Sunday, June 29, 2014

Some tea trivia and some non PC tea ads



Tea was discovered by the Chinese 5,000 years ago, originally for use as a medicine, and was introduced to Britain as an expensive herbal medicine in the 17th century. The drink was so unfamiliar that many threw away the water and chewed the leaves.

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In 1773, Bostonians threw a ship's cargo of tea overboard to protest at high taxes, an act which became known as the Boston Tea Party.

The Boston Tea Party (initially referred to by John Adams as "the Destruction of the Tea in Boston") was a political protest by the Sons of Liberty against British taxation without representation. Disguised as American Indians, the demonstrators destroyed an entire shipment of tea, which had been sent by the East India Company, in defiance of the Tea Act of 1773. They boarded the ships and threw the chests of tea into Boston Harbour, ruining the tea. The British government responded harshly and the episode escalated into the American Revolution of 1776.

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The modern day Tea Party, which calls for less state intervention in key areas such as the economy and healthcare, harks back to the Tea Party of 1773. Some commentators have referred to the Tea in "Tea Party" as the backronym (amplified wording for the letters of an existing word) "Taxed Enough Already".

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Some politically incorrect tea ads from the past:




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There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and talking over its head. `Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse,' thought Alice; `only, as it's asleep, I suppose it doesn't mind.'

The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: `No room! No room!' they cried out when they saw Alice coming. `There's plenty of room!' said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

`Have some wine,' the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.

Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. `I don't see any wine,' she remarked.

`There isn't any,' said the March Hare.

`Then it wasn't very civil of you to offer it,' said Alice angrily.

`It wasn't very civil of you to sit down without being invited,' said the March Hare.

- Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Ch 7, A Mad Tea Party 

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Cecil Beaton photograph of a British soldier drinking tea next to a Red Cross mobile tea wagon at Calcutta airport in 1944.

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In 1937, seeing war with Germany as inevitable, the tea industry devised plans to make sure supplies were maintained.

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With the outbreak of war, Churchill insisted that the Royal Navy had an unrestricted supply and reserves of tea were shipped to 500 secret locations.

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On the beaches of Dunkirk, there were 24 vehicles used to deliver tea to the besieged troops.

Dunkirk Troops being given food and drink enroute by train out of Dover 

Troops evacuated from Dunkirk enjoying tea and other refreshments at Addison Road station in London, 31 May 1940.


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The word tea is pronounced “cha” in Cantonese, the name used in Japan and Korea. It has given rise to the British slang term of “char” for tea.

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At 11 o’clock in the morning, to stay alert, in England it’s common to take a break with a cup of tea and some cakes: Elevenses. Before dinner, however, you can take ‘high tea’: a kind of reinforced snack.

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Some more non-PC ads for tea:




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The tea bag was developed by Thomas Sullivan, a tea merchant based in new York. In 1908, wanting to cut costs, he stopped sending samples of tea leaves in boxes and instead sent tea sewn into small silk pouches. The confused clients were expected to remove the leaves and brew them in hot water, then strain the resulting tea brew, but mistakenly thought that the silk sachets were meant to be brewed as sent. Sullivan later replaced the silk with gauze and, over later years, further developments took place: the heat sealed paper fibre tea bag (1930) and mass production by Joseph Tetley and Co (1953).

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“Women are like tea bags. They do not know how strong they are until they get into hot water.”

- Eleanor Roosevelt.

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The teaspoon developed from using such a sized spoon to measure the preferred amount of tea for a pot.

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Earl Grey, the PM

Earl Grey, the tea

Expensive Chinese tea flavoured with various additives, including citrus blends, has been highly prized in England from the early 1800’s. Tea flavoured with bergamot oil is today known as Earl Grey blend and there are various competing explanations as to its origin. 

It is commonly believed that the earl Grey referred to is Charles Grey, the second Earl Grey, British prime Minister in the 1830’s, and one claim holds that he received the blend as a gift from a Chinese mandarin whose son was saved from drowning by one of Earl Grey’s men. Another claim is that it was developed by Jacksons of Piccadilly. According to the Grey family, the tea was specially blended by a Chinese mandarin for Lord Grey, to suit the water at Howick Hall, the family seat in Northumberland, using bergamot in particular to offset the preponderance of lime in the local water. Lady Grey used it to entertain in London as a political hostess, and it proved so popular that she was asked if it could be sold to others, which is how Twinings came to market it as a brand. 

"She feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China"
- Leonard Cohen, lyric from Suzanne 

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Final non-PC tea ads:



Is this her second cup or first? 

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