There is more to tea than you think. For example, you may think of tea as a quintessentially British drink, but tea drinking began in China, long before the English even knew it existed. Check out
The Legend of Tea
In 2737 BC, the Chinese emperor, Shen Nung – a renowned herbalist – discovered tea when some leaves from a tree blew into his boiled drinking water. That tree was Camellia sinensis, the tree from which all tea comes.
Thomas Sullivan invented tea bags accidentally in 1908 when he gave out tea samples in silk bags to his customers. Some of them put the silk bags directly in the teapot, instead of emptying the tea leaves out. And so tea bags were born!
Different Tea – Same Origin
There are four types of tea – black, green, white and oolong – but they all come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The differences in the tea are a result of how the tea is treated.
Rooibos Tea – South Africa’s Iconic Beverage
Rooibos first entered the history books in 1772 when Swedish naturalist, Carl Thunberg noted that the "country people made tea" from the needle-like leaves of the wild rooibos plant. In 1930, District Surgeon Dr Pieter Le Fras Nortier (accepted as the father of rooibos) cultivated the first rooibos plants, and thanks to his research, it became a globalised commodity.
Milk or Water First?
In the past, it was customary to pour the milk into a teacup first, to protect the delicate china from cracking. This is clearly not needed anymore, and connoisseurs say it’s better to pour the milk in after the tea because it’s easier to judge how much is required.
The World of Tea
Tea is the national drink of Iran and Afghanistan. Britain is the second largest nation of tea drinkers per capita. Ireland is the first. China is the world’s largest producer of tea, followed by India.
High Tea Extravaganza
How expensive can High Tea be? Well, if you’re living in or visiting Hong Kong, very! The Ritz Carlton of Hong Kong has the world’s most expensive High Tea meal at a staggering $8,888 per couple.
High Tea or Low Tea?
The Duchess of Bedfordshire, one of Queen Victoria’s ladies in waiting, is credited with the invention of English Afternoon Tea. In those days, there was a long gap between mid-morning breakfast and supper at 8pm. To alleviate her afternoon slump, she took a light meal in the afternoon and invited her friends to join in. Soon, it became a social meal known as low tea. High tea, on the other hand, was a predominantely working class meal enjoyed between 5 and 7 pm.
The British Standard
The British take their tea seriously. So seriously, in fact, that they created the British standard for the perfect cup of tea. To meet the standard, you need a pot made of porcelain and at least two grams of tea for every 100 ml of water. The temperature can’t go beyond 85 °C; but should never drop below 60 °C for optimal flavour and sensation.
The Champagne of Tea
Genuine Darjeeling tea is grown in an area of India at the foot of the Himalayas that’s less than 70 square miles in size. Because there is only so much tea you can get out of this region, Darjeeling is highly prized and is known as the champagne of teas. How romantic!
The Agony of the Leaves
You know that moment when you pour hot water over tea leaves and they unfurl? There is a name for that moment, and it’s called the Agony of the Leaves. Isn’t that something?
Fresh Water Required
Did you know that you should always use fresh water when you make tea? Previously boiled water has lost oxygen which can make your tea taste flat.