Loading... Please wait...

A Tale of Tea

ancient-chinese-tea.jpg"Winston, if I was your wife, I'd poison your tea," Lady Nancy Astor said to Winston Churchill, coldly. "Nancy, if I were your husband, I'd drink it." He said.

"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." C. S. Lewis told a friend.

“I am in no way interested in immortality, but only in the taste of tea,” Lu T'ung told his disciples.

And it took Albert Einstein to figure out why tea settles in the centre of your cup when swirled instead of at the edges where you'd expect from centripetal force. He solved this centuries-old philosophers' enigma in 1926. And now, his "tea-theory" is saving the lives of thousands through applied red blood cell and plasma centrifugation.

Throughout history, princesses were married to tea. Buddhists reached enlightenment to tea. And warring nations and enemy emperors made peace to a cup of the same. Each drop represents, not only a journey of many physical miles, but the endeavor and tradition of generations of families and dynasties that, as legend has it, began as early as 2737 BC, entirely by accident.

The Legend of Shen Nong

The ancient Emperor Shen Nong was a wise leader, known for his knowledge and passion for science, the arts, and herbalism. He advocated the boiling of water prior to drinking it for the preservation of good health - thousands of years before western science recognized the benefits of the practice - and, when resting upon a long journey, had several of his men boil some water for consumption. As Shen Nong’s men were boiling the water, a leaf from a nearby Camellia bush fell into the water infusing it with color and a pleasing aroma.

The Emperor, curious about the mixture’s properties, and confident of its safety due to his experience as an herbalist, drank the fluid and revered it for its taste and invigorating qualities.

The Legend Lives On

Though this story may mostly be attributed to myth, largely redolent of similar stories regarding the birth of many Chinese spiritual sects, cultures and martial arts, it underlies the drink’s primacy in China’s culture and traditions.

In spite of many sophisticated advancements in the cultivation, manufacture, and preparation of tea, the final drink remains a combination of water and two basic types of the Camellia sinensis bush indigenous to both China and India. Health claims about tea abound, some supported by scientifically conducted studies and other purely anecdotal.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote, “I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”

See also “Tea and Health” on this site.