Sunday, July 19, 2009

How to Drink Tea, a potted history

SAMUEL PEPYS the diarist, of the reign of Charles 2nd wrote in 1660 of having drunk "tea (A China drinke) of which I have never drunk before. He does ot say whether he liked it or not.

At that time there was some confusion as to how tea should be prepared, it could be too strong or too weak. Should it be sweetened or not?

It was Dr. Samuel Johnson who became the greatest tea drinker of the 18th century. He established the way the British drank tea. Dr. Johnson, no doubt, drank many cups of tea whilst he single-handed created a huge English dictionary in order to give himself stamina to complete his diary. His teapot was very large. He took his tea strong, with the bite of tannin tempered by a little milk, adding sugar in small lumps.

Once when he was visiting a very distinguished lady he drank 32 cups of tea. "Dr. Johnson, you drink too much tea" she said. Dr. Johnson replied "Madam you are insolent."

Clearly the very British Institution of the tea party or what the French call le five o'clock had been established.

This is still true today.

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