Tea has become quintessentially British. It slowly but surely moved itself into our culture, language and society. Tea is everywhere: We have afternoon tea, high tea, tea cakes, tea towels, tea dances, tea-time, tea for two, and when we receive a visit from our local vicar- more tea vicar? is typical in conversation.
Tea and tea-time, can be linked to the Boy George quote that he preferred a cup of tea to sex to the children’s favourite story book, The Tiger Who Came To Tea. The Beatles wooed Lovely Rita Meter Maid with it; for British music group The Kinks “It’s a cure for hepatitis, it’s a cure for chronic insomnia, it’s a cure for tonsillitis and for water on the knee” in the group’s song Have A Cuppa Tea.
But how did it all begin?
Once upon a time, when the emperor Shen Nung was travelling to a far province, he and his entourage stopped for a break, the world’s very first tea break as it turned out. Shen Nung, a scientist, knew how important it was to boil all drinking water; therefore the servants began to boil the water as they sat under camellia sinensis trees. The place was central China, the date was 2737BC, around the same time as the Egyptians started work on the pyramids of Giza.
That day, however, was to be very special: a gentle breeze blew some leaves from the camellia sinensis into the emperor’s boiling water; Shen Nung then took a sip of what was to be the world’s first cup of tea. He liked it, it caught on, took the name “tea” and has become one of the most celebrated discoveries the world has known.
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- Quintessentially(adjective) – typically
- Vicar ( noun) – man who works in the church
- Wooed ( verb) – get the affection of someone
- Entourage ( noun) – a group of people looking after you
- Breeze(noun) – a light wind
- Caught on(verb) – became successful