I just began watching something brilliant. It’s a documentary type of series called “Victoria Wood’s Nice Cup of Tea“. This 59-year old lady, a true British one, figures she needs to get out there and find out so how this marvelous drink became something as important for a British person as it is today. They drink billions of cups a year, around three cups of tea for every cup of coffee, but origins do not lay in British Islands.
In Britain tea began it’s life from the fanciest of the fancy houses, for only the rich could afford something from strict China, where tea was first grown into plantations from three main, still existing tea trees. Those, according to legend, grew from Buddha’s eyelids, when one day in meditation he accidentally fell asleep and thus tore his lids off and threw them to the wind. From them tea trees grew and apparently we drink it.
China was keeping it’s secrets and no infiltration could help a poor british man, for this poor british man didn’t really figure one fact – all tea comes from one plant. Black tea is simply ran through full oxidation, while others – not so much. Tea is plucked by three to four leafs of a little branch of a little tree which is trimmed so that chinese ladies would be able to do this delicate work. Then the leafs are dried and toasted, depending on what sort of tea it will be. Afterwards it had to travel thousand of miles if not more, towards the sea and from there – further on to Britain. No wonder it was so expensive, right? British lords and ladies would keep their precious herbs in locked boxes so no servant could get a cup.
Problem was, Brits were thirsty and China didn’t want a damn thing from them in return for the gold-costing tea. Thus here a British man looks around and oh, look, India! Lads, we solved the problem. Here starts the opium wars, for from India to China, all for the precious tea, traveled packs of opium. High on the drug people couldn’t work, but they wanted it anyways. Chinese emperor tried to stop it all, but here is where British won their tea for a wider range of people. They won a tiny little piece of China, but it wasn’t the matter. The matter what, that this piece had the secret to tea! Wonders!
Never the less, tea was still quite expensive, for not that much of it could be produced by hands and depending on China for something whole country wants – well, that’s just not right. But wait… What is that Indian man drinking with his opium? Yes, what’s that brown water? Is that?…
Odd large trees of which branches were chopped while sitting on the back of an elephant. Those branches would then be cleaned by ladies at the bottom. And the flavor oddly bitter and so strong. It took ten years for a British man to say – Yes, this is indeed tea! Lads, lets take it home!
Industrialization began. They wanted lots of tea, tea for everybody, every Brit, small and old, poor and rich, tea, tea, tea! And they had it. Strong and fine, suitable to be mixed with milk and sugar. Afteral, while taking tea with power, they still gave something in return. In India tea is served a bit different. Well, alright, very differently than that in Britain, but never the less, they love it, and all thanks to the Brits. And their own tea brought everyone together, didn’t it? For after all, you have to ask thy companion – sugar? Milk? Lemon? And how about a biscuit? Feeling sad? Cup of tea. Belly ache? Here, cup of nice tea. Head, flu? Tea. Tea solves all the problems. And that all we figure from barely very first serie. So I say – heck, make yourself some tea and start watching. It’s marvelous.