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Title: Tea - Its Mystery and History
Author: Day, Samuel Phillips
Language: English
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[Illustration: LO FONG LOH, C.I.C.S.






  _Author of “Food Papers: a Popular Treatise on Dietetics,” etc._


  _Secretary to the Chinese Educational Mission in Europe_.


  “The Sovereign drink of Pleasure and of Health.”

  _Price One Shilling._

          THE AUTHOR.




  NOTES ON THE CHINESE LANGUAGE                                       ix

  EXTRACT FROM MR. LO FONG LOH’S JOURNAL                             xii


  LEGENDARY ORIGIN OF THE PLANT                                       17


  INTRODUCTION OF TEA INTO ENGLAND                                    27


  APPRECIATION OF THE LEAF                                            36


  THE PLANT BOTANICALLY CONSIDERED                                    39


  HISTORY OF THE TEA TRADE                                            48


  THE COLOURING OF THE LEAF                                           57


  SOCIAL CHARACTER OF THE BEVERAGE                                    60


  THE “DRINK OF HEALTH”                                               70


  THE VIRTUES OF THE LEAF                                             78


  A CUP OF TEA                                                        90




The Chinese writing is eminently picturesque; and as the language
admits of no alphabet, all ideas and objects are conveyed through the
medium of groups of characters, each group representing a series of
impressions, or opinions. By an ingenious and elaborate combination of
strokes, upwards of 40,000 distinct symbols are perfected. This vast
array has given rise to the amusing, but erroneous notion, that the
Chinese pass their lives in learning to read; so that old and infirm
scholars, after having devoted all their days to its accomplishment,
have departed this life with the task undone.

Ideographic and phonetic at the same time, the mechanism of the
language is intelligible only to a few Europeans; but it is truly
surprising that the vernacular of 400,000,000 of our fellow-men, whose
literature dates from the time of King David, and whose yearly exchange
of merchandise with England amounts to £40,000,000 sterling, should
have been so long wrapped in oblivion.

China does not possess, as we do, public libraries and reading rooms,
but all who have a taste for reading or desire instruction can readily
satisfy their need, as books are sold in the Celestial Empire at prices
lower than in any other country in the world; further, all the finest
quotations from the best authors are found written on the pagodas,
public monuments, façades of tribunals, signs of the shops, doors of
houses, and interior of apartments, so that, in fact, China may be
likened to a huge library, where rich and poor alike can enjoy their
country’s literature, and it is deserving of remark that the general
prosperity and peace of China has been much promoted by the diffusion
of knowledge and education throughout the lower classes.

The construction of the Chinese symbols varies from the square
character to the more cursive character of the Seal and Grass, peculiar
for their obscurity. The six styles of writing are as follows:--Chuen
shoo, or Seal character; Le shoo, or Official character; Keae shoo, or
Model character; Hing shoo, or Running character; Tsaov shoo, or Grass
character; and Sung shoo, or Sung dynasty character. The preface to
this book is written by Lo Fong Loh, Esq., in the “running” character,
and is undoubtedly a perfect specimen of caligraphy; his translation is
rendered in the following pages.



Among the several places of interest in London, visited by H. E. Li
Fung Pao (Director of the Chinese Educational Mission) and myself
during our six months’ sojourn therein, I could not fail to be
impressed with the Tea Establishment of Messrs. Horniman and Co.,
Wormwood Street. The first department to which our attention was
directed, is called the “Blending Floors.” Here we observed divers
descriptions of Tea, which had been shipped from different countries
in the Eastern Hemisphere. Although we do not profess to be _au
courant_ with regard to that particular article of domestic use, still
we happen to come from the Tea districts of China, and therefore took
the opportunity of examining some specimens of the tropical leaf.

We are aware that in commerce there is a special kind of so-called Tea,
denominated “Reviving Leaf,” a spurious production, so coloured and
prepared as to deceive the eye of all but experts. This manipulated
“presentment” of the genuine commodity was not among the varieties;
and we are satisfied that Messrs. Horniman’s Teas are perfectly
unsophisticated and natural growths, free from all adventitious
“additions.” The effect of blending the various descriptions of Tea is
to make the flavour uniform, and thus to meet the wants and tastes of
the consumers.

One thing particularly struck us during our visit. This was the vast
quantity of Tea in stock, both in the Warehouses and the Wholesale
Establishment. Upon enquiring of the Head of the Firm, whether all
their importations are consumed by the people of the United Kingdom,
the reply was, that “A considerable portion thereof is exported to
European countries.” This circumstance convinced us that the Teas are
blended with marked technical skill, in order to suit the various
tastes and likings of divers individuals and nationalities.

When H. E. Li and myself were passing through the “Blending Floors,”
the first remark made to me by H. E. was this: he observed that “In
China, Tea Merchants invariably separate the different qualities of
the leaf; while the practice in this country seemed to be the very
reverse.” I explained to him the reason of such usage, comparing it to
the composition of a book. First, you collect information of sundry
kinds; anon, proceed to classify the same; and, finally, artistically
blend the whole for the general advantage. The Chinese merchants having
performed the first part, Messrs. Horniman & Co. effect the other
equally important portions.

Upon entering what is deemed the “Testing Room,” we noticed a
collection of tiny China cups, filled with infusions of the leaf.
Albeit we did not then taste the tempting liquid, nevertheless we
could not avoid being favourably impressed with the delicate aroma and
excellent colour of the beverage.

The next department we inspected was the “Weighing Floors,” which
proved no less a source of interest. In this place the Tea is weighed
previous to its being put into packages, varying in size from two
ounces to several pounds weight. While the smaller packages are neatly
enclosed in tinfoil, so as to prevent the leaf suffering injury through
the action of damp or exposure, the larger sorts and for export are
done up in tins, securely closed, to obviate the admission of air.

In the adjoining department, or “Labelling Room,” the various packages
are labelled (the labels being printed in nine languages), on a similar
principle to that adopted by the Chinese themselves.

Shortly after my arrival in England, I felt distressed respecting
the means of procuring pure Tea, not drinking coloured Tea in my own
country. I experienced that some of the largest hotels and leading
restaurants seldom produced a beverage such as I could with pleasure
drink. Upon trying the Tea supplied by Messrs. Horniman’s Agents, I
found it excellent in every respect, and like to that I have been
accustomed to use when at home.

One object of my official visit to Europe being to collect special
information bearing on the Industrial Arts, as evidences of Western
civilisation, I must confess that both H. E. Li and myself derived
mutual pleasure and profit in going over Messrs. Horniman’s


_London, May, 1878._






According to the most authentic Chinese historians, the Tea plant was
introduced from the Corea in the eighth century, during the dynasty
of Lyang. Being both approved of and much relished by the Emperor it
was extensively cultivated, so that it rapidly became popular with all
sections of the community. As this story was too prosaic for general
acceptation, the masses, and even certain sceptical _literati_, readily
received a more poetical account, which, like many of our own nursery
tales, veils some political allegory.

