Tea is a beverage, a ceremony, a commodity, an afternoon tradition, a path to meditation and good tea is much more than a drink – it’s an experience for the soul. With a cup of tea and peace of mind, the life attains new meaning. It’s the most British as well as the most Russian stuff, and as all wonderful things in the world – it has got its lovers.
1.Shennong, the legendary Emperor of China
The name of Shennong can be translated as a God Peasant or a God Farmer and he was a mythical sage, who ruled prehistoric China. Famous as the father of agriculture in China, he also taught his people the use of herbal medicines. He was the first person to ever drink a cup of steaming tea. It was 2737 B.C. and while the Emperor was boiling his water in the yard to purify it, the wind carried into his cauldron of boiling water leaves from a nearby wild bush. He intuitively decided to infuse the leaves and relax, and enjoy the beverage. This is how humanity first learned about tea.
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2.Sen no Rikyū
He is considered to be the father of the Japanese tea ceremony, also known as “Way of Tea.” According to Kakuzo in the Book of Tea, Rikyū’s last act was to hold an exceptional tea ceremony. He was famous as a man absolutely dedicated to perfection and aesthetics, especially in the art of preparing the tea. He not only redefined the tea ceremony, he designed several styles of it. It is a beautiful way to accept guests and everything is done in a meaningful order.
If you have one teapot
And can brew your tea in it
That will do quite well.
How much does he lack himself
Who must have a lot of things?
~Sen no Rikyū
3. Thomas Garaway
Thomas was the owner of the 1st coffeehouse to serve tea in 1657. Only two years later in 1659 coffee, chocolate and tea were already sold in almost each street. What makes coffeehouses special is their function. They were a place, where people used to gather with people from different backgrounds, different environments, sharing ideas with each other. They were places where ideas can make love and procreate. An amazing number of innovations from those times have got a coffeehouse in their history.
4.Thomas Sullivan from New York
The appearance of the tea bag is completely casual. In 1904, Thomas Sullivan, a merchant of food commodities from New York begins sending samples of tea to his customers, but not in boxes as usual. He placed the tea into small silk bags. The customers decided that they have to steep the tea by dropping the bags into cups of boiling water. This idea for faster preparation of tea was much fancied and soon people started to pack the tea not in silk, but in lint bags.
5.Earl (Charles) Grey
This British Prime Minister invented the Earl Grey blended tea, which consisted just of black tea and bergamot oil, which was added to change the unpleasant calcium flavor of the water, where he lived. Bergamot is a citrus fruit related to orange, it’s a French word, with a silent consonant – and it’s a substance used in many male and female fragrances. This is why people often refer to Earl Grey as “perfumy.” It’s best served with honey.
6.Tsar Mikhail I
Many would say vodka is the quintessential Russian drink – but no! It’s chai! Russians are obsessed with hot tea. It’s more than just a beverage it’s a lifestyle there. It follows almost every meal and it’s a favorite pastime, going on for plenty of hours. Legend says that a Mongolian chieftain gifted tea to King Mikhail I Romanov – the first Tsar of the Dynasty. But the tea actually thoroughly penetrated the Russian culture during the rule of Peter, the Great.
7.Queen Catherine of Braganza from Portugal
We cannot imagine how different the world would have been if Catherine of Braganza did not like tea. She loved playing cards, dancing and organizing balls with masks, picnicking and fishing and wearing shorter dresses to show her pretty ankles. She started in England the custom of drinking afternoon tea, which noblemen in Portugal already were doing. Before her influence, the court beverage was spirits – imagine wine and ale – from dawn to dusk.
8.The Famous Five
It’s a tale from the times when Canadian women had more rules and fewer rights. Almost one hundred years ago Emily Murphy, Irene Parlby, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards became known as the Famous Five. Since women were strongly discouraged from gathering together and talking about politics, the Famous Fives came up with what they called “pink teas.” In reality, they met under the guise of those tea parties to rule out how to change the future rights of Canadian women forever.
9.Queen Elizabeth II
This beloved political figure is a famous lover of tea.
Every morning she receives in her chambers a tray of Twinings’. English breakfast tea served in a bone china cup with a saucer, along with milk and some cookies. She does not take sugar in her tea. When you drink tea, you raise only the teacup – never the pinkie finger. Besides, if you happen to be present at afternoon tea with the Queen, have in mind that you are supposed to finish eating once she’s full.
He is known to have smoked about 10 Cuban cigars a day. A good cigar with a good cup of tea is a classic among pleasures. The right tea and cigar will flow like a sensual tango, pushing each other around, but always in sync. Churchill claimed that the tea was as important as bullets to the war effort. His favorite tea was Lapsang Souchong. His attitude to tea is wonderfully summarized by his friend Hilaire Belloc:
“Is there no Latin word for Tea? Upon my soul, had I known this, I would have let the vulgar beverage alone.”