Tea Leaves Book- 5

And to the end that all persons of eminency and quality,
    gentlemen and others, who have occasion for tea in leaf,
    may be supplied, these are to give notice that the said
    Thomas hath tea to sell from sixteen to fifty shillings
    in the pound.
 
    And whereas several persons using coffee have been
    accustomed to buy the powder thereof by the pound, or in
    lesser or greater quantities, which if kept for two days
    loseth much of its first goodness, and forasmuch as the
    berries after drying, may be kept, if need require, some
    months, therefore all persons living remote from London,
    and have occasion for the said powder, are advised to
    buy the said coffee-berries ready dried, which being in
    a mortar beaten, or in a mill ground to powder, as they
    use it, will so often be brisk, fresh, and fragrant, and
    in its full vigour and strength, as if new prepaired, to
    the great satisfaction of the drinkers thereof, as hath
    been experienced by many of the best sort, the said
    Thomas Garway hath always ready dried, to be sold at
    reasonable rates.
 
    All such as will have coffee in powder, or the berries
    undried, or chocolata, may, by the said Thomas Garway,
    besupplide to their content; with such further
    instructions and perfect directions how to use tea,
    coffee, and chocolata, as is or may be needful, and so
    as to be efficatious and operative, according to their
    several virtues.
    _____________________________________________
 
 
Garway's Circular embodies the redundancy of a modern legal
document with the pretentious ignorance and hifaluting language
of the so-called medical treatises of his day. There are many
ear-marks of both lawyer and doctor in this curious composition,
and we can imagine the ostentatious pride with which Garway
circulated the learned sense and nonsense among patrons no wiser
than himself.
 
 
 
CHAPTER III.
 
HISTORICAL -- Continued.
 
The same year that Pepys so intrepidly drank his first cup of tea
in London, a tax was imposed by the English Parliament of 8 pence
(16 cents) upon every gallon of tea made and sold as a beverage
in England. A like tax was levied on liquid chocolate and sherbet
as articles of sale. Officers visited the Coffee Houses daily to
measure the quantities and secure the revenue.
 
In 1710 the best Bohea tea sold in London for 30 shillings or
$7.00 a pound, inclusive of a government tax of $1.25 on each
pound, and the consumption in England was then estimated at
140,000 lbs. per annum.
 
There being no authentic record or official computation of the
population of Great Britain or of England previous to 1801, no
comparison can be made of English tea consumption per capta with
those early days.
 
Dr. Samuel Johnson, when taking tea with David Garrick, the
tragedian, and Peg Woffington, about the year 1735, was amused at
Garrick's audible complaints that the fascinating actress used
too much of his costly tea at a drawing. In 1745 the British
yearly consumption of tea was but 730,000 lbs. The Scotch Judge,
Duncan Forbes, in his published letters of that period, wrote
that the use of tea had become so excessive, that . . .
 
"the meanest families, even of laboring people, particularly in
boroughs, make their morning's meal of it, and thereby disuse the
ale which heretofore was their accustomed drink; and the same
drug supplies all the laboring women with their afternoon's
entertainment, to the exclusion of the twopenny," (i.e., dram of
beer or spirits).
 
So that we may trace our ultra-fashionable 5 o'clock tea of 1900
back to its plebian origin among plain working people, to the
working woman, to the washerwoman of 150 years ago. Let the
revived custom not lose caste by this admission, but rather gain
in wholesome popular estimation by evidence of a common tie
between the humblest and the most fortunate of mankind.
 
A president of an English Court of Sessions also complained that
tea was driving out beer, and indirectly injuring the farmer, in
whose cottage, he omitted to say, the tea canister had begun to
occupy a place of honor, despite the lessened demand for his
malt.
 
In 1745, the British tea tax was reduced to 1 shilling (25 cents)
per pound, together with 25 per cent of the gross price. The
selling price immediately dropped, and British consumption in
1846 rose to 2,358,589 lbs. The use of tea has often been checked
by excessive duties or excise tax. From 1784 to 1787 British
consumption rose from five million pounds to seventeen millions
of pounds, consequent upon a reduction of duties. Twenty years
after, under the imposition of exorbitant duties, British
consumption was only nineteen and one quarter millions of pounds.
 
It was in those early years of the nineteenth century that tea
firmly and permanently established itself in the humbler
households of England. Its economical prominence elicited from
William Cobbett, the economist and pugnacious editor, a
declaration that from eleven to twelve pounds of tea constituted
the average annual indulgence of a cottager's family, at a cost
of eight shilling for black and 12 shillings for green tea ($2 to
$3) per pound, which was doubtless an over-estimate. And we must
bear in mind that tea in those days was sold by the ounce,
measured into the teapot by the grain, and was steeped until
every vestige of flavor, savory or bitter, had been extracted
from the precious leaves.
 
Although in 1807 the governing powers of Great Britain forced
excise duties on teas up to ninety per cent. of their cost, tea
had been proved to be so beneficial and essential to happiness by
British workers that Charles Dickens, in reviewing the situation,
presents it as follows:--"And yet the washerwomen looked to her
afternoon 'dish of tea' as something that might make her
comfortable after her twelve hours of labor, and balancing her
saucer on a tripod of three fingers, breathed a joy beyond
utterance as she cooled the draught. The factory workman then
looked forward to the singing of the kettle, as some compensation
for the din of the spindle. Tea had found its way even to the
hearth of the agricultural laborer, and he would have his ounce
of tea as well as the best of his neighbors." But the heavy taxed
worker was often forced to choose between a tea adulterated with
English plants of other kinds, or the contraband but genuine
commodity offered by enterprising smugglers, who were the despair
of the Crown officers of the revenue, and the recognized friends
of the over-taxed poor.
 