The story runs, that in the year 510, an Indian prince--one Darma,
third son of King Kosjusva--famed throughout the East for his religious
zeal, landed in China on a Missionary enterprise. He devoted all his
time and thought to the diffusion of a knowledge of God. In order
to set an example of piety to others, he imposed on himself various
privations and mortifications, forswore sleep, and, living mostly in
the open air, devoted himself to prayer, preaching, and contemplation.
However, after several years passed in this excessively austere
manner, he involuntarily fell asleep. Upon awaking, so distressed was
he at having violated his oath that, to prevent a repetition of such
backsliding and never again permit “tired eyelids” to “rest on tired
eyes,” he cut off those offending portions of his body, and flung them
on the ground. Returning next day to the same spot, he discovered that
his eyelids had undergone a strange metamorphosis, having been changed
into a shrub the like of which had never before been seen upon the
earth. Having eaten some of the leaves, he found his spirits singularly
exhilarated thereby; while his former vigour was restored. Hence he
recommended the newly-discovered boon to his disciples and followers,
so that after a time the use of Tea rapidly spread. A portrait of
Darma is given by Kæmpfu, the first authoritative writer on China. At
the foot of the portrait is the representation of a reed, supposed to
be indicative of the religious enthusiast having crossed rivers and
seas in the pursuit of his mission. It is by no means difficult, out
of this wonderful legend, to extract a moral, namely, that an earnest
individual, who had acquired the useful habit of keeping his eyes open,
discovered one of Nature’s secrets, which had entirely escaped the
observation of all others.

Towards the close of the sixteenth century, a learned physician of
Padua--one Giovanni Bolero--published a work “On the Causes of the
Magnificence and Greatness of Cities.” Therein, while treating of the
Orient, he observes: “The Chinese have an herb out of which they press
a delicate juice that serves them for drink instead of wine; it also
preserves their health and frees them from all those evils which the
use of wine produces among ourselves.” Albeit the allusion is somewhat
cloudy, still no doubt exists but that the celebrated Paduan refers to
Tea. This is supposed to be the earliest mention of the plant by any
European writer.

It is curious that among the many wonderful things which Marco
Polo--the great traveller of his day--saw in China, he omits to mention
the Tea plant either as shrub or beverage. This omission is the more
unaccountable inasmuch as both himself and his father (whose voyages
he records) must have visited districts wherein Tea was in common use.
The early Portuguese navigators are equally silent on this matter, nor
is mention made thereof in the logs of our own freebooting Sea Kings.
These, however, troubled themselves less about botany than the broad
pieces to be found in the holds of the Spanish King’s galleons. Had Sir
Walter Raleigh, who travelled West instead of East, accompanied his
friend Drake on his famous voyage round the world, he might have added
to his discoveries of the potato and tobacco plants of America, that of
Tea in China. The honour of introducing the refreshing and invigorating
leaf to Europe was, clearly, not reserved for English travellers.
This honour is properly claimed by the Portuguese, although they had
been trading for many years with the Chinese before they made the
discovery, just about the close of the sixteenth century.

[Illustration: A TEA GARDEN.--The Tea plant flourishes best in the
provinces of To-kien, Kiang-su, Hoonam and Hoopels. The first crop is
gathered in the early spring.]

Shortly after Tea had become a popular beverage in China, it was
exported to Japan, the only nation with which the Chinese were suffered
to hold intercourse. In those islands it assumed even a more important
position than it held in the “Flowery Land,” so that to be able to
make and serve the beverage with a polished grace was recognised as an
indubitable sign of a polite and aristocratic education. The Japanese
devoted their artistic and mechanical skill to the production of
tea-caddies, tea-trays, tea-pots, and tea-cups and saucers, remarkable
for exquisiteness of design no less than peculiarity of fabric.
Tea-houses were opened in the leading cities of Japan. These were
frequented by the Daimios, or lesser nobles, and the lower classes
alike, who took their chief pleasure in such popular resorts.

Eminent writers, also, considered it no indignity to extol the precious
beverage. What Bacchanalian and hunting songs, cavalier and sea songs,
rhapsodical treatises in laudation of hunting, coaching, and so forth,
are to the literature of England, such was Tea to the writers, artists,
and musicians of China and Japan. In other words their Dickenses,
their Goldsmiths, their Nimrods, their Dibdins, their Tom Moores, and
their Leeches, instead of having a wide variety of topics to treat
of, as was the case with their English compeers, were confined to
one subject--Tea. Indeed, each plantation was supposed to possess
its peculiar virtues and excellences, like to the slightly varying
vineyards of the Rhine, the Rhone, the Garonne, or the Moselle. Each
had its poet to sing its praises in running rhymes. In illustration,
one Chinese bard, who seemingly was an Anacreon in his way, magnifies
the shrub that grows on the Mong-shan mountains, in the territory of
Ya-chew, in words which, literally translated, mean:--

    “One ounce doth all disorders cure,
    With two your troubles will be few’r;
    Three to the bones more vigour give;
    With four for ever you will live,
    As young as on your day of birth,
    A true Isyen[A] upon the earth.”

    [A] An immortal.

However hyperbolical this testimony may be considered, it at least
serves to show the high estimation in which Tea was held. This
fact furnishes the best possible answer to the silly objections
of certain modern writers who would fain have us believe that the
Chinese cultivate Tea, not for their own consumption, but to sell to
foreigners. The only gleam of truth latent in so manifestly absurd an
assertion being that the Celestials invariably drink the _pure_ Tea,
not that which has undergone artificial preparation for those outer
barbarians, the English consumers, it being an admitted fact that they
prepare Tea “to order,” and can by the aid of mineral facing-powder
transform black Tea into green, or green Tea into black at pleasure.
Such transformation, however, only alters the appearance to the eye;
the quality, inferior or otherwise, remains concealed.

In due time Tea became, not simply in China and Japan, but also in
India and Persia, the drink of ceremony, just as is coffee with the
Turks and Arabs, and wine with ourselves. A little over two centuries
since, a French traveller in Persia gravely imagined that what
constituted a hospitable custom, was a universal desire to administer
medicine. He avers that people “assigned to Tea such extravagant
qualities that, imagining it alone able to keep a man in constant
health, they treated those who came to visit them with this drink
at all hours.” This statement might be paralleled by an Eastern
writer who, treating of England, should use the same sentence, merely
substituting the word “wine” for “Tea,” and he may add, “to increase
the beneficial influence of the beverage, in many instances they make
cabalistic movements with the glasses, sometimes clinking the edges
together, meanwhile uttering the talismanic words, ‘Your health!’ which
are supposed to possess some potent charm.”





Before Tea found its way to England, it had been brought to Holland,
thanks to the treaty made by the Dutch with the Japanese. If the
Dutchman, as a rule, did not forego his favourite lager and schnapps to
take to Tea so readily as did the English, nevertheless, there were not
wanting upholders of the new beverage in the land of “dykes, ducks, and
Dutchmen,” as somebody construed Voltaire’s famous “_cancana, canards,
canaille_.” The first to advocate the wonderful leaf was Cornelius
Bontekoe, principal physician to the Elector of Brandenburgh, a
Professor in the University of Leyden, and a man of more than ordinary
eminence. In a treatise on “Tea, Coffee, and Chocolate,” published in
1679, he strongly pronounces in favour of the first-named drink, and
denies the possibility of its being hurtful to health, even if taken
in such an inordinate quantity as one or two hundred cups a day, a
statement as extravagant as it is impracticable.

