Two Leaves and a Bud Blog

Top five tea tidbits

Do you like a good piece of trivia as much as we do? This may seem like a no-brainer, but we like bits of tea-related trivia even more.

Chinese Emperor Shennong, upon the happy accident that may have been the first cuppa' tea

Like many things with a lengthy history, a great deal of legend and myth surrounds the story behind drinking tea. Take, for instance, the legend behind how someone figured out in the first place that if you take leaves from the Camellia sinensis bush and add hot water, you end up with a unique drink. On our website we mention just one such legend: Around 2737 BC, Shennong, the Emperor of China and inventor of Chinese medicine, was drinking a bowl of boiled water when a leaf from a nearby Camellia sinensis bush fell into his drink. He sipped, he liked it, end of story.

And we say, who really knows? Isn't it awfully coincidental that he was the Emperor of China? Or did the discovery turn him into the Emperor of China?

So, here are a few fun tea tidbits. Some are historical fact, some are just nice stories that might be closer to fiction.

The Legend of Earl Grey

Italian bergamot oranges, the impetus for Earl Grey tea

Your favorite cuppa' Earl Grey is flavored with bergamot oil, derived from Italian bergamot oranges. Legend has it that the Earl Charles Grey was shipping black tea and these oranges in the same cargo. Since tea easily absorbs odor, his black tea soaked up the delicious orange scent, and his namesake tea was born.

The convenient mistake that is teabags

Around 1908, Thomas Sullivan, a New York tea merchant, started sending samples of his tea to customers in small silken bags. Some customers decided not to open the bags, and put the entire bag into the tea pot, instead of using a metal infuser. Sullivan responded to this by making gauze bags, which we all agree to this day make drinking tea anywhere a snap.

It ain't no tablespoon

The term "teaspoon" does, in fact, have tea origins. Think about it — when you're making loose tea, you use one spoon of loose tea per cup. It's a teaspoon.

For a meal or a snack

The English tradition of afternoon tea is thought to have started with the 7th Dutchess of Bedford, who served tea in the afternoons to bridge the lag between lunch and dinner. "High tea" may have become ubiquitous in English society when the working class began drinking tea in the later afternoon as their main meal of the day.

At first flush

The Hills of Darjeeling

Tea pluckers during first flush in Darjeeling

Tea leaves are harvested in "flushes," which is considered a very significant indicator of the quality of tea at hand. "First Flush Darjeeling" is perhaps best known as high quality; prized for its light and floral flavor. The second flush of Darjeeling, just a few weeks later, can be darker in the cup and differs significantly in flavor.

Do you have any tea tidbits you'd like to share?

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