Tea

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History, Dream, Health, Equipment, Extract 1, Recipe 1

The last bud « pekoe » and the two following next leaves from the tea bush are the base of the best tea. Before it is brought to market, the tea has to pass different steps : leaves drying, rolling, filtering, and eventually, fermenting and warming to give the tea its last form : black or fermented, oolong or half-fermented, green or unfermented.
We drink it warm or cold, without flavour or aromatized by 1001 different ways.

  The history of tea   We know that tea was already useful in China in 2737 before JC, that the Koreans adopted it in the 7th century, the Japanese in 729, then the population of Central Asia, the Mongols, Tatars, Tibetans and Turks.
In the 16th century, the Portugese expeditions discovered tea in Far-East and brought it to Europe, to Portugal of course, and from there, it spread to the Netherlands, France, Great Britain, Germany, Russia …. and in the 19th century, it arrived in North Africa.

To dream about its immensity   Close your eyes. You are sitting on a small tea leaf, like a magician on his flying carpet or like Nils Holgersson on his wild goose. You’re flying over the tea plantations. The tea world is huge, you’re going to travel a long way. In Asia : in China, Taïwan, Indonesia, Viet-Nam, Malaysia, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Sikkim, Bangladesh, from the Black Sea to the Caspian, in Georgia, Turkey, Iran, in Africa : Cameroon, Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Maurice Island, in South America in Argentina and Brazil.
And among all of these tea plantations, you know that organic plantations are promise of the future.

Tea and health   One thinks that tea is good for health, but others think that tea isn’t so good. Like all other foods and beverages, it has to be consumed in moderation, knowing its eventual secondary effects.
When tea was introduced in Europe it was sold by the apothecaries and people thought it was good to cure gout, cold, and bronchitis. In 1637 a Ph.D. was written about its virtues.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the apothecaries sold tea when somebody had indigestion, and tea was so rare that it was the most important aspect of a party, like H. de Balzac wrote in his novel: « The Lost Illusions » when he described a play, in which a young lady had a party with some tea, knowing that all the society of Angoulême, her very provincial town, would be stupefied.

Equipment  One or several tea-pots, boxes, small bags, cups, bowls, something to measure the tea quantity, filters, spoons, strainer, samovar, teakettle; slowness and precision of movements, temperature of the water, infusion time, contemplation. Making tea is an art.

Extract 1 – About pleasures of the table
« In spite of the delight of far niente (written in this way at the time), or « idleness, » I always thought that nothing gives more sweetness to conversation than something that doesn’t demand any attention ; so I proposed to have tea.
Tea was something strange for old-fashioned French people, but they accepted it. I made it in their presence and they drank some cups with a real pleasure because they always regarded it as remedial. »

Brillat-Savarin, French gastronome, 1755-1826, Physiologie du Goût, Physiology of Taste, 1825

Recipe 1 – Tea and Serenity
Is it the beginning or the end of the day, the calm before the effervescence or the repose after the boiling ? The moment of a welcome solitude or a shared tea ?
It’s the moment of the song of the teakettle, of the ceremony of the movements, of the smell of the tea while it infuses, of the sweetness and warmth of the beverage in the throat.
It’s a magical moment, when everything becomes quiet and is in harmony with « The invitation to travel, » the poems of Charles Baudelaire :
« Here all is only method and beauty,
Luxury, calmness and voluptousness. »