The introduction of Tea into England is by some presumed to date from
the year of our Lord 1652. If such be authentic, the quantity of the
leaf imported during the Commonwealth must have been extremely limited,
probably not exceeding a few pounds, such as Blake and “sea-dogs” of
his order discovered in the cabins of ships they had captured from the
Dutch. Equally questionable is the statement of other authorities,
who give the year 1666 as that wherein the first importation of Tea
took place. No doubt, many important events were commonly attributed
to the year 1666, which the poet Dryden had essayed to render more
remarkable still by his poem on the _Annus Mirabilis_. Lords Arlington
and Orrery are credited with having first rendered the drinking of Tea
fashionable. Six years previous to the remarkable year just noticed,
Pepys records in his “Diary”: “I sent for a cup of Tea, a Chinese
drink, of which I had never drunk before.” So that it is evident the
rare beverage was then coming into use. Shortly afterwards a measure
passed the legislature, enacting that an impost of eightpence per
gallon should be paid on all Tea prepared and sold in coffee-houses.

[Illustration: GATHERING THE SPRING CROP.--The leaves are plucked with
great care, not more than one being plucked from the stalk at a time;
notwithstanding this, an expert can gather 10 to 13 lbs. per day.]

A singular handbill was issued by Thomas Garway, the founder of
Garraway’s somewhat famous coffee-house, in Exchange (subsequently
Exchange-alley). This announcement was by chance discovered some years
since in a volume of pamphlets in the “King’s Library,” British Museum,
where it may still be inspected. Albeit the document bears no date,
but there is ample internal evidence to prove that it had been printed
about the year 1660. It purposes to be “An exact description of the
growth, quality, and virtues of the leaf Tea, by Thomas Garway, in
Exchange-alley, near the Royal Exchange, in London, Tobacconist and
Seller and Retailer of Tea and Coffee.”

Subjoined is the quaint description given of the plant:--

  “Tea is generally brought from China, and groweth there upon little
  shrubs and bushes, the branches whereof are well garnished with
  white flowers, that are yellow within, of the bigness and fashion
  of sweet-briar, but in smell unlike, bearing their green leaves,
  about the bigness of scordium, myrtle, or sumach, and is judged to
  be a kind of sumach. This plant hath been reported to grow wild
  only, but doth not; for they plant it in their gardens, about
  four foot distance, and it groweth about four foot high, and of
  the seeds they maintain and increase their stock. Of all places
  in China this plant groweth in greatest plenty in the province of
  Xemsi, latitude 36°, bordering upon the west of the province of
  Nanking, near the city of Luchow, the Island de Ladrones and Japan,
  and is called ‘Cha.’ Of this famous leaf there are divers sorts
  (though all one shape), some much better than others, the upper
  leaves excelling the others in fineness, a property almost in all
  plants; which leaves they gather every day, and drying them in
  the shade, or in iron pans over a gentle fire, till the humidity
  be exhausted, then put close up in leaden pots, preserve them for
  their drink. _Tea_, which is used at meals and upon all visits and
  entertainments in private families, and in the palaces of grandees;
  and it is owned by a padee of Macas, native of Japan, that the best
  Tea ought to be gathered by virgins, who are destined for this work.

       *       *       *       *       *

  “The said leaf is of such known virtues, that those very nations
  so famous for antiquity, knowledge, and wisdom, do frequently sell
  it among themselves for twice its weight in silver, and the high
  estimation of the drink made there-with hath occasioned an inquiry
  into the nature thereof amongst the most intelligent persons of all
  nations that have travelled in those parts, who after exact tryal
  and experience by all wayes imaginable, have commended it to the
  use of their several countries, and for its virtues and operations.
  The quality is moderately hot, proper for winter and summer. The
  drink is declared to be most wholesome, preserving in perfect
  health until extreme old age.”

Then the writer proceeds at considerable length to enumerate the
“Vertues” of Tea, some of which are decidedly apocryphal. Amongst
other properties attributed to the beverage are those of making
the body active and lusty, helping the headache, giddiness, and
heaviness, removing difficulty of breathing, clearing the sight,
removing lassitude, strengthening the stomach and liver, causing good
appetite and digestion, vanquishing heavy dreams, easing the frame,
strengthening the memory, preventing sleepiness, “so that whole nights
may be spent in study without hurt to the body,” strengthening the
inward parts and preventing consumption, especially when drank with
milk. “And that the virtues and excellencies of this leaf and drink,”
continues Mr. Garway, “are many and great is evident and manifest by
the high esteem and use of it among the physicians and knowing men
of France, Italy, Holland, and other parts of Christendom, while in
England it hath been sold in the leaf for six pounds, and sometimes
ten pounds for the one pound weight; and in respect of its former
scarceness and dearness, it hath only been used as a regalia in high
treatments, and presents made thereof to princes and grandees till the
year 1657.

“The said Thomas Garway,” so the handbill proceeds, “did purchase a
quantity thereof and first publicly sold the said Tea in leaf and
drink, made according to the directions of the most knowing merchants
and travellers in those Eastern countries, and upon knowledge and
experience of the said Thomas Garway’s continual care and industry in
obtaining the best Tea, and making drink thereof, very many noblemen,
physicians, and merchants, and gentlemen of quality, have ever since
sent to him for the said leaf, and daily resort to his house in
Exchange-alley aforesaid, to drink the drink thereof.”

Finally the writer closes his remarkable encomium in these words:
“And that ignorance nor envy may have no ground or power to report or
suggest that which is here asserted of the vertues and excellences of
this precious leaf and drink hath more of design than truth, for its
justification of himself and the satisfaction of others he hath here
enumerated several authors who in their learned works have expressly
written and asserted the same and much more in honour of his noble
leaf and drink, viz.:--Bontius, Riccius, Jarricas, Almeyda, Horstius,
Alvarez, Sameda, Martinivus in his _China Atlas_, and Alexander de
Rhodes in _Voyage and Missions_, in a large discourse of the ordering
of this leaf and the many vertues of the drink; printed at Paris, 1653,
part x. chap. 13. And to the end that all persons of eminency and
quality, gentlemen and others, who have occasion for Teas in leaf, may
be supplied, these are to give notice that the said Thomas hath Tea to
sell from _sixteen to fifty shillings in the pound_.”

Doubtless if the beverage possessed even but a tithe of the virtues
and excellences attributed to it by the celebrated Garway, it must be
regarded as the crowning boon of Nature to man.




That the worthy Thomas Garway, to whom reference is made in the
preceding Chapter, gave rather undue license to his imagination in
extolling the virtues of his cherished beverage is manifest. His
handbill, however, is not only curious but interesting, if on no other
account than that of illustrating the mode of advertising to which he
resorted, in order to spread the fame of the precious leaf and dispose
of his commodity. It is likewise noteworthy on account of the fame
which “Garway’s Tea” had acquired and maintained for two centuries.