It must not be inferred that tea as a beverage became naturalized
in England without meeting with the unreasoning opposition that
usually greets the advent of a stranger. The press and pamphlets
of the day contained frequent attacks upon tea, and the violence
of denunciation usually bore a fair proportion to the ignorance
of the writer; ignorance of physiology, ignorance of medicine,
ignorance of the pamphlets itself. The unfavorable opinions and
portentous predictions of some of the physicians of the period
are among the curiosities of medical records. Tea, like all other
things, may be abused, and a good friend be converted into an
enemy. But cold water has killed many persons, and plain bread
sometimes proves indigestible.
 
The plant whose leaves yield the tea of commerce is variously
termed Camellia Theifera; Thea Sinensis; or Chinensis; Thea
Assamica; Thea Bohea and Thea Viridis, according to its origin,
variety of the writer's fancy. While the real character of the
East Indian or Assam tea plant has been recognized by botanical
science less than seventy years, and the Chinese tea plant has
probably been utilized for fifteen hundred years, it will be more
convenient to begin our remarks with the later discovery.
 
Writers at the present time continue to describe the tea plant as
a "shrub" of about six feet in height. The indigenous tea plant
of India, which is believed to be the parent stock of Chinese tea
plants, is a tree, growing to a height of 20 to 35 feet with a
trunk 8 to 10 inches in diameter, and bearing leaves of a lively
green, 8 to 9 inches in length and 4 inches in breadth. The
leaves are much more delicate in texture than those of Chinese
plants, which hardly reach 4 inches in length, and the former
contain a larger percentage of the invaluable alkaloid, Theine.
Dr. Chas. U. Sheppard, in a historical sketch of Tea Culture in
South Carolina, tells us that a tea tree which was planted
planted by Michaux, about 15 miles from Charleston, and about the
year 1800, had attained a height of say 15 feet when he saw it a
few years ago.
 
The native Indian tree is, however, not now utilized upon a
commercial scale for tea purposes. The reason for neglecting the
native plant we do not find definitely stated, but infer from
several sources of information that it is owing to the extreme
delicacy of constitution of the Assam plant, its demands for
excessive moisture and high temperature, and its preference for
partial shade, evidenced by its growing in the jungle and under
other trees. Possibly a difficulty in restraining its luxuriant
habit of growth is also involved. However this may be, the
commercial tea of Ceylon and India is a product of a cultivated
cross between the tender native Indian and the hardier Chinese
tea plants, in which the Assam strain bears the proportion of one
half to two thirds. A more robust plant under cultivation is the
result, and one which preserves the best qualities of both
varieties. This cross is usually termed a hybrid.
 
It seems probable that the removal of the tropical Indian plant
to China, more than a thousand years ago, with its much colder
and dryer climate and its poorer soil--for the best soil of
China has been set apart for rice and other indespensable foods--
together with continual removal of its leaves, have in time
evolved a tea plant so different from its parent stock, that
scientists failed for many years to recognize the Indian
original. Several times in the early years of this century
zealous travellers and residents of India sent to England
specimens of the native Indian tea plant for scientific
examination. But conservative government officials had already
established a botanical or technical standard for the tea plant
to which every aspirant for relationship must conform; no one of
them seems to have thought of the simple test of the teapot.
Finally some rash investigator, not having the fear of scientific
anathema before his eyes, crudely cured a few leaves, and
actually put them in hot water. Tea merchants immediately
recognized the plant and the magic circle of the Circumlocution
Office was smashed into bits.
 
Meanwhile, Chinese tea plants and Chinese experts and laborers
had been imported into India and tea gardens were well under way
before the native tea plant had been recognized. But in the
ultra-tropical climate of India, Chinese tea plants languished,
and success was finally obtained only by abandoning the stunted
Chinese varieties, and getting back nearer to the indigenous Thea
Assimica; and by the introduction of modern agricultural methods
under British management, and even by the use of machinery for
rolling tea and for firing tea by currents of hot air. Indian
laborers now supersede the Chinese workmen, who were not found
sufficiently pliable in adapting themselves to European ideas.
 
To preserve the historical record of tea so far as possible, we
will state that while the indigenous Indian tea plant had been
recognized somewhere about the year 1820, the first serious and
sustained attempts to grow tea in India were made by Englishmen,
about 1834, using Chinese tea plants and Chinese workmen for the
purpose. English authorities differ upon the exact dates. The
first shipment of English grown tea from India to London was made
in 1838; it amounted to but 60 chests, which brought at auction
in London $2.25 a pound. The second shipment in 1839 of ninety
five chests brought $2.00 a pound. In 1899 the Indian tea crop
amounted to about 175,000,000 lbs., and the size of Indian tea
gardens varied from 100 acres or less up to 4,000 acres. In 1897
the total acreage of tea plantations in India was stated by Mr.
Crole at 509,500 acres, equal to nearly 800 square miles.
 
Ceylon began to grow tea on a commercial scale as late as 1875,
after her coffee plantations had been ruined by disease. That
year her total acreage was about 1,000 acres, In 1883 Ceylon
exported a million and a half pounds of tea. In 1897 she had
400,000 acres of growing tea, equal to 625 square miles; and the
estimate of Mr. William MacKensie, Tea Commissioner for the
Ceylon Government, of her production for 1900, is 135,000,000
lbs.
 
The aggregate exports of tea by India and Ceylon is about
310,000,000 lbs., a complete reversal of conditions of tea trade
within twenty years, and due entirely to British enterprise and
the fine quality of British grown teas.
 
A liberal estimate for the total exports of Chinese and Japanese
teas for 1899 would be 340,000,000 lbs.; so that it is fair to
say that the world's consumption of tea, outside of China and
Japan, is now equally divided between teas of the latter two
countries and those of English growth.
 

No comments:

Post a Comment