Tea Time History

What is more delightful than curling up on a winter day with hot tea and a good book? Or hosting a proper tea party outside on a glorious spring day? How about sipping iced tea on a softly swaying porch swing? Tea down through the ages has been a sign of the well bred and refined. Tea is surrounded with mystery and is one of the healthiest drinks you can consume.

Did you know that tea originally came from China? There are many stories about how the leaves of the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis, was found to be tasty when brewed in hot water!

(Camellia Sinensis)

Tea history has been intriguing ever since. The British were the first to have a regular, daily teatime. The story goes that the Duchess of Bedford, Anna Russell, was the inventor of this wonderful pastime. Dinner was served very late in the Duchess’ day. As late as 7:00 or 8:00! Duchess Anna experienced a ‘sinking feeling’ mid-day and decided to have tea and cake brought up to her rooms. Her ladies-in-waiting joined her and thus began the regular teatime.

On the other side of the pond, here in America, tea made history! The Boston Tea Party as it came to be known was quite a way to get the British people’s attention! 100 angry colonists dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston harbor as an act of defiance against a high tax on tea that the British government had placed on them. This was one of many incidents that lead to the American Revolution. Even patriotic colonial women refused to drink the British tea and instead drank ‘Liberty Tea’, made of red raspberry leaves.

Teatime is a very enjoyable activity that is fun to bring back. Teatime does not have to be at four o’clock in the afternoon precisely, but can be enjoyed now a days just about any time you chose! High tea and low tea are two good terms to remember if ever you are asked to tea. High tea is usually like dinner served around 5 or 6 o’clock. Low tea is also called afternoon tea and is usually served at the traditional time of 4.

And what about the wonderful little leaf itself? Well, there are so many teas today that it will not be hard to find a favorite! The word ‘tea’ usually refers to black, green, white, or oolong teas.  This is tea made from the actually tea leaves. Herbal teas may contain no tea at all and are sometimes called ’tisanes’.

So now, you know a little about tea and its history! There is so much more to learn, though. You might want to dig a little deeper into tea history, tea cultivation, how the tea leaves are turned into something we can enjoy, and proper tea etiquette. Tea is a fascinating topic! Now, why not grab a cup and enjoy?

George Dunlop Leslie, Tea, (exhibited 1894)

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