The original name “Garway” was changed or “restored” by his son to
“Garraway,” while the House which bore this appellation became renowned
far and wide. Here it was that the numerous schemes which surrounded
and accompanied the great South Sea Bubble, had their centre.
Appropriately enough also, “Garraway’s” was the head-quarters of the
remarkable Tea speculation of 1841–2, when prices fluctuated sixpence
and eightpence per pound; and when people were suddenly smitten with
the mania for dealing in Tea, just as at other times a rage obtained
for speculating in railways, mines, foreign funds, or finance.

Albeit Garway evidently prospered in his special branch of trade,
yet it is probable that the rapid popularity which Tea had acquired
was less indebted to the “learned and knowing” authorities he quoted
in his handbill, than to royal patronage. It appears that Catherine
of Braganza, queen of Charles II., who had tasted the beverage in
Portugal, and grew enamoured with the same, brought it into fashion
in this country. Her fondness for the soothing cup was extreme. Its
subsequent popularity, however, may fairly be attributed to its innate
valuable properties, which became the more understood and prized in
proportion as the public grew more addicted to its daily use. Ladies
of _ton_ delighted in their “dish of Tea,” which was indispensable to
their comfort. Authors also discovered its advantages as a beverage to
work upon; while poets and essayists lauded it well nigh in terms of
extravagant eulogy, such as had been employed by Chinese and Japanese
men of letters before them.

Almost the first literary eulogist to espouse the cause of the new
drink was Edmund Waller. He recites how he became induced to taste Tea,
owing to a parcel of the leaf being presented to him in the year 1664,
by a member of the Jesuit Order, who had recently returned from China.
In the poem which furnishes several references to the infused leaf
occurs the following pregnant allusion:--

    “The Muses friend, Tea, doth our fancy aid,
    Repress those vapours which the head invade,
    And keeps that palace of the soul serene.”

Byron, in later times, became an enthusiast in its favour, averring
that he

    “Must have recourse to black Bohea:”

while he pronounces green Tea

    “The Chinese nymph of tears.”




The Linnæan system of Botany classifies the Tea plant with the
_Polyandria_, and of the order _Monogynia_. What is styled the “Natural
System” associates it with the family of the Camellia. The Tea plant,
which is an evergreen, grows to the height of five or six feet. The
leaves are about an inch and a half long, being narrow, indented, and
tapering to a point, similar to those of the sweetbriar. The colour
is a dark green. The root is like that of the peach-tree, while the
flowers resemble the wild rose. A number of irregular branches issue
from the stem. The fruit is small, containing round blackish seeds,
about the size of a bean. The shrub must have at least a three years’
growth before it is fit for being plucked. This valuable plant is
largely cultivated not only in China but also in India, Japan, and the
Eastern Archipelago. There are two primary kinds of Tea, namely the
_Thea viridis_, or green shrub, and the _Thea Bohea_, or black plant.
The former delights in elevated situations and a temperate climate;
the latter requires the protection of valleys, the sloping sides of
mountains, and the banks of rivers, with a more tropical sun. To the
situations and the temperatures the delicate flavour of the green and
the greater astringency of the black Tea, are mainly due.

In England, at one period, all descriptions of black Tea were
denominated _Bohea_. It is known, however, that this particular title
belongs exclusively to inferior varieties, and in no way includes
such superior products as Congou, Souchong, Pekoe, and I may add
Caper, which is regarded as a fancy growth, and never imported into
this country, unless adulterated. Of the green Teas, the commonest
and cheapest is Twankay, the finest sort being Hyson, which comprises
Young Hyson and Gunpowder. There are a number of intermediate and less
known varieties, to which must be added the fine growths of Assam
and other provinces of British India. The Tea plant may be cultivated
with more or less success in climates within 35° or 40° of the Equator.
Some writers affirm that so long as the temperature be suitable,
the character of the soil is of little importance. Others, on the
contrary, assert that Tea will grow in any part of China or India, even
much further north than I have mentioned. The balance of experience,
however, is against them.

[Illustration: WEIGHING.--This illustration is from a photograph,
showing the manner of weighing tea, and payment of wages. The leaf is
subsequently prepared by firing.]

As regards the quality of Tea, this must depend not only on its variety
and growth, but also on the time during which the leaves are gathered.
Directly the refreshing spring showers have passed off, and a gracious
sunshine succeeds, which, aided by drying winds, chases away each
leaflet’s tears, the Tea harvesting season commences with vigour.
Hundreds, and occasionally thousands, of little merry leaf-gatherers
may be seen sallying forth at early morning to their pleasant labour,
singing, laughing, prattling, and dancing as they go. Then when the
mid-day gong sounds, work ceases for the nonce, when these pretty,
black-eyed, dark-haired damsels squat in groups among the bushes,
while they partake of their frugal meal of rice, moistened by copious
draughts of hot weak Tea. Immense care is necessary in order to protect
the delicate young leaf from injury. As a rule, the girls employed
undergo a species of training to prepare them for their work. Not only
so, but while engaged in plucking the flowery Pekoe they wear gloves
of perfumed leather. Every leaf has to be plucked separately. Still
so expert are the pluckers that an average gathering would amount to
twelve pounds weight daily for each person. There are three seasons.
The first commences at the end of February, or the beginning of March;
the second about the end of March, or the first week of April; third
at the end of May, or in June. The earliest leaves constitute the most
exquisite and expensive teas; while the second crop forms the largest
proportion of the entire produce.

The best description is the produce of the early spring when the leaves
are young and small. But many growers, for the sake of increased
quantity, prefer gathering the leaves later in the season, when they
are not simply larger, heavier, and more numerous, but when they have
lost much of their pristine flavour. Of course, only experts, who
devote their lives to the work, can distinguish the difference between
the various growths of early spring or late autumn. Consequently, the
ordinary consumer of Tea is compelled to trust to the integrity of the
particular retailer from whom he procures this commodity. But as the
majority of retail grocers do not profess to know the true value of
Tea, it follows that they in their turn, have to place implicit trust
in the better judgment of the wholesale dealer, commercial traveller,
or middle man with whom they do business.

Tracing the history of Tea to a very early period, we find that
complaints of adulteration were very prevalent. In England the chief
deception practised, consisted in the admixture of sloe and other
leaves with the genuine article. The re-drying of leaves that had been
already used was a malpractice equally as disgraceful. The Tea so
tampered with was little better than a mass of woody fibre, destitute
of those chemical properties upon the presence of which the value and
virtue of this tropical beverage depend. More mischievous still was
the practice adopted some time since by which an ingenious mixture of
sumach leaves and catechu was made to resemble Tea, so that ordinary
persons could not detect the counterfeit. Yet, notwithstanding the
last-mentioned substance, from its powerfully astringent action on
the system, was calculated to induce serious mischief to health, this
objectionable compound was literally sold under the protection of a
patent, and was known in the trade as “La Veno Beno, the Chinese Tea
Improver.” The public, however, heard nothing of this impudent fraud,
until after the scheme succeeded and all the mischief had been done.

