British Tea

The Dark Side of the Cup

The Dark Side of the Cup is a campaign on Kickstarter seeking funding for a mockumentary film celebrating tea and it's penchant for addicting those who consume it.

The film looks like an interesting project, and one I would love to see come to fruition.

There's not much time left for the campaign though, so definitely get crackin' if you'd like to help!

Some of the Kickstarter rewards are pretty humorous, like a limited edition teabag, or dunking a biscuit on your behalf (yes, the filmmakers are Brits).

Head on over and check out the Kickstarter Campaign.

Tea 201 - Origin - Where Tea is Grown

Tea Origin by Percentage (c.o. Wikipedia.org)

Tea Origin by Percentage (c.o. Wikipedia.org)

It would not be a proper lesson on tea without sitting down and discussing the origin of tea.  Where is it grown?  More importantly where can it grow?

Let’s start with tea’s origin.  Where did it originally come from?

Originally its natural form was believed to have originated in China.  The most celebrated of teas come from the area of China known as “The Golden Triangle.” This area is found between the mountains of Huang Shan, Mogan Shan, Qi Shan and Tianmu Shan.

In the country of Taiwan, it is well known for its oolong teas.

India has grown in popularity due its Assam teas (which are grown in the Brahmaputra valley) and Darjeeling teas (which is grown in the ex-British hills of the Himalayas).  Darjeeling teas are known as the “Champagne of teas.”

This also spreads into Nepal.  In their side of the Himalayas, they have their own tea that resembles Darjeeling.

Sri Lanka is the source of the famous and fragrant Ceylon tea.  The principle growing regions of this country are Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula and Uva.

Of course, we can never forget Japan renowned for its green sencha, courser bancha and matcha.

But that’s just the Asian countries.

Tea growing has also made its way to East Africa to the countries of Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania.   These countries have made a dent in the mark by way of making large quantities of black teas.  However, they have not been able to deliver the same quality of Chinese Yunnan or Indian Darjeeling.

But it does not stop there.  Tea growing has also spread to the Americas to the following countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and the good old USA.

Tea has spread all over the world and it will continue to do so as it continues to also grow in popularity.

Pretty cool, no?

Tea 201 - English Tea

While the English are known for drinking copious amounts of tea, we all know by now that they did not invent the leaf.  So…how did the leaf migrate from Asia to the British Isles?

Tea first reached Europe by the way of Dutch and Portuguese traders in 1610.  There is a legend that King Charles II grew up in exile in Portugal and become accustomed to drinking tea.  In fact, he married Catharine of Braganza who was both Portuguese and an avid tea drinker.  It is said that when she came to England to marry the monarch, she brought with her a casket of tea.  She was known as England’s first tea-drinking queen.

It is also said that it was the coffee houses of London that brought the teas for the masses.  One of the first was a house owned by Thomas Garway who started selling the drink and leaves in 1657.  In as 35tt3e as three years, he began advertising the selling of tea at £6 and £10!

Tea gained popularity in the 1700.  However, it was to the distress of the tea owners as it cut their sales of gin and ale.  This was also bad news for the government who depended on the revenue of liquor taxes.  In 1676, the government tried to slow the growing popularity by putting a tax on tea.  By the mid 18th century, the tax had reached as high as 199%!  So the Brits created a whole new industry: tea smuggling.

Once tea became more accepted and the taxes lifted, this allowed for the creation of a new tea custom: Afternoon tea.  It is said that Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford created the idea of afternoon tea as a bridge to gap lunch and dinner.  This eventually led to the popularity of cream tea for not only the high classes but the working classes as well.  This then enabled tea to embed itself into all aspects of British culture.

What a fascinating history, no?  I love a good cup of Cream Tea, don’t you?

Morning Cup #20 - Sandman PM

Morning Cup Logo

Today's cup is an herbal from Stash Tea called Sandman PM.

Until recently I haven't  normally been drinking an herbal tea first thing in the morning. I often need more of a pick-me-up. However, this Sandman PM has been eying me for a while. At least I sure feel like I could use a visit from the sandman today.

The brew is rather light. The most dominant aroma and flavor is chamomile. The liquor is a pleasant golden color.

What's in your cup?