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The history of tea from the camellia senensis plant goes back thousands of years, and the joys and benefits of such tea belong firmly in the forefront of holistic living. Today, we’re not comparing teas from other plants, rather, focusing solely on green and black teas from this particular plant. Your grandma may have had camellia plants in her garden, for the flowers. Some varieties have blossoms that may be deep pink and look like a slightly flattened rose. Camellias grow as shrubs or small trees and are evergreen. And the really famous variety is Camellia Sinensis, grown for many fine teas.
Yes, both green and black teas come from the same plant. The green leaves are less oxidized, and the black leaves look black because of extra exposure to oxygen, which changes the flavor. Some studies suggest a slight difference in benefits between green and black teas. Given that the leaves are all from the same plant, you decide what your preference is. Today, you can have whole leaf tea, loose tea, teabag tea, K-pod tea, and/or instant tea. There is even tea candy. So called “tea cakes” are not made from tea, rather, they are meant to be eaten while drinking tea.
The history of tea is fascinating! I will share just a few favorite highlights here.
- Tea is said to have been discovered accidentally, by the Emperor Shen Non, in 2737 BC, when leaves from a Camellia Senensis plantblew into a pot of boiling water. By 22 CE, a famous physician published a treatise on the benefits of tea for mental acuity. By 500 CE, demand was strong, and the tea trade had begun in earnest. Farmers began cultivating tea crops, rather than relying on wild plants.
- In 1669, 150 pounds of tea were shipped to England. By 1705, English tea importation was 800,000 pounds annually. In 1733, American Revolutionaries dumped many crates of tea into Boston Harbor and other colonial (pre-USA) ports. In 1904, Sir Richard Blechynden created iced tea for the St. Louis World’s Fair. In 1908, Thomas Sullivan accidentally invented the teabag; he sent clients tea samples in silk bags, which they used to infuse the tea. Oops!
- Why do people enjoy and even crave tea? Possibly because the body detects elements that feel good. The antioxidant L-Theanine, in both black and green tea, relaxes us while also increasing focus. Research has also found numerous health benefits of drinking green or black tea, including anti-cancer benefits, a few of which are in the graphic above. Tea is so popular and so culturally ingrained that you can’t watch a British drama without someone offering or making tea every 20 minutes.
- The idea of a meal called “tea” developed in the 1800’s, accidentally innovated by a hungry Dutchess. Anna, Seventh Dutchess of Bedford, wanted a snack around 4 in her private rooms, as dinner was not served until 8 pm. She asked for tea, bread and butter to be sent up. This habit caught on with her friends and then across society, leading ultimately to fancy afternoon meals we enjoy today as High Tea, at fine hotels and tea shops.
- In a unique variation of High Tea, during the Pandemic, a group of climbers decided to have a tea party on Mt. Everest. Andrew Hughes organized climber friends and special supplies. They convened and sipped at 21,500 feet, on May 5, 2021, in the highest ever tea party, documented by the Guinness Book of World Records (https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/96117-highest-tea-party ). Snow was falling, but they had a great time. And the cookies they shared? From the Girl Scouts USA, aiding a fund for girls in New York City’s shelter system.
- Today, tea is a major industry, more popular than ever, with production and exportation in and from 40 countries. Production is estimated at over 2.5 billion tons annually. Humans like tea!
So the next time you want to relax, put your feet up, and just ponder the amazing dimensions of life… make a cup of tea for yourself. And sip slowly. And that will be you, moving ever more into being Healthy Happy and Loving Lifesm!
Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert, holistic healer, and award-winning author who celebrates life. She has a longtime natural healing practice and is an ordained minister. Among her books are: Discover The Secret Energized You (http://tinyurl.com/b44v3br), Inspirations for Peace Within: Quotes and Images to Uplift and Inspire, and Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine. The books are available on Amazon and through Kebba’s office. They are also available in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the Franciscan Renewal Center bookstore and at the bookstore at St. Barnabas on the Desert Episcopal Church. Or simply email us to order: email@example.com . Thank you!