It is said that the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung had a tea leaf fall into his bowl of hot water way back in 2737BC and enjoyed the taste of the flavoured water so much he started to put the leaves into his water from then on and tea was born.
In 1908 tea bags were invented by accident. A tea trader wanted to give out samples so put a little tea into silk sachets. People didn't realise that they were meant to empty these into the tea pot and put the bag in instead. It worked and tea bags were born!
Iced tea is highly popular in USA and this was again invented by accident in 1904 when a tea trader at the World Fair wanted people to try his tea but as it was a heatwave he was afraid nobody would be interested in a hot drink, so he emptied a box of ice into the brew and that is how iced tea became so popular in USA.
Tea all comes from one type of bush which is properly called Camellia Sinensis. There are four original types of tea and they all come from this plant. The difference in each is just in the way they are processed but they all come from the same plant.
Black tea, green tea, white tea and Oolong tea.
Darjeeling Tea is known as the champagne of teas and comes from bushes grown in an area of 70 square miles at the foot of the Himalayas.
Tea pots were used in Asia and the middle East 11,000 years ago.
Tea reached Europe in the 16th century.
Tea was once very expensive indeed and would be kept under lock and key in special tea caddies. Only the lady of the house would hold the key to this treasure chest.
Some tea is grown in Hawaii and on an island off the coast of USA but most tea is grown in China and India.
Tea was once used as currency in the far East and would be pressed into brick shapes. These bricks were exchanged for goods and change was given by breaking a piece off the tea brick.
In the UK we drink 165 million cups of tea per day!
Tea is good for you up to 4 cups per day.
It takes 2000 tiny tea leaves to make 1lb of tea.
LET'S MAKE A PROPER POT OF TEA
- Use a ceramic teapot and warm it first by sloshing around hot water inside and then poouring it out.
- Heat water till 90 degrees which is just below boiling point. You should only ever boil the kettle once for tea then empty kettle and refill with fresh water before making more tea. This is because tea needs oxygen to brew properly and if you boil water more than once you lose the oxygen and the tea will get a funny metalic taste.
- Pour the water over either loose tea or tea bags. Use one spoon (tea spoon) of tea per person, plus one for the put if you will be adding more water later or like your tea strong. 1 teabag per person.
- Cover the teapot with a tea cosy to keep it warm and let it brew for 3-5 minutes.
- Pour the tea into cups and add milk and sugar or a slice of lemon instead.
- For a mug of tea just pop in one tea bag and let it sit for 2 minutes before you remove the tea bag and add milk or whatever.
MORE FUN FACTS
There used to be a lot of fuss made about when you should add the milk, before the tea or after. The original reason for adding milk first was because porcelain cups were very fragile and would shatter if hot water went in first so you put in milk to cool it down. When manufacturers started improving the quality of porcelain to make it stronger it was more expensive. Richer people with the new cups could pour their tea into the cup first and add milk later. So it became a class thing to say that someone was the sort to put milk in first, meaning they were lower class and couldn't afford the best cups!
Milk being poured in after is sensible as you judge just how much you want depending on the strength of the tea.
Originally tea sets had 2 teapots. One would be used to brew the actual tea itself (warmed first of course) and then this tea would be poured into another warmed pot so that the tea was perfect and wouldn't get any stronger as it does when the tea is left in there.