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You love tea. You collect tea pots, every celebration is a tea party and the overwhelming variety in your loose tea collection could rival the variety in most wine cellars. It makes sense that someone who loves tea this much would want to have fun with all the knowledge he or she has, so you've decided to have some tea games at your next party, complete with themed prizes for the winners. Now, you need to come up with some fun tea party games.
To entertain your guests with your knowledge of tea trivia, you should:
Someone mentioned to you that he was reading about an African tea called Rooibos, or red tea, in a mystery. You were a bit surprised because you thought tea only came in green and black. Now, you'd like to learn more about the tea history of Africa.
While red tea has been enjoyed in Africa long before the arrival of Europeans, it wasn't actually used by the Dutch arriving in the area until the 1800's, mostly because they rarely tried to learn more about local cultures. However, when these people migrated to Africa, they brought their love of tea with them. Since importing black tea to Africa from China was quite expensive and time consuming, they began paying attention to the hot beverage that local tribes drank.
Red tea didn't really become popular until an enterprising Russian emigrant began selling it to local Europeans and importing it overseas in the early 1900's. He encouraged other local settlers to create tea farms to keep up with the demand for this slightly sweet beverage, which is actually an herbal tea and is naturally caffeine free.
While it is not as popular, there is a second indigenous tea produced in Africa, as well. People who like a naturally sweet beverage would probably enjoy honeybush tea.
As you help your little princess dress in her finery, you wonder when tea became associated with elegant, formal clothing and royalty. While Belle in Beauty and the Beast has a dancing tea cup and a motherly tea pot to hang out with, the other Disney princesses don't indulge in tea parties very often. Yet, you remember doing the same thing when you were a child, complete with elegant manners. Perhaps a look at the history of tea parties will help you realize how these celebrations became such dressy and elegant affairs.
When tea was first imported to Europe, the only people who could afford it were very wealthy. Tea was naturally consumed at fairly sophisticated events and at court. From this, the tradition of dressing up to drink tea with your guests was born.
Perhaps the tea party would have become a less formal event if not for the Edwardian and Victorian eras, but the middle class dream of dressing elegantly and enjoying upper class pursuits helped the practice of dressing up become thoroughly ingrained in both British and American cultures.
In today's casual world, tea parties are still a special event, partially because tea parties provide a chance for kids and grownups to indulge in a bit of dress up.
Dutch explorers were very active in the early 1600's, so it is no surprise that the Dutch were the first people to bring tea to Europe in large enough quantities to sell. The history of tea drinking in Holland began when this novelty drink was enjoyed by Dutch royalty. Soon, when it was imported in larger quantities, the merchant class began to enjoy tea, too.
Holland is usually credited with being the birthplace of the tea party. Members of the merchant class enjoyed spending time throwing parties for their friends and they naturally wanted to impress everyone with their ability to afford this exclusive new beverage. They provided tea at all of these gatherings, which evolved into tea parties. In fact, tea parties were so popular that people demanded that they be stopped because they felt that these gatherings were causing moral decay.
To fight the British takeover of the tea trade in the mid 1600's, Holland tried slashing tea prices. However, the Dutch plan backfired when England refused to allow Holland to sell any more tea to British merchants. While the Dutch people continued to enjoy tea, Holland was no longer a major contender in the tea trade.
As you reach for your tea cup, something falls into it. You gingerly fish out a flower petal and push the vase filled with roses further away from the cup. As you try to decide if it is necessary to brew a new cup of tea, you remember a story someone told you about the history of drinking tea in China. Didn't someone say that tea was discovered in the first place when a leaf fell into a cup of hot water?
A legend about the discovery of tea does say that an emperor found out about the wonders of tea in just this way over four thousand years ago. He was certainly fortunate that tea leaves fell into his water rather than poisonous leaves from another shrub.
After this discovery long ago, China began a love affair with tea that is still going strong today. Chinese doctors quickly found that tea seemed to have medicinal qualities and prescribed tea as a treatment for health conditions.
As we reached 1000 A.D., Chinese tea houses and traditional Chinese tea ceremonies began to evolve and tea became much more than a drink. Serving tea is a ritual that still has cultural significance today.
If you walked up to a Russian person today and told him or her that a Russian Czar turned down the gift of massive amounts of tea that China sent to him as a good will gift in the 1600's because he considered tea to be a worthless gift, you'd probably leave the person you were talking to speechless. While Russians today love tea as passionately as they love a good bottle of vodka, this wasn't always the case.
Luckily, by the end of the 17th century, Russia had come to realize how marvelous this beverage is and actually created a treaty with China just to protect its access to tea. By the early 1800's, tea was definitely an important part of most Russians' lives. China could barely keep up with the increasing demand for tea. After all, it wasn't a matter of packing a few crates on a ship or a plane and sending them on their way. Delivering tea during this era meant a long journey by camel through very inhospitable conditions.
As they enjoyed their new beverage, Russians developed a way to prepare and drink tea that worked well in their cold climate. This method, which was created during the 1800's, is still popular today. To prepare tea the Russian way, you make a tea concentrate, which is then diluted with water that has been heated in a special pot called a samovar.
As you take three seconds to grab a tea pouch and drop it into the tea pot, you wonder how people brewed tea in ancient China. Did they also use a pouch to brew their tea in? Actually, the tea pouch is a fairly new invention. The history of tea brewing actually needs to give a great deal of credit to a man who simply wanted to save on shipping costs.
In ancient China, tea was first brewed by simply dropping leaves into a pot of hot water and then straining off the beverage. Someone decided it would be easier to work with a powdered tea around 1000 A.D. and crushed his leaves into fine particles. However, powdered tea didn't remain popular for long. Soon, people were turning whole leaves into the loose tea that we still see today.
Of course, storing loose tea is a challenge. Tins are usually used to hold the tea so it stays fresh and clean. However, if a tin that isn't closed properly gets knocked off a shelf, the tea is often lost when the tin hits the floor. Tins are also not the easiest containers to open. Prying off the lid, scooping out the proper amount of tea, placing the leaves in your pot and then straining the tea into a cup can be frustrating, too.
The solution to easy tea storage and brewing came about when Thomas Sullivan decided to send tea samples to potential customers in little bags instead of tins. Tea bags caught on quickly because they were convenient to use and easy to store.
Today, there are some new innovations, such as the tea pouch, that continue to improve the tea brewing process.