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Time for Tea.

Byline: By Aled Blake Western Mail

There's nothing quite like a nice soothing cuppa. But why do we love a brew so much? Aled Blake finds out 50 things you didn't know about tea...

n 1 According to legend, the first cup of tea was brewed more than 5,000 years ago. A garden leaf fell in water being boiled for Shen Nung, an early emperor who found the new brown drink refreshing. n 2 The first definitive book on tea was written in 800 by Lu Yu, a Buddhist who codified the cultivation of the crop. n 3 Tea contains antioxidants that scientist believe can help protect against cancer and heart disease. n 4 Britons have been drinking our favourite hot drink, tea, for more than 300 years. n 5 Tea is an entirely natural drink. There is no technological manufacturing process, no additives, no artificial colouring or preservatives. n 6 Tea is an evergreen plant and a member of the Camellia family. n 7 There are more than 1,500 different types of tea. Left to grow wild, the plant will grow up to15 metres. Under cultivation, the Camellia Sinensis is kept to a height of approximately 3ft. n 8 The world's main producers of tea are India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Malawi, Indonesia and China, although more than 25 countries farm the crop. n 9 Black tea - the kind most people in Britain drink - is grown mainly in India, Sri Lanka, Africa and China. n 10 Tea seeds were taken to Japan by a Buddhist monk, a legendary association which means the drink has always been linked with the religion in the Land of the Rising Sun. n 11 Black tea leaves are those that have been fully oxidised and they are fermented during processing. n 12 Green tea is dried but not fermented. The shorter processing gives green tea a lighter flavour than black tea. It also helps keep the beneficial chemicals intact. n 13 It's probably best not to drink a brew before bedtime. Black and green teas are produced from the same plant so both green and black tea naturally contain caffeine, which is a stimulant. n 14 The invention of the tea bag is said to have resulted from the small silk sample bags used by Thomas Sullivan, a New York city tea merchant, in 1904 to send to clients. n 15 Tea bags are now made of paper, with manufacturers claiming different shapes produced a more tasty brew. n 16 It wasn't until the 1960s that the idea of using a tea bag took off in the UK, where 85% of all tea consumed is today brewed using a tea bag. n 17 The average Briton manages to drink around 1,000 cups of tea a year, making us the second biggest tea drinkers in the world. n 18 It was not until the Tang Dynasty (618-906) that tea became China's national drink and the word ch'a was used to describe tea. n 19 The modern term 'tea' derives from early Chinese dialect words - such as Tchai, Cha and Tay - used both to describe the beverage and the leaf. n 20 The first mention of tea outside China and Japan is said to be by the Arabs in 850 and it was they who were reputed to have brought it to Europe via the Venetians around 1559. n 21 Britain was the last of the great European seafaring nations to enter the tea trade, following France, Holland and Portugal. We entered the trade via the East India Company, originally the John Company, in the mid to late 17th century. n 22 The John Company was allowed by Parliament, among other things, to declare war, form foreign alliances and pass laws, was the single largest, most powerful monopoly to ever exist in the world. n 23 The East India Company floundered against such competition. Appealing to Parliament for relief, the decision was made to merge the John Company and the East India Company (1773) it was given complete and total trade monopoly on all commerce in China and India. n 24 The merchant Thomas Garway was among the first to trade tea in Britain. He offered it in dry and liquid form at his coffee house in Exchange Alley in the City of London, holding his first public sale in 1657. n 25 By the middle of the 18th century, however, tea had replaced ale and gin as the drink of the masses and had become Britain's most popular beverage. n 26 Tea rationing in World War II was surprisingly less drastic compared with other food and drink imports. n 27 Iced tea was first drunk at the 1904 World Trade Fair in St Louis where hot weather and demand for cold drinks led Englishman, Richard Blechynden to pour tea into glasses filled with ice cubes. It is the most popular form of tea in the USA. n 28 Nearly half of all Britons pack tea bags when they go on holidays. n 29 Debate rages over whether to put milk in the cup before the tea, but advice from tea expert suggests milk first if the tea is brewed in a pot but water first when using a tea bag in a cup. n 30 There is now a range of organic and fair trade teas on offer to keep up with consumer demand. n 31 Bubble tea originated in Taiwan around 10 years ago. The two main ingredients of this cold drink are tapioca balls, the bubble, and milk tea. Other flavourings can include papaya, honeydew and ice cream. n 32 In Wales, afternoon tea is served with out favourite cakes - bara brith and Welsh cakes. n 33 Glengettie is Wales' own national brand of tea. It has been blended for the Welsh tastebud since 1952. n 34 Welsh people have given traditional tea rooms to Patagonia in Argentina. n 35 Afternoon tea was invented by Anna, the Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861), who experienced a sinking feeling at around 3pm. n 36 Tea cuisine quickly expanded in range to quickly include wafer thin crustless sandwiches, shrimp or fish pates, toasted breads with jams, and regional British pastries such as scones and crumpets. n 37 Posh teas include Early Grey, a black tea with a touch of the oil of bergamot a member of the citron family. n 38 It was 1837 when young Joseph Tetley and his brother's distribution company (which included salt and sundries) officially launched. n 39 Instant tea is one of the latest developments in the drink - it is made, like instant coffee, by spray-drying tea infusion. n 40 Tea is second to water as the world's most consumed drink. n 41 In each tea bag or box of loose tea there are dozens of varieties of tea, companies use blends to create their own taste. n 42 In Tibet, Buddhist monks drink tea made by churning tea with yak butter. n 43 Companies now produce decaffeinated tea, although there are varieties of tea that are low or free of caffeine. n 44 PG Tips, Typhoo and Tetley are the leading tea companies in the UK.n 45 When brewing loose tea leaves in a pot, for the best flavour leave it brew at least three minutes - but not too much longer or the tea will stew. n 46 Oolong tea is a popular tea in China and is a cross between black and green tea. n 47 Tea is one of the few natural sources of fluoride, a chemical used to protect teeth. n 48 Herbal teas are not teas at all, they are made from plants other than tea trees. n 49 Tea is said to slow down digestion. Its daily intake causes indigestion as tannin impedes the action of 'ptyalin', a digestive ferment of saliva. n 50 Despite a fall in consumption in recent years, tea remains our national drink - a beverage that makes us stand out among other nations.
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 16, 2004
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