A brief history about tea and some curiosity.
Tea, one of the oldest beverages in the world. Its history is full of curiosity and mystery. In fact there are many versions that attribute tea birth's dates back to about 5000 years ago, in this or that event.
- Saturday, 31 January 2015
I personally like the version that has it, according to Chinese legend, the Emperor Chen Nung was so obsessed with the respect of hygiene that did not drink anything but boiled water, forcing his subjects to do likewise. But one day, while the Emperor was enjoying a break under the shade of a tree, a light and delicate wind dropped into his cup of some tea leaves, that coloured the water of a golden amber tone. The Emperor was curious to taste the strange drink that fate had been suggested for him, and after few sips he was just in love with it. So he began to cultivate the first plantations of tea in China.
But how this ancied drink arrived in Europe? It is said that the first tea merchants in Europe were Dutch and Portuguese. The first major delivery of tea arrived in Netherlands in early 1600 and then from there it spread throughout Europe, above all in England. It is said that thanks to the marriage celebrated between the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza and King Charles II of UK, the United Kingdom spread the custom of drinking tea among the wealthier classes and then subsequently to all the others. The British, as much as now, were great admirers and consumers of tea, so much that at one point they decided to start their own import of this magnificent plant from China.
There are many traditions and ceremonies associated with this drink. Staying in England, afternoon tea has become a tradition to which many British people don't want to give up. Many hotels, bakeries and restaurants now offer the possibility to have afternoon tea together with small goodness, both sweet and savory. Actually, if you do it in the right place, afternnon tea could becomekind of a real meal, where you won't have dinner after that, for sure. They say that this tradition to accompany tea with sweet and savory pastries, it arises from the fact that in the 19th century meals of the upper classes were served usually very late at night. The Duchess of Bedford then decided to break this long wait serve becoming a sort of small brunch, waiting for the dinner itself: some good tea served with sweet pastry and some small sandwiches.
One of the most famous afternoon teas that you can find in London is the afternoon tea at Ritz Hotel. I enjoyed it a while ago and I must say that thanks to the excellence of the high quality products used and the absolutely wonderful location, it's a place I recommend if you'd like to enojoy this extraordinary experience.
Another curiosity about tea is linked to the way in which it is prepared in Japan, a real experience to do: “The tea ceremony”, one of the most ancient Japanese traditions to prepare a cup, or more, of Matcha tea. Tea ceremony in itself is quite a mystical thing. Your eyes will be captured by the harmonious movements of the expert hands of the person designated for the preparation of tea, while with infinite delicacy move here and there cups, teapots and pieces of linen, without making any single noise.
And remember, as George Orwell said in his article "A Nice Cup of Tea" published on the Evening Standard on 12th of January 1946: “ I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tea-lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.”