Just to round the week off, we thought we'd sprinkle you with a few fun facts that we've found on our journey wandering blissfully through the world of tea.
- Here in Britain, with the popularity of the coffee shop and coffee being very on point it might be surprising to learn that tea is still the most popular beverage in Britain. We might be drinking more coffee when we are out but in the office and home tea still beats coffee as the go-to drink.Worldwide it is by far the most widely drunk beverage after water.
- Teabags were invented in the United States in 1908 by Thomas Sullivan who used little bags to put samples of loose leaf tea to give to his customers. However, a few of them rather than emptying out the tea into the pot put the bag straight in and the tea bag was born. It wasn't until the 1930s however that machines were built to allow mass production.
- All teas, whether black, green, blue, white or yellow comes from the same plant Camellia Sinensis. The taste of tea and its colour is determined by the climate in which it is grown and the production process once the leaves are picked. The variety and spectrum of taste is immense and can be compared to the growing and production of grapes and wine production.
- The type of water and how you boil it can greatly influence the taste of your tea. This is particularly true of the finer teas where precise brewing with the correct water is essential to the perfect cup.
- Tea is grown in over 60 countries and not just India, Japan and China as a lot of people might think. We even have one or two small plantations in Britain. However, the majority of tea plantations are found in Asia, Africa and South America.
- There is a special name for the unfurling of the tea leaves as hot water is poured on them. It is known as the “agony of the leaves”
- Herbal and fruit teas are not actually true teas because they do not contain leaves from the plant Camellia Sinensis but are in fact Tisanes, infusions made from the leaves, flowers, roots, fruit and seeds of other plants.
- In Ancient China tea was a form of currency. Tea leaves were pressed into a brick, with one side scored so that it could be easily broken down into smaller pieces if change was required.
- When you are tea tasting to define flavour, the experts will always slurp as it aerates the tea, increasing the flavours and allowing greater contact with your taste buds. Pu-erh (which is an aged and fermented tea) is supposed to be drunk this way too. So slurp away- it might be the only time you can get away with it in polite society.
- Once you have finished your tea you may want to read your leaves to tell your future. This art form is called tasseography. Who knows what future you might find, unfurling at the bottom of your cup!
So, while you are waiting for the future foretold in your teacup to materialise, you now have a few conversation topics for your next tea time chat.