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History of Tea

 

Part 2

Tea first arrived in Paris in 1636 and a famous gossip and letter writer, Madame de Sevigne wrote about a friend of hers who was tired of breaking her precious tea ware due to the heat of the water, and one day added cold milk prior to the tea. The dishes did not break and the addition of milk to tea was born.

Interestingly, Great Britain, known as a tea-loving nation, was not familiar with tea until about 1652. As in Holland, the royal family had to provide the stamp of approval for tea to gain nationwide acceptance. In 1662, King Charles 11 married the Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza. Princess Catherine was said to be a tea addict and she brought a large tea chest as part of her dowry. Her influence made tea the beverage of choice in English high society. Tea became very popular, but it was extremely expensive so tea leaves were kept in a locked caddy. Tea was locked in a caddy throughout Victorian times as well, so the servants couldn’t steal it. (By the way, in Victorian times, once the masters of the house drank the first brew, the servants would make tea for themselves from the used leaves and then sell the twice used leaves at the back door to vendors.) The vendors would press the used leaves into tea cakes.  They would sell these cakes to people who could only afford to spend a penny or two for the tea, and that’s where the phrase “Tea for two” came from…the cost was “tea for two pence”.

Tea Gardens became popular with the English in the 1600′s. They took the idea from the Dutch tavern garden teas and embellished it. Ladies and Gentlemen would take their tea outdoors and were entertained by orchestras, flowered walkways, concerts, games, fireworks, etc. The Tea Gardens were the first time that women could mix freely with men and with all social classes. Tipping for good service started in the English Tea Gardens. Locked wooden boxes were placed on the Garden Tables. Inscribed on the boxes were the letters T.I.P.S – TO INSURE PROMPT SERVICE. Customers would drop a coin into the box to insure that the waiters hurried to bring the tea hot from the distant kitchen.

Since tea was so popular in Britain, the government decided to profit by putting heavy taxes on tea, up to 119% Unfortunately, this backfired because it created a huge organized smuggling industry in the 18th century. Millions of pounds of tea were smuggled into Britain and obviously there was no quality control so a lot of the tea was adulterated. Leaves from other plants or used tea leaves were added to fresh tea leaves. Sometimes the colour was not convincing enough so anything from sheep’s dung to poisonous copper carbonate was added to make it look more like tea.

In 1784, the government dramatically lowered tea taxes which ended the smuggling. 

Several wars were started because of tea. By the mid-1700′s tea was so expensive and so popular in Britain that importing tea from China was creating a burden on the currency reserves in England. Since India was a British Colony, opium from India was smuggled into China by British Merchants to help pay for the tea exports to Britain. When the Chinese destroyed the opium, it started the opium wars between Britain and China. Britain won these wars and this lead to the Chinese opening more ports to trade tea with the world.

Tea didn’t come to America until 1690. Tea Gardens opened in New York City, and by 1720, the tea trade was based in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. In the U.S., tea made history when there was a fight over the high taxes levied on British tea after England’s French and Indian war. In 1773, a group of radicals disguised as Indians dumped hundreds of pounds of British tea into the Boston Harbour to protest high taxes. This was known as the Boston Tea Party, and eventually led to the American Revolution and American Independence.

In the 1800′s, Tea Plantations sprung up in the American south and America became the biggest importer of tea due to the faster clipper ships and the ability to pay its debts in gold.

 to be continued….

Join us for our traditional high tea and enjoy a cup of your favourite tea!



History of Tea

 

Part 1 

Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world after water.
The history of tea is long and convoluted, starting in China and working its way around the world causing revolutions in taste, lifestyle and politics.The discovery of tea actually influenced world history.

So where did tea originate? Who discovered tea? The honest answer is no one knows for sure. The most popular legend, however, takes us back to the year 2737 B.C. Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was a gifted herbalist and scientist. He was smart enough to insist that all drinking water be boiled for the sake of hygiene. One day, the Emperor and his servants stopped to rest and boil some water when they were out for a walk. Some dried leaves from a nearby tea bush blew into the water and the water turned brown. The emperor tasted the water, for scientific purposes, and exclaimed, “This is delicious”. According to legend, this is how tea was born.

Tea consumption spread throughout China and by the time of the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD), tea was the national drink in China. In 780 AD, a famous Chinese scholar by the name of Lu Yu wrote the first definitive book on tea called the Cha Ching. He wrote about tea cultivation and preparation in ancient China.

Interestingly, even at that early time, additives were added to tea to create different flavours.  The ancient Chinese added, ginger, orange peel or peppermint as flavourings. It was also a custom to boil tea with onions. Lu Yu recommended that people always add salt to their tea, which we would consider strange today. Lu Yu also said that tea should always be consumed in an atmosphere of tranquility, so you shouldn’t make tea when you’re fighting with someone.