Bad as are the adulterations of the leaf practised in this country,
those adopted by the Chinese are even worse. Not very long since, much
commotion was created respecting “Lie Tea,” which was thrust in the
market. This “base presentment” consisted either wholly, or in great
part, of leaves which had no affiliation whatever to the Tea plant, but
consisted of leaves and weeds gathered anyhow, then rolled and dried,
and artificially flavoured so as to resemble the genuine article. With
reference to what is called green Tea, the system frequently pursued in
its preparation is highly reprehensible. The Green Teas sold in England
are usually artificially coloured in order to enamour the eye of the
unsuspecting purchaser. The principal medium employed in effecting this
result is none other than Prussian blue, a deadly poison, and inimical
to health even in the minutest quantity. According to Mr. Fortune, no
less a proportion than half-a-pound is used to every hundred weight of

Although botanists have divided Tea into two species, still the black
and green descriptions are but varieties of the same plant. Practically
it is found more convenient to cultivate each sort separately, certain
districts favouring the specific growths. But any description of black
Tea can, in the process of drying, be converted into green. Of course
the Chinese never touch these artificially-coloured products. They have
too much good sense for that. While they consider the English fools for
their pains, inasmuch as the pretty colour tickles their fancy, and
they are induced to pay a higher price for the sophisticated commodity.





In 1658, the Honourable East India Company directed to be “sent home by
their ships one hundred pounds weight of the best Tea they could get,”
this doubtless being considered a pretty large supply. The company had
previously presented to Catherine of Braganza, on her birthday, a chest
containing twenty-two pounds--a notable gift commemorated by Waller.
In 1671 came the Ty-wan present from the Ruler of Bantam. During the
three subsequent years, the company bought of Mr. Thomas Garway and
others 562½ lbs. of Tea, which was either given away or consumed by
the Court of Committee. From 1675 to 1677, no record exists of either
purchases or imports. Hence, it is evident that Tea was not regarded
as a source of private revenue at that period. Who could have fancied
the marvellous change that a century or two would effect? Who could
have thought that the Tea trade was destined to become one of the most
important branches of our commerce, and not only so, but to occasion
several wars, lead to the extension of our Eastern possessions, and
precipitate the great Chinese exodus, which threatens such important
results to the Pacific States of America, to Australia, the Polynesian
Islands, and possibly to the world at large?

There is nothing in the history of commerce so marvellous as the
growth and development of the trade in Tea. In 1675, the importation
of this commodity rose to 4,713 lbs. But this enormous quantity
manifestly overstocked the market for seven years afterwards. In 1685,
the importations amounted to a little over 12,000 lbs. Four years
later, 25,000 lbs. arrived, which caused the market to be glutted for
a lengthened period, giving rise to considerable depression in that
special branch of commerce. About this period the duty was taken off
the “made” Tea, and a regular impost of five shillings per pound
imposed. During the first twelve years of the eighteenth century, the
total quantity of Tea imported was 1,102,070 lbs., showing an average
of 91,922½ lbs. This result is the more remarkable as it exceeded the
previously unheard of quantity imported in 1700. Yet we find that
in the eleven years succeeding, this amount became nearly doubled,
probably owing to a reduction of duty to four shillings a pound, in
addition to a Customs’ impost of 14 per cent. The Tea trade, still
ever augmenting, received a further impetus in 1746, when the duty was
reduced to one shilling a pound, the Customs’ duty being fixed at 25
per cent. During the following twelve years the average importation
amounted to 2,558,080 lbs. Another period of eight years (1760–67)
gives an average of 4,333,267 lbs. Then taking an additional ten years
to complete the century, the first really commercial importation of
4713 lbs. in 1778, had grown to an average of 6,948,238 lbs., and
this, notwithstanding that besides the 25 per cent. Customs’ duty and
the one shilling per pound Excise impost, there had been imposed an
additional Excise 30 per cent. Further, in the concluding six years of
the century, the Tea importations had further augmented to 21,706,718
lbs., the 91,183 lbs. of 1700 having become a century later upwards of
_twenty-five million pounds_.

In 1784 the Commutation Act passed the Legislature. By its provisions
the East India Company were compelled to make quarterly sales of
Tea, to sell even as low as one penny a pound above prime cost, and
to keep a sufficient quantity for one year’s consumption always on
hand. The same year Mr. Pitt reduced the duty to 12½ per cent., to
which act is ascribed the enormous increase in the trade. Although in
1795 the duty was raised to 20 per cent., still the consumption of
Tea increased. Early in the nineteenth century other fiscal changes
occurred. The Customs’ duty, for example, was fixed at 6 per cent., and
the Excise duty 90 per cent. in value; while in 1819 the former impost
was repealed, and the latter made cent. per cent. However, nothing
that statesmen or financiers could effect seemed to check the growing
fondness of English people of all social grades for their cherished
beverage. Accordingly we find that during the first twenty-seven years
of the present century--a period which completes the third fifty years
of the Tea trade--the average annual consumption amounted to about
_twenty-nine million pounds_.

Since 1827, the intervening half century has witnessed several fiscal
changes in the Tea trade. The first and most important occurred in
1834, when the Excise duty became removed, differential Customs’ duties
were imposed, and the long-existing monopoly of the East India Company
was abolished. In 1835, practically the first year of free trade, the
imports exceeded by 30 per cent. any previous period. The following
year, at the request of the Tea dealers and brokers, the differential
duties were repealed, and a fixed impost of two shillings in the pound
imposed, the result being an increase of importation to the extent of
fifty million pounds. In 1840, a rate of 5 per cent. was charged, thus
raising the duty to 2s. 2¼d. per pound.

[Illustration: DRYING.--A basket frame, wide at both ends and
contracted towards the centre, containing the tea, is placed over hot
embers of charcoal.]

Although the war with China, coupled with the simultaneous distress in
the manufacturing districts, caused a temporary check to importation,
still the conclusion of peace and the repeal of the Corn Laws had their
due effect in an opposite direction. Hence, in 1849, the quantity
imported reached very nearly fifty-three and a half million pounds,
while in the year of the first Great Exhibition, the importation had
augmented to about seventy-one and a half million pounds. In 1853, an
Act was passed reducing the duty immediately to 1s. 10d., and gradually
to 1s. Owing, however, to the outbreak of the Crimean war, this measure
was not carried out. From April, 1855, until April, 1857, the duty
remained at 1s. 9d., being at this latter date reduced to 1s. 6d. Five
years later a reduction of 6d. took place, and again in June, 1865, a
further reduction. Since then no fiscal change has been effected. The
effects of these fluctuations have been sufficiently marked, probably
demonstrating that no further reduction, short of absolute abolition,
would prove much of a boon to consumers.

