tea, in a later ezine.
In the meantime, always remember to bring the kettle to the kettle and not the other way around !!