With the advent of Lu Yu’s book, tea became extremely popular in China and in 800 AD; tea began to be commercially cultivated.

In 1191, a Zen Buddhist missionary – Priest Yeisei, bought tea seeds from China to Japan, and he thought that the preparation of tea would enhance religious meditation. So tea in Japan instantly got approval from the royal family and monasteries, and spread throughout Japanese society. In Japan, the preparation of tea was elevated to an art form. The “Japanese Tea Ceremony” actually originated in China, but it died out there and was continued in Japan. It actually takes years to master the Tea Ceremony which is very complicated. Later, tea houses in which Japanese Hostesses, “the geisha” practiced the tea ceremony became very popular.

Another missionary, a Portuguese Jesuit Priest was the first European to try tea and he brought it back to Lisbon in 1560. It was the Portuguese and Dutch traders who first imported tea to Europe. In 1602 the Dutch East India Trading Company was formed and by 1610, regular shipments were going to France, Holland, and the Baltic countries.

Tea first came to Russia in 1618 when the Chinese embassy presented tea to the Czar. The Czar refused it as being a useless beverage, nevertheless tea eventually grew popular in Russia. In the late 1600′s, caravan trading began between China & Russia. Russians would trade their furs for Chinese tea. The horse and camel caravan journey took about a year and it was here that tea would be infused at night with smoke from the camp fires – so smoky teas like Lapsang Souchong and Russian Caravan were born. They are very strong teas with a strong smoke fragrance and flavours.

Tea became very fashionable in Holland, but because it was terribly expensive – over $100 per pound in the early 1600′s – it was only available to the wealthy. By 1675, the prices came down a bit, but it was still a luxury item. In Holland, tavern owners had to have a license to sell tea and got into the habit of serving teas outdoors in their gardens on portable tea sets with a heating unit, so people could enjoy tea outside in the tavern’s garden.

to be continued….

Join us for our traditional high tea and enjoy a cup of your favourite tea!



Spiced BBQ Chicken with Grilled Peaches

This is a great summer time recipe that’s light, healthy, and delicious!

4 skin on chicken supremes
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon clove
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tablespoon honey
2 sprigs of thyme Chopped

Marinate Chicken in above ingredients for 4 hours. Take 2 peaches, cut in half and remove pits, marinate in 3 oz. of Birch Syrup or Maple Syrup. Remove Chicken and drizzle with Olive Oil. Grill Chicken on a Medium heat grill until160 degrees in the center of the chicken. Grill peaches till soft Serve Chicken with peaches on top and your favorite salad.

ENJOY!



A Salute to Big Bands

 

big band is a type of musical ensemble that originated in the United States and is associated with jazz and the Swing Era typically consisting of rhythm, brass, and woodwind instruments totalling approximately 12 to 25 musicians. Whew, glad we got that sorted out of the way.

Jazz began in New Orleans in the early 1900′s. Steamboats using the Mississippi helped spread the sound of jazz as many of the New Orleans jazz bands performed as entertainment on the boats. In the 1920′s, the music of jazz began developing into a big band format combining elements of ragtime, black spirituals, blues, and European music. Some of the more popular early big bands included band members that would become future jazz stars and future big bandleaders such as Coleman Hawkins, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Red Allen, Roy Eldridge, Benny Carter, and John Kirby.

When the depression hit the U.S. in 1929 the entire music business suddenly failed. The decline in record sales, coupled with the closure of speakeasies and jazz clubs after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, forced many jazz musicians to move to New York or other highly populated cities and seek work at dancing venues in large ballrooms. Swing bands played a large part in people’s lives in the late 30′s as people tried to shake off the depression by dancing and while records and radio made swing music widely available, this mediated music soon inspired fans’ the desire to experience their favorite swing live.  

Big Bands still hold a special place in the hearts of many as it is a positive and optimistic music and an inspiration during one of the more difficult periods of American History. No person living at the time was not touched in some deep way by it as it helped guide them through the Great Depression, World War II and the post-war recession.  Swing music fulfilled the yearning for a sentimental, romantic escape from the mundane and at the same time was appreciated for its excitement and even as fine art. 

Today more than fifty years later the sounds of swing band music can be heard and one of the most exciting big bands is The Toronto All-Star Big Band. They revive the spirit, style and sound of 1930s and ’40s and are performing at the Old Mill Toronto Dance Hall with tributes to  Glen Miller on September 7th, Benny Goodman on October 5th, and Tommy Dorsey on November 23rd.

Remember, It Don’t Mean a Thing, If It Ain’t Got That Swing”!



Health Benefits of Tea

Part 6 0f 6 

White Tea Boosts Stimulating Brain Waves
Even though white tea has the lowest level of caffeine of all the teas, it has the highest amount of L-theanine, an amino acid that perks you up naturally. L-theanine stimulates the production of alpha brain waves that makes you more focused and mentally alert.