In 1861, the imports increased to ninety-six and a half million pounds;
the following year to close upon one hundred and fifteen millions, in
1863 to nearly one hundred and thirty-seven millions, in 1866 to one
hundred and forty millions, and in 1877, to the enormous figure of
nearly one hundred and eighty-eight million pounds (187,721,050 lbs.
actually). Thus in two centuries, since the time of Thomas Garway’s
handbill offering a few pounds of Tea to a select public, the trade
has grown with prodigious strides into a highly flourishing branch
of commerce representing value to the extent of some twelve millions
sterling, and an addition to the imperial revenue at even the existing
duty, of over four and a half millions, irrespective of the value of
the thirty-two million pounds re-exported from our shores.





Previous to 1834, the Honourable East India Company, possessing the
monopoly of the Tea trade, were responsible, under very stringent
regulations, for the quality of the leaf imported, while heavy
penalties were inflicted on those who coloured or adulterated Tea
in England. Now that the trade has been thrown open, and the duties
so largely reduced, little inducement exists for having recourse to
malpractices in this country, even had there been no Adulteration Act
in force. Yet is there no protection against what is done in China.
Some years since, the City Commissioners made a commendable but
abortive effort to seize “Lie Tea” and Teas artificially coloured
and otherwise adulterated; but inasmuch as duty had duly been paid on
the rubbish, it was found that nothing could be done to arrest the
distribution of such vile stuff.

That the English public prefer unsophisticated Tea, when they can
conveniently obtain it, is conclusively established by Messrs. Horniman
& Co.’s long experience. The Firm has Agents in every town throughout
the kingdom, each of whom is constantly receiving supplies of the
genuine article. Ten years ago, the Firm paid duty on _seven hundred
and seventy four thousand pounds_ of Tea, while last year they sold
upwards of _five million packets_ varying in sizes from two ounces
to three pounds weight. This result is sufficiently conclusive in
negativing the flimsy assertion made and reiterated by interested
persons, namely, that English folk favour artificially coloured Teas,
rejecting those which are not so manipulated.

It must be admitted that inexperienced judges of the pure leaf, upon
their first purchase are surprised at the colour of the leaf. They
pronounce the black Tea to be dark brown, and the green Tea, a dark
olive. The exquisite flavour of the “supreme beverage” at once opens
their eyes to the truth. No doubt it is reassuring to be aware that
a Firm which, by common consent of their customers, consistently and
persistently act up to their business formula, “Always good alike,”
find meet reward in a yearly augmentation of their business; a fact
attested by the published tables of the quantities of Tea on which they
pay duty periodically. But in addition to obtaining _quality_, the
public have the extra advantage of _cheapness_, as the Pure Tea offered
by Messrs. Horniman & Co.’s Agents is sold at the same fixed prices in
every Town and Village throughout the Kingdom. If, as the proverb has
it, “Good wine needs no bush,” so, on the other hand, good Tea, like
beauty, needs no adornment. Its best adornment is perfect purity.





Since the introduction of Tea into England, but more especially
since the British public has patronised it, a marked improvement
characterises the tone and manners of Society. It is not, possibly, too
great an assumption to assert that there must exist something about
Tea specially suitable to the English constitution and climate; for
not even in Scotland or Ireland, nor in any European country, is the
beverage consumed to a like extent. Certain travellers aver that a
large consumption of the leaf obtains in Russia; but it is chiefly the
upper classes who are addicted to its use. The moujiks, peasants,
and artisans scarcely know the taste of it, for now, as in the time of
Peter the Great, they regard _vodká_ as their only national drink.

[Illustration: FIRING AND COLOURING.--When the teas are half roasted,
powdered Prussian blue, plumbago, gypsum, and turmeric are added,
except to that tea ordered pure and free from all mineral facing

That all classes of the community in this country have derived much
benefit from the persistent use of Tea, is placed beyond dispute. It
has proved, and still proves, a highly prized boon to millions. The
artist at his easel, the author at his desk, the statesman fresh from
an exhaustive oration, the actor from the stage after fulfilling an
arduous _rôle_, the orator from the platform, the preacher from the
pulpit, the toiling mechanic, the wearied labourer, the poor governess,
the tired laundress, the humble cottage housewife, the votary of
pleasure even, on escaping from the scene of revelry, nay, the Queen on
her throne, have, one and all, to acknowledge and express gratitude for
the grateful and invigorating infusion.

Shortly after it had became fashionable to partake of Tea, persons of
quality in England were wont to invite their friends to a “dish” of the
newly-imported beverage. Lord Macaulay mentions how “Tea, which at the
time Monk brought the Army of Scotland to London (A. D. 1660), had
been handed round to be stared at and just touched with the lips as a
great rarity of China, was, eighty years later, a regular article of
import, and was soon consumed in such quantities that financiers began
to consider it as an important source of revenue.” Seven years later
Pepys has this entry in his famous Diary: “Home, and there find my wife
making of Tea, a drink which Mr. Pelling, the apothicary, tells her is
good for her cold.” That Queen Anne ranked among the votaries of the
leaf is manifest from Pope’s couplet:--

    “Thou, great Anna, whom three realms obey,
    Dost sometimes counsel take, and sometimes Tay.”

From this time forth writers of renown make constant allusions to
the new drink. Essayists in the _Spectator_, the _Tatler_, and other
literary organs, are ever dropping remarks respecting the tea-table.
Pope, in his “Rape of the Lock,” when Belinda is declaring what
terrible things she would rather have had happen, than have lost her
favourite curl, makes her cap everything by the wish that she could be
transported to--

                    “Some isle
    Where the gilt chariot never marks the way,
    Where none learn ombre, none e’er drink Bohea,”--

than which privation she can imagine nothing worse.

Then what a source of social pleasure the “afternoon Tea” becomes!
Brady, in his well known metrical version of the “Psalms,” thus
illustrates the advantages accruing therefrom:--

    “When in discourse of Nature’s mystic powers
    And noblest themes, we pass the well spent hours,
    Whilst all around the Virtues--sacred band--
    And listening Graces, pleased attendants stand.
    Thus our Tea conversations we employ,
    Where with delight, instruction we enjoy,
    Quaffing without the waste of time or wealth,
    The sovereign drink of pleasure and of health.”

The poet Cowper’s praise of the beverage has been sadly hackneyed;
nevertheless, as the Laureate of the tea-table, his lines are worthy
of further reproduction. Who cannot recall how Mrs. Gilpin scornfully
characterises her neighbours’ children as being markedly inferior to
her own,

    “As hay is to Bohea;”

as though the force of comparison could no further go. Yet it is in
his more serious and didactic poem that the melancholy friend of the
hares exclaims:--

    “Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast;
    Let fall the curtain, wheel the sofa round;
    And while the bubbling and loud hissing urn
    Throws up a steaming column, and the cups
    That cheer, but not inebriate, wait on each,
    So let us welcome peaceful evening in.”

