Can I get you anything? Coffee? Tea? Me? Working Girl (1988): Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith
The beverages Black Tea , Green Tea & Oolong Tea are products of the leaf of Evergreen shrub Camellia sinensis, family Theaceae. Slight variations in the manufacturing process have resulted in our need to identify these beverages specifically. Among the numerous factors instrumental in the popularity of tea was its ability to retain the manifold qualities of the fresh leaves even in the dried form. But it was not only dried Black Tea that first traveled out of China: seeds too were taken to Japan. Though tea was brought into Japan as early as AD 593 by the Japanese Buddhist priests, it was the seeds planted in the Kyoto temple of Japan by the Japanese Zen Buddhist priest Myoan Eisai (AD1141- 1215) that popularized Tea as a beverage in Japan.
Tea takes root in Japan: Tea with Zen
Eisai’s association of Black Tea with Zen Buddhist meditation coupled with imperial contributions towards the cultivation of tea paved the way for the phenomenal popularity of tea in Japan. Having established its status as the national drink of Japan, Black Tea quickly found its place in the spiritual aspect of the Japanese society too. Making & serving tea was elevated into an art form called “Tea Ceremony”. While there are numerous ways in which the tea ceremony is conducted, some of them such as night tea, sunrise tea, evening tea, morning tea, and afternoon tea are firmly established.
Quote Irish-Greek journalist-historian Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), also known as Koizumi Yakumo, one of the few foreigners ever to be granted Japanese citizenship during this era. “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”. Unquote
Black Tea finds a sea-route China to Europe
In 1517, Portuguese seafarers presented their king with a gift of tea brought from China. However, it took almost another hundred years for the Europe to receive a substantial consignment of Tea by way of Dutch ships returning from China. Although Tea was introduced to England, France & Holland in 1600s, the beverage was used basically as a herbal medicine. During the 18th century, most possibly owing to the availability of Caribbean cane sugar at affordable prices, tea established its rightful place among the finest beverages of the world.
Black Tea extends a timely hand towards industrialization
Quote: The World That Trade Created: Society, Culture and the World Economy, 1400 to the Present by Kenneth Pomeranz, Steven Topik
And changes in social life no doubt mattered, too. More & more artisans came to labor in workshops (or in some cases, early factories) separate from their homes; work hours became more regimented, & going home at midday for a long lunch less likely. In such a setting, short breaks that provided a shot of caffeine & sugar became an important part of work routines. And even if these early stirring of industrialization did not quite cause the taste for tea, they certainly benefited from it. Tea, after all, replaced gin & beer as the national drinks in England-early factories were dangerous enough as it was without stupefied workers fumbling about their duties. Had tea & sugar not replaced alcohol as the country’s principal cheap drink & source of supplementary calories), the situation could have been far grimmer yet. Unquote
Tea takes the land route from China to Russia
If the sea voyage from China to Europe was long & treacherous, the land route from China to Russia was no better either. The 16 month journey to & from Moscow consisted of roughly 11,000 miles of barren and mountainous terrain. The first few parcels of dried Black Tea leaves were brought to Russia by Russian Ambassador to China Vasily Starlove in 1638. Though the qualities of Black Tea were appreciated in no time, it was only in 1769 that Russians made a trade agreement with China for the delivery of Black Tea. That was following a gift of Black Tea from China brought in by Russian Ambassador to China Ivan Perfiliev. The long journey from China to Russia having raised the cost of Black Tea, the beverage had remained a luxury item in Russia. However, by the end of the 1700s, Black Tea became an affordable commodity to the Russian peasants.
Tea arrives in the new World
Peter Stuyvesant (1612-1672), the fourth and last Director-General of New Netherlands (1646-1664) is credited with introducing tea to the New World in 1650. The settlers of New Amsterdam (later renamed New York by the English) were known to consume more tea then, than all of England put together. American love affair with Black Tea lasted for 124 years to take a swift turn in the history of the world, if not precisely the history of tea.
The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
In 1774 tea parties were hosted in Philadelphia, New York, Maine, North Carolina, and Maryland. And those were tea parties like no other. In Boston alone, 45 tons of tea brought in by East India Company was unloaded to the waters of the Boston harbor by Sons of Liberty disguised as Native Americans. There was a method in the madness of the mad hatter’s tea party: no ships were damaged. It was the Crown’s tax against Black Tea, a staple of colonial life that spurred the colonists to revolt. Boston Tea Party leading to the American Revolutionary War, the colonists were destined to become the most powerful nation of the world.
The Finest Black Tea in the World: “Ceylon Tea” from Sri Lanka
The finest Black Tea in the World comes from the Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka. The capital of the tea growing zones of Sri Lanka is Sri Lanka Holidays Nuwara Eliya is located in the Central Highlands, the one & only mountain mass of the drop pearl shaped tropical island. Nearly 700 factories in the Central Highlands & the southern zone of the island produce a exceedingly wide range of Black Tea in Sri Lanka still being marketed by the colonial brand of “Ceylon Tea” the world over. Tea auctions are held twice a week in Colombo. Colombo is home to Kelaniya Royal Buddhist Temple, where the Sri Lanka Holidays begins in view of the acclaimed mural therein depicting the landmarks of the 2500 year long glorious history of Sri Lanka.