Green Tea Protects Your Eyes
A study in the “Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry” says that Green Tea Protects your eyes. The Antioxidants in tea are absorbed by eye tissue helping to protect against glaucoma and other degenerative eye diseases. Since green tea has been proven to protect your heart and help prevent cancer, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is now testing green tea’s ability to fight Parkinson’s disease.

Black Tea Absorbs Heavy Metals
Fish is healthy and full of important omega – 3 fatty acids which help with everything from arthritis, to heart disease, to dementia. Were advised to eat fish twice a week but the problem is fish is also a source of mercury and other unhealthy heavy metals which are bad for the heart and blood vessels. Researchers at Perdue University did studies on tea and its ability to bind heavy metals like iron, lead and mercury. They found that the best inhibitor of mercury absorption in the stomach was BLACK TEA. Drinking Black Tea while you’re eating the fish  will help prevent up to 92% of mercury from entering your bloodstream.

Tea Tips 
The University of Iowa says that you can double the concentration of antioxidants if you dunk the tea bag up and down a few times instead fo letting it steep slowly. By the way, tea bags usually release more antioxidants than loose tea because the leaves are chopped up and there is more surface exposed to the water.

Never put milk in green tea. Green tea contains an antioxidant, EGCG and the casein protein in milk will bind with that and make it less effective. You can use soy or almond milk in tea which does not have casein.

The best thing to add to all teas is citrus. Squeezing lemon, lime or orange into tea increases the absorption of catechins by up to 80 %. Catechins are antioxidants that have lots of health benefits like shrinking belly-fat cells. The vitamin C in citrus stabilizes these antioxidants until they’re properly absorbed.

Weight Loss
Finally, one last tip… one very effective way to cut down on cravings for fattening desserts is to drink a tea similar to the taste you are craving. Everything from chocolate teas, to licorice, to vanilla hazelnut, to coconut cinnamon teas are available. If you explore a bit in ethnic area stores or European supermarkets, you’ll find a vast array of exotic flavours. Now if you drink a hazelnut or chocolate tea and add a bit of 5% cream to make it thicker, like a chocolate tea milkshake, it will probably cut your dessert cravings down with minimal calories and lots of health benefits.

In conclusion, I just want to encourage you to drink as much tea as possible…whether you like black, green, white or oolong…and be creative with your tea… add citrus peels, orange, lime, lemon juices and peel will add to your body’s absorption of healthy enzymes from the teas. Throw a bunch of fresh mint leaves into your hot or cold green or white teas, or add fresh sage leaves into your hot tea. Have fun and be creative!

Join us for our traditional high tea and enjoy a cup of your favourite tea!



Health Benefits of Tea

Part 5 0f 6 

Diabetes
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research centre has found that drinking black, green and particularly oolong tea improves blood glucose control both in diabetics and people without the disease. If you stir a half teaspoon of cinnamon into your tea, the combination significantly boosts the effectiveness of insulin to keep blood sugar levels from rising too high.

Food Poisoning
If you suspect food poisoning, couple black tea with a few pieces of burned toast, says the National Institute of Whole Health. The tannic acid in tea and charcoal in the toast will neutralize the toxins and help you get much better very quickly.

Heart Disease
Harvard University studies have shown that black tea drinkers have a 44% reduced risk of having a heart attack compared to non-tea drinkers. Research at the University of North Carolina confirmed that 12 different studies looking at tea consumption in a quarter million people found that those who drank tea have less incidence of heart attack. Tea appears to act on LDL, which is bad cholesterol by keeping cholesterol from being metabolized in a way that would clog the arteries and cause stoke.

Immune Strength
Pace University in New York found that all teas, even commercial ice teas like Snapple, Nestea & Arizona killed or inactivated certain viruses on contact. Their research showed that black tea can kill human viruses including cold, flu, and herpes simplex 1 and 2.

Kidney Stones
Investigators at China’s Sichuan University found that a compound in green tea binds with calcium oxalate to help prevent and reduce the size of painful kidney stones.

Stress
When you are under stress, your adrenal glands produce a hormone called “Cortisol”. Cortisol increases blood sugar and fat formation especially belly fat which is the most dangerous type of fat. Cortisol also suppresses your immune system. According to a new University College study from London, England, cortisol levels of regular black tea drinkers fell 47% within one hour after completing a stressful task.

Weight Loss
If you want to loose weight, studies have shown that 5 cups of tea a day boosts metabolism by up to 5%, and it’s not the caffeine that’s doing it – it’s the catechins and polyphenols in tea. One study showed that green tea may reduce fat absorption from your diet by as much as 30%. Japan’s University of Tokushima reported that people who drank oolong tea had a fat burning rate that was 12% higher than people who didn’t drink oolong. 

to be continued… in the mean time join us for a cup of your favourite tea!