But Tea had its avowed enemies no less than its staunch friends.
Certain old fashioned physicians did not like it. Nay, they even
sneered at and denounced it. Jonas Hanway, the philanthropic but
eccentric founder of the Marine and the Magdalen Societies, more bold
than his compeers, actually rushed into print in order to inveigh
against it. But he had reason to regret his hot-headed impetuosity.
In answer to his petty attack, the beverage found a noble defender
in no less a personage than Dr. Johnson, whose defence, in point of
style, is among the best essays the great moralist ever penned. Hanway,
however, nothing daunted, resumed the attack. Having lost his temper,
he gave full scope to his prejudices, and denounced Tea as the worst
of poisons and the secondary cause of all the moral, religious, and
political evils that distracted mankind. Not only so, but he was rash
enough to attack the leviathan of literature personally. Yet he had
far better have saved his ink, for Johnson--the first time in his life
that he had retorted on an adversary--fell upon him like an avalanche.
Hanway having foolishly laid himself open to ridicule, most assuredly
the Doctor did not spare him. Such a contest, of course, could not
be regarded as equal. No possible comparison existed between the
combatants. Therefore, setting aside all the hard knocks which Johnson
administered to poor Jonas, it will be sufficient to produce one
passage in which the eminent writer declares himself “a hardened sinner
in the use of the infusion of this plant, whose tea-pot had no time
to cool, who with Tea solaced the midnight, and with Tea welcomed the
morning.” There is not the slightest exaggeration in this confession.
What is affirmed therein is attested both by Boswell and Mrs. Thrale
in their respective writings, who record that Dr. Johnson frequently
exceeded a dozen large cups at one meal.

It is alleged that the first command given by our gracious Queen upon
her accession to the Throne was “Bring me a cup of Tea and _The
Times_.” It is to be hoped that Her Majesty got the former uncoloured.

For a time it appeared that so far as one class of the community was
concerned, the use of Tea was likely to be checked by the imperious
sway of inconstant Fashion. It became the custom in the houses of
the aristocracy to supply only coffee after dinner, so that, for a
period, Tea was ostracised. Recently however, a reaction has set
in, for we find that the most agreeable meetings in “Society” are
those which assemble at “the five o’clock Tea.” Accordingly one of
the whirligigs of time has so conspired, that while the fashionable
breakfast and dinner hours are completely revolutionised, the hour for
Tea has reverted to the precise period of the day at which it used to
be taken one hundred years ago. Although noble ladies have not now
black pages to hand round the tea-cups, yet the very china used by
their great grandmothers is called into requisition simply because
of its antiquity. One circumstance calls for special notice. It is
this, that in the words of Dr. Johnston[B] “Everywhere unintoxicating
and non-narcotic beverages are in general use among tribes of every
colour, beneath every sun, and in every condition of life. The custom,
therefore, must meet some universal want of our common nature.”

    [B] Chemistry of Common Life.

Philanthropists and sociologists are now fully alive to the moral
effects produced by such non-intoxicant drinks as Tea and Coffee.
Intemperance is the bane of the nation. And now that legislation has
utterly failed to restrain the evils arising therefrom, philanthropy,
full of faith in the experiment, endeavours by the establishment, in
divers quarters, of quite a different class of “Public Houses,” to
arrest an evil which is assuming the gravest character. And there can
be no doubt that if the masses could be induced to substitute the pure
beverages Tea and Coffee for the deleterious fluids they are wont to
imbibe, the country would be vastly benefited by the salutary change.





Now that the benefits derived from the use of Tea can be fairly
estimated, it may be said, in the language of an eminent statesman:
“What was first regarded as a luxury, has now become, if not an
absolute necessity, at least one of our accustomed daily wants, the
loss of which would cause more suffering and excite more regret than
would the deprivation of many things which once were counted as
necessaries of life.” Consumed by all classes, serving not simply as
an article of diet, but as a refreshing and invigorating beverage, Tea
cannot be too highly estimated. The wisdom of successive financiers,
and the enterprise of generations of merchants, have combined to
deliver Tea in this country at a price which brings it within the reach
of every individual, making it, perhaps, the only real luxury which is
common to rich and poor alike.

In noticing Dr. Johnston’s work, entitled “The Chemistry of Common
Life,” the _Edinburgh Review_ thus emphatically attests the great boon
which Tea confers upon the people. It remarks: “By her fireside, in
her humble cottage, the lonely widow sits; the kettle simmers over
the ruddy embers, and the blackened tea-pot on the hot brick prepares
her evening drink. Her crust of bread is scanty, yet as she sips the
warm beverage--little sweetened, it may be, with the produce of the
sugar-cane--genial thoughts awaken in her mind; her cottage grows less
dark and lonely, and comfort seems to enliven the ill-furnished cabin.
When our suffering and wounded soldiers were brought down frozen and
bleeding from the trenches before Sebastopol to the port of Balaklava,
the most welcome relief to their sufferings was a pint of hot Tea,
which was happily provided for them. Whence this great solace to the
weary and worn? Why out of scanty earnings does the ill-fed and lone
one cheerfully pay for the seemingly unnourishing weekly allowance of
Tea? From what ever-open fountain does the daily comfort flow which the
tea-cup gently brings to the care-worn and the weak?”

[Illustration: PICKING TEA.--Great care is bestowed on the finest
chops of tea to sort out all defective leaves; this work requires
considerable practice and application.]

Anon, referring to the chemical action of two important agents present
in Tea--theine and volatile oil--the same excellent authority gives
the following account of their operations on the human organism: “The
theine is a substance possessing tonic or strengthening qualities, but
distinguished particularly by the property of retarding the natural
waste of the animal body. Most people are now aware that the chief
necessity for food arises from the gradual and constant wearing away of
the tissues and solid parts of the body. To repair and restore the worn
and wasted parts, food must be constantly eaten and digested. And the
faster the waste, the larger the quantity of food which must daily be
consumed, to make up for the loss which this waste occasions. Now, the
introduction of a certain quantity of theine into the stomach lessens
the amount of waste which in similar circumstances would otherwise
naturally take place. It makes the ordinary food consumed along with
it, go farther, therefore, or, more correctly, lessens the quantity
of food necessary to be eaten in a given time. A similar effect, in a
somewhat less degree, is produced by the volatile oil, and, therefore,
the infusion of Tea, in which both these ingredients of the leaf
are contained, affects the rapidity of the natural waste in the Tea
drinker, in a very marked manner.

“As age creeps on, the powers of digestion diminish with the failing
of the general vigour, till the stomach is no longer able to digest
and appropriate new food as fast as the body wears away. When such
is the case, to lessen the waste is to aid the digestive powers in
maintaining the strength and bulk of the weakening frame. ‘It is no
longer wonderful, therefore,’ says our author, ‘that Tea should be the
favourite on the one hand, with the poor whose supplies of substantial
food are scanty; and, on the other, with the aged and infirm,
especially of the feebler sex, whose powers of digestion, and whose
bodily substance have together begun to fail.’ Nor is it surprising
that the aged female whose earnings are barely sufficient to buy what
are called the common necessaries of life, should yet spare a portion
of her small gains in procuring this grateful indulgence. She can
sustain her strength with less common food when she takes her Tea along
with it: while she, at the same time, feels lighter in spirits, more
cheerful, and fitter for this dull work of life, because of this little

    [C] _Edinburgh Review_, Vol. CI., No. 206, April, 1855.

