Tea is one of the most popular beverages enjoyed by many nations all around the world and I have great memories of sitting with my father chit chatting about life over a cup of tea. Back then, we usually drank it as a dark brown liquor with a touch of sugar and lemon juice but since I moved to London and later to Singapore I have fallen in love with the diverse tea culture.
Over the last few years, I have been learning about tea and as you might have noticed I love history, so…
Legend says that tea originated in 2737 BC. It is said that exiled Emperor Shen Nung of China was sitting in the shade of a wild tea tree holding a pot of boiling water when the breeze blew a few leaves from the tree into the pot and the water obtained a delicious flavour that he enjoyed and introduced to the Chinese who developed different styles of tea. In 1978, archeologists found tea relics in the Tianluo mountains that are estimated to be at least 7000 years old, which means that tea has been around way earlier than what we knew so far.
Did you know that tea was introduced to Europe by Portuguese traders in the 16th century? It was the Dutch who did the first shipments of tea from Japan and China to Europe. In the 18th century, tea made up to 70% of the traded goods originating from China. In the second part of the 18th century, the Brits took over the tea trade as they were able to offer better quality teas.
In 1772, the taxation of tea caused a huge disorder in Great Britain’s colonies in America. The Boston Tea Party (16th December 1773) where local native Americans throw 342 large chests of tea into the harbour led to a series of law actions that later escalated into the Revolutionary War, this I guess one can say formed the America that we know today.
Another country that plays a large role in tea production is India, where the popular masala chai tea includes milky sweet combinations with spices which vary from region to region. The English tea has been mainly enjoyed by wealthy classes who had social relations with the British. In the early 20th century, the Indian Tea Association ran a successful campaign and locals started to drink a lot more of the “black tea” than masala chai.
The fascinating tea history has a lot more to offer based on each tea producing region through its production process and way of enjoying it. Stay tuned for more articles!
To celebrate tea and cocktails, I could not think of anything else than the Earl Grey Martini created by Audrey Sanders.
Earl Grey Martini
50 ml Earl Grey infused London Dry Gin*
20 ml Fresh Lemon Juice
15 ml Sugar Syrup (2:1)
½ egg white
- Combine all ingredients in a shaker, dry shake twice, add ice and shake again.
- Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with lemon peel.
*Earl Grey infused London Dry Gin
1 bottle of London Dry Gin
4 tea bags of good quality Earl Grey Tea
- Combine both ingredients in a jug and let it sit for 15 mins. After 15 min, gently stir, squeeze all the tea bags and discard them.
- Bottle the infused gin and keep refrigerated.
Bartender’s note: “Tea is the fastest growing luxury beverage in the world.”