January is Hot Tea Month, but I don’t need a special month to drink tea. Hot tea is my beverage of choice in the winter. There are days I drink it by the gallon, but hardly a day goes by that I don’t have at least one cup. It has been shown that green tea has many health benefits, but you will usually find herbal tea in my cup.
Ironically, of course, herbal teas are not technically teas at all. True tea is prepared by pouring hot or boiling water over cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub native to Asia. After water, tea is the most widely consumed drink in the world. Tea drinking began in the distant past in China, where first it was used medicinally, before it became popular as just a warming drink. The earliest known physical evidence of tea was discovered in the mausoleum of Emperor Jing of Han in Xi’an, indicating that tea was drunk by Han Dynasty emperors as early as the 2nd century BCE. Later it spread to Britain, where it became so popular that tea might be said to be the national drink in England. When I was visiting over there a couple of years ago, though, I had the best traditional afternoon tea of my trip in Ireland.
According to what I have read online, tea plants are propagated from seed and cuttings. About 4 to 12 years are needed for a plant to bear seed and about three years before a new plant is ready for harvesting. In addition tea plants require at least 50 inches of rainfall a year and prefer acidic soils. A tea plant will grow into a tree of up to 52 feet if left undisturbed, but cultivated plants are generally pruned to waist height for ease of plucking. Also, the short plants bear more new shoots which provide new and tender leaves and increase the quality of the tea. Only the top 1-2 inches of the mature plant are picked.
So be sure to celebrate at some time in this month by having a nice warming cup of tea. I have one beside me as I am typing this!
Quotes about tea
Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage.–Okakura Kakuzō
Make tea, not war.–Monty Python
The most trying hours in life are between four o’clock and the evening meal. A cup of tea at this time adds a lot of comfort and happiness.–Royal S. Copeland
Where there’s tea there’s hope.–Arthur Wing Pinero
I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tea-lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter…–George Orwell
Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary.–Chinese Proverb
My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody.–Wilkie Collins
Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.–Thich Nat Hahn
If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited it will calm you.–William Ewart Gladstone
You can’t get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.–C. S. Lewis
There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea.–Bernard-Paul Heroux
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