Such an indispensable article as Tea has now become, ought to be trebly
guarded against all adulteration. While the Government is unable to
protect the public against the machinations of unscrupulous Chinese
merchants, let the public at least endeavour to protect itself. And
this it can readily accomplish. Let it but bestow its custom on a
trader upon whose integrity and technical knowledge it can implicitly
rely. Let it insist upon having both its black and green Teas of the
natural hue, without the addition of “face,” “glaze,” or artificial
colour, which but detract from its character and value. How such a
discreet selection can be effected has already been pointed out. Houses
of repute--such, for example, as that of Messrs. Horniman and Co.--do
not conceal their names behind a retailer, but boldly give their
own, coupled with a guarantee to every purchaser, however modest his
purchase. Hence, consumers may feel assured that in buying indirectly
from them, the commodity they obtain will not only be free from
adulteration and artificial colour, but will be so carefully selected
from the choicest growths, commensurate with the price demanded, as to
be “always good alike.”





Dr. Lettsom, in a work published over a century since, avers that the
infusion of Tea possesses two peculiarities; the first, a sedative
quality, and the next, considerable stringency, by which the relaxing
power is corrected so that the solids become strengthened and braced.
Indeed, this writer goes so far as to pronounce Tea far preferable to
any other known vegetable infusion, if not drank too hot or in too
copious quantities, asserting that “if we take into consideration its
known enlivening energy, our attachment to it will appear to be owing
to its superiority in taste and effects to most other vegetables.”

Dr. Edward Smith speaks of “the cup that cheers but not inebriates” as
being a potent agent, and as increasing the quantity of carbonic acid
emitted by the lungs and the quantity of air inspired, while at the
same time it gives greater depth and freedom to the respiration. “It is
chiefly in its power,” he remarks, “to increase the respiratory process
that it acts so favourably, and in so doing the transformation of
starchy and fatty food is promoted.” Then he shows its vast advantages
to the poor, by remarking: “In the dietaries of the poor, where the
meal must consist chiefly of bread, a substance not particularly
savoury, nor digested with great rapidity, the warm tea enables the
recipient more readily to masticate and swallow the dry bread, or the
bread with very little fat upon it, and so by its action to assist

The eminent Dr. Parkes avers that Tea possesses a decidedly stimulative
and restorative action on the nervous system, while, at the same time,
it obviates succeeding depression. This writer regards Tea as a most
useful article in cases of fever, when administered in the form of a
cold, weak solution, and as being of great service to gouty subjects,
and to those of a rheumatic tendency (especially such as labour under
lithic acid diathesis) when drunk without sugar and with little milk.
Tea has been known to save life in cases of poisoning by tartar-emetic,
the tannin being the active agent. Dr. Lewis’s testimony also goes to
support the medicinal importance of Tea. He mentions how it strengthens
the stomach and intestines, is good against indigestion, nausea,
and diarrhœa, refreshes the spirit in heaviness and sleepiness, and
counteracts the operation of inebriating liquors.

Some men of mark in their day were notorious for their Tea-drinking
predilections. Dr. Johnson himself may be fairly set down as a
Tea-gourmet. Then returning to more modern times, see how the genial
Leigh Hunt bursts forth into rapture when describing the virtues of the
beneficent plant, free from the cunning transformation practised upon
it by unprincipled traders. Surely this gifted writer must have had
a cup of Messrs. Horniman and Co.’s spécialité served to him when he
could elaborate upon it thus: “It was not green tea; it was not black
tea; neither too young, nor too old; not unpleasing with astringency
on the one hand, nor with the insipid, half-earthy taste of decayed
vegetable matter on the other; it was tea in its most perfect state,
full charged with aroma, which, when it was opened, diffused its
fragrance through the whole apartment, putting all other perfumes to
shame.... Oh heavens! to sip that most exquisite cup of delight, was
bliss almost too great for earth; a thousand years of rapture all
concentrated into the space of a minute, as if the joy of all the
world had been skimmed for my peculiar drinking, I should rather say
imbibing, for to have swallowed that liquid like an ordinary beverage,
without tasting every drop, would have been sacrilege.”

Professor James F. W. Johnston likewise bears testimony to the value
of this tropical beverage. He remarks: “In the life of most persons
a period arrives when the stomach no longer digests enough of the
ordinary elements of food to make up for the natural daily waste of the
bodily substance. The size and weight of the body, therefore, begin
to diminish more or less perceptibly. At this period tea comes in as
a medicine to arrest the waste, to keep the body from falling away so
fast, and thus to enable the less energetic powers of digestion still
to supply as much as is needed to repair the wear and tear of the
solid tissues.”

Of course the chemical value of Tea as a beverage depends upon the
presence of volatile oil, theine, tannin, and gluten--the four
substances forming its most important ingredients--and the proportions
in which these exist. If Tea be not genuine, or if it undergoes the
artificial process of colouring, its character and efficacy become
proportionately impaired. It is unfortunately too true that the
market is glutted with Tea--which is either not Tea at all, or else
is excessively adulterated. On the testimony of the House of Commons,
“millions of pounds of sloe, liquorice, and ash-tree leaves, are every
year mixed with Chinese Teas for England.” It is well known that the
leaves of the Charrapal, a Californian bush, are largely exported to
China, when they return packed under the title of Tea. A startling
exposure was made a few years since, of the tea-rubbish styled “Finest
New Season Kaisow,” and “Fine Oanfa Congou,” sold in bond at 1¼d. to
1¾d. per lb. Upon analysis, the former was found to contain an enormous
amount of mineral matter, chiefly iron filings; while the latter
proved a mixture of redried tea-leaves, straw, fragments of matting,
rice-husks, willow leaves, and the excrement of silkworms. The “Maloo
Mixture,” likewise, once gained an unenviable notoriety, as did the
“Extra Fine Moyune Gunpowder” put up for sale by auction in Mincing
Lane, and in which Dr. Letheby discovered over 40 per cent. of iron
filings and 19 per cent. of silica.

Tea is adulterated in two ways. The foreign dealers first practise
their arts upon it by having recourse to dried leaves, and by
“facing”--a process which necessitates the use of Prussian blue,
silica, gypsum, plumbago, lamp-black, ferruginous earth, and other
abominations. Mr. Fortune, in his interesting work, reveals the whole
secret. Upon reading his graphic account of how Tea is elaborated for
the European market, one almost turns aghast! And with good reason,
as there might be ample cause to suspect “death in the pot.” Indeed,
the people of China are themselves disgusted at the tricks of traders,
who carry on their fraudulent practices without concealment. A Chinese
journal thus gives expression to the public sentiment: “The wonder is
that such stuff (referring to redried and recoloured leaves) should
be suffered to be manufactured, much less to be shipped as a lawful
export, for Chinese law expressly prohibits the re-manipulation of Tea
that has once been used, on the obvious and common-sense principle that
such a trade is necessarily, in its very essence, fraudulent. Yet, in
the face