Tea Leaves Book- 3

CHAPTER II.
HISTORICAL.
Until a quite recent period botanists believed that the tea plant


was a native of China, and that its growth was confined to China


and Japan. But it is now definitely known that the tea plant is a


native of India, where the wild plant attains a size and


perfection which concealed its true character from botanical


experts, as well as from ordinary observers, for many years after


it had become familiar to them as a native of Indian forests.






How early in the history of the Chinese that people discovered


and developed the inestimable qualities of the tea plant is not


known. That Chinese scholar, S. Wells Williams, in his Middle


Kingdom places the date about 350 A.D. But somewhere between 500


A.D. and 700 A.D. Tea had become a favorite beverage in Chinese


families. Some of the written records of that ancient people push


the epoch of tea-drinking back as far as 2700 B.C., appealing to


ambiguous utterances of Confucius for corroboration. Tea in China


had obtained sufficient importance in political economy in 783 or


793 A.D. to become an object of taxation by the Chinese


Government.






Gibbon, in his great work, tells us that as early as the sixth


century, caravans conveyed the silks and spices and sandal wood


of China by land from the Chinese Sea westward to Roman markets


on the Mediterranean, a distance of nearly 6,000 miles. But we


hear no mention of the introduction of tea into Europe or western


Asia until a thousand years later.






According to Mr. John McEwan (International Geog. Congress,


Berlin, 1899,) tea soon found its way from China into Japan and


Formosa, but was not cultivated in Japan on a commercial scale


until the 12th century.






John Sumner, in a Treatise on Tea (Birmingham, 1863), states that


the Portuguese claim to have first introduced tea into Europe,


about 1557. Disraeli (Curiosities of Literature) offers evidence


that tea was unknown in Russian Court circles as late as 1639.






But Russia and Persia seem to have naturalized tea as a beverage


about the same time that it became known in England. Little is


said about Persian tea-drinking in modern writing upon tea, but


the testimony of many travelers bears witness to the national


love of tea by Persians.






The Encyclopedia Britannica concedes to the Dutch, the honor of


being the first European tea-drinkers, and states that early


English supplies of tea were obtained from Dutch sources. It is


related by Dr. Thomas Short, (A Dissertation on Tea, London,


1730), that on the second voyage of a ship of the Dutch East


India Co. to China, the Dutch offered to trade Sage, as a very


precious herb, then unknown to the Chinese, at the rate of three


pounds of tea for one pound of Sage. The new demand for sage at


one time exhausted the supply, but after a while the Orientals


had a surfeit of sage-tea, and concluded that Chinese tea was


quite good enough for Chinamen. If the European traders had known


the virtue of sage-tea for stimulating the growth of human hair,


and had given the Orientals the cue, sage leaves might have


retained their high value with the Chinese until now.






In these days, it may be remarked, the Dutch are said to drink as


much tea per capita as the Russians, who are as fond of tea as


the Chinese.






While both the English and Dutch East India Companies exhibited


in England small samples of tea as curiosities of barbarian


customs very early in the 17th century, tea did not begin to be


used as a beverage in England even by the Royalty until after


1650.






In a number of the weekly Mercurius Politicus (a predecessor of


the present London Gazette), dated September 30, 1658, occurs


this advertisement:






"That excellent and by all pysitians approved China drink called


by the Chineans Tcha, by other nations Tay, alias Tee, is sold at


the Sultaness Head, a Cophee-house in Sweetings Rents, by the


Royal Exchange, London."






This appears to be the earliest recorded and authentic evidence


of the use of tea in England.






Macaulay, in a note in his History of England, says that tea


became a fashionable drink among Parisians, and went out of


fashion, before it was known in London, and refers to the


published correspondence of the French physician, Dr. Guy Patin,


with Dr. Charles Spon, under dates of March 10 and 22, 1648, for


proof of the fact. Macaulay also says that Cardinal Mazarin was a


great tea-drinker, and Chancellor Seguier, likewise.






Frankest and shrewdest among men of brains who have given to the


world their inmost thoughts, old Samuel Pepys, pauses in the


midst of conferences with Kings and Princes to record that "I


did send for a cup of tea (a China Drink) of which I had never


drank before." This in September 1660. Seven years later he


writes in that wonderful Diary--"Home, and there find my wife


drinking of tee, a drink which Mr. Pelling, the Potticary, tells


her is good for her cold and defluxions." Then goes on to rejoice


over the repulse of the Dutch in an attempt upon London.






To coffee and tea are due the establishment of that unique


English institution, the London Coffee House. Inns, where quests


were expected to lodge as well as eat; restaurants, in which men


tarried only for a single meal; and Beer and Spirit shops,


abounded in London; but the Coffee House ushered in a new era,


and actually changed the daily habits of a large majority of


representative London citizens. While it is asserted Mr. Jacobs


established the first Coffee House in England, at Oxford, it was


a native of Smyrna by the name of Pasqua Rosee who first opened a


Coffee House in London, in St. Michael's Alley, Cornhill, in


1652. Hot coffee only was here dispensed, during the day and


evening.






Coffee Houses soon increased in number and extended over the


business districts of London. Business men quickly recognized the


value of a beverage which cleared the mental vision while


refreshing and stimulating both mind and body, and repaired to


the Coffee House at all hours for the joint purpose of drinking


coffee and transacting business with their fellows. Coffee-Houses


became the Commercial Exchanges of London, and they were also the


precursors of modern English Clubs. Men of affairs, Statesmen,


literary celebrities, artists, naval and military officers, all


repaired to the Coffee Houses to meet each other, to hear and


discuss the serious topics and the light gossip of the day.






The introduction of tea gave the coffee-houses another strong


hold upon their customers, and chocolate as a beverage soon


followed. Among the early dispensors of these harmless hot drinks


was Thomas Garway, or as written later, Garraway, whose four-


story brick coffee-house on Exchange Alley, first opened in 1659,


had been a rallying point for Londoners for 216 years, when it


was pulled down to make room for other structures, in 1873.


Garraway left a monument that has outlasted his coffee-house, in


the form of a famous tea circular.






Garway's Famous Circular is so often quoted and mutilated that we


print it here in full; it has no date, but it is supposed to have


been printed in 1660:


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