The Origins Of British Tea Traditions

by Elena Popec 6. April 2010 21:21

 

Loose Leaf Tea

The origin of tea traditions of England is obliged to one of the most beautiful women in the middle of XVII century. In 1662 Charles II married princess Catherine of Braganza from Portugal. The Portuguese had been the first Europeans that encountered tea, controlled the trade routes from Asia and drank this wonderful beverage. Chest with tea leaves, among other treasures was in bride’s dowry. According to tradition, the new queen’s passion for tea was appreciated in court, and soon became the most popular drink in the chambers of Buckingham Palace. Inventive British replaced the eastern bowls for cups and saucers and used tea spoons for sugar that also entered into vogue in the XVII century.

The British aristocracy recognized only the tea from the youngest and most succulent of the upper leaves, which are called "Orange Pekoe". "Orange" comes from the Dutch word meaning "gold, royal, belonging to the Dutch royal House of Orange-Nassau," and "Pekoe" - from the Chinese word "leaf". Because The Dutch East India Company played a central role in introducing tea to Europe, perhaps, they could have marketed the tea as "Orange" to propose a royal warrant. However, in modern classification of common tea leaf grades "Orange Pekoe" stands for "royal leaf".

The real revolution in the tea business actually began in 1837 with the ascension to the throne of the young Queen Victoria. China was unable to meet the increased demand in Europe and began to supply the market with product of insufficient quality. At the time, relations between Great Britain and China had escalated. In response to the British sanctions, China has imposed an embargo on trade with Britain. But the decisive Queen Victoria signed a decree of establishing the state tea company in the British colony - the North Indian province of Assam. Mayor of the Royal Guard, Robert Bruce and his brother Charles crossed breeded seeds smuggled out of China with local tea trees. Thus was launched a completely new variety with bright color and a strong astringent taste. In memory of those events, one of the types of English tea from Assam is named "Victorian".

By the middle of the XIX century, Britain became the largest tea supplier, capable of providing not only the needs of the empire, but also neighboring countries. The Assam black tea from the Indian colony of Great Britain, Russians merchants carried by caravans and sold in the capital's shops, "colonial goods" under the name "Indian tea". Taste of Assam for Russians still is the most familiar and traditional.

In XX century, the British voluntarily renounced the former "tea" colonies and focused the effort on improving the quality of tea blends. This act has reflected on a nation-wide British love for tea. Continuing the Victorian tradition, modern tea masters - tea testers - offer demanding connoisseurs of tea a wide variety of traditional and exotic flavors. English tea has long gone beyond the United Kingdom, and in many countries today, tea lovers enjoy impeccable taste, intelligence and respect for people.

 

Tea Traditions

by Steven Popec 3. January 2010 17:21

The Tea Ceremony - Enjoy the variability of the world

There are various traditions of tea ceremonies in different cultures. Every nation, every region and even families have their traditions of making this wonderful drink. The cult of tea in the East belongs to Japanese, in the West - to English. Tea rituals help a person to concentrate and reflect on spirituality, to see the unexpected in the usual, to understand the unknown in the known, set to a tide of nature and the universe, to find peace and harmony in your soul. Drinking tea requires vigilance at all stages of interaction with product, since the cultivation and collection of leaves to water and its selection, connection with the fire in the cooking process of boiling water.


In England, tea drinking is an old and much respected tradition which includes communication that often is very formal. The British, which are wonderful people, they contrive to get the pleasure of formal communication, if it happens over a cup of tea.

In Russia, people drink tea for the sake of conversation. Russian tea drinking ceremonies, tea is the drink of friendship. There is nothing more important than company enjoying this traditional drink sitting around a samovar.

The Japanese prefer to enjoy the world outside edge of everyday life. Therefore, for the tea ceremony, they create a special world: a tea garden with a special path that leads to a tea house, with a room for tea drinking ceremonies. The Japanese tea ceremony is not so much about the taste of tea, but the taste of Zen. Japanese tea rituals are extremely complicated and refined. There are special ritual acts, dishes, and even space. Japanese tea ceremonies are analogous to cultic action and have philosophical and authentic characters.

Basics Japanese Philosophy of Tea:

• worship of beauty;
• dream of good in an imperfect world full of evil;
• subordination to the laws of charity in the relations between human beings;
• tea - is pleasure without excess, is uniquely valuable without the high cost,  is nature and harmony, hospitality and peacefulness;
• tea - is healthy because it prompts to clean;
• tea - is frugality, because learning to find comfort in the simple and modest;
• tea - is moral geometry, determining the optimal form of a combination of personal interests with the interests of others.

The Chinese tea ceremony allows enjoying the taste of tea. Gong Fu Cha (called the ceremony - higher skill tea) reveals the variability of the world through the variability of the taste of tea. It helps to take the one and another variation of the reality, as a fact. When the higher level of concentration is reached, and then during the tea ceremony can be felt as the world is changing with each passing second, as the grass grows and a tree leaf develops. The ceremony tunes on a philosophical mood, calms nerves, and becomes the true relaxation from the harsh realities of everyday life. Moreover, it provides an opportunity to accept these harsh realities with an open heart and even reduce their severity. They are only parts of the overall variability of the world, and, hence, will change soon. So what's the worry?

Tea in the Gong Fu Cha has four precious things: a form of the leaf, the color of this, the scent of tea, and the taste of tea. Tea ceremony is constructed so that participants can assess all four of treasures and enjoy them.

This tea ceremony is human life in a miniature form. It is not surprising that the East is given the value of tea and rituals, associated with it. After all, tea ceremonies help not only to understand and take the variability of the world, but enjoy it just as volatile flavor tea.

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