How to brighten your day
Served with sweet crispy biscuits, at a business meeting, a date or a great ally when you caught a cold, tea is a blessing for mind, body and soul. But let us have a quick look at the history of the tea.
Perhaps many of you heard that the first tea was prepared in China in 2737 BC when a stray leaf felt directly in the cup of the Emperor Shen Nung, who was drinking hot water. It is said that Emperor Shen Nung had the head and the horns of a bull and a transparent stomach. He was eating various plants and herbs and after that he was waiting to see what effects they had on his body. The legend also said that he was poisoned 72 times in one day. So the “truth” behind the discovery of tea is placed somewhere between truth and mythology.
How did the tea appear in London? Well, we need to know that Thomas Garraway was the first person who introduced the English tea to the public attention in 1657. Cafes like Garraway`s Coffee House became the main supplier of tea, being in the same time a place where people were discussing (political matters) and socializing. At the beginning, only men were accepted (in 1706, Thomas Twining`s Coffee House became the first café for both men and women). It is believed that the first “tea shop” was opened in 1864 by Aerated Bread Company.
The popularity of tea in England has reached new limits with the marriage of Princess Catherine of Braganza to Charles II (king of England, Scotland and Ireland), mainly because the Princess introduced the tea to the royal court. Many trade routes established in that time, but tea trading was, however, limited to a low level because of the high price.
Why five a clock? The ritual began, of course, in the high class society. Queen Vitoria`s maid of honor (1819-1901), Anna Maria Stanhope (Duchess of Bedford) is the one that considered that before dinner there was a time gap which was perfect for serving tea, mainly because the lunch was frugal. As five o`clock was about halfway between lunch and dinner, it was not long way until the tea ceremony earned the prefix ‘’at five o`clock”. At the beginning, the Duchess served the tea alone but over time she started to invite friends to keep her company while she was performing this ritual.
Regarding of what I said above, the five o`clock tradition appeared in a famous story. You are right, is “Alice in Wonderland”. Do you remember the tea offered to Alice by the hatter? If you recall the scene then you surely know how plentiful the table was, a truly 5 o`clock tea ritual.
In the end of this short article I think that everyone should enjoy a tea that suits him/her, with milk or not, but in a good company, with some good songs on the background and a beautiful view. I almost forgot to tell you … serve it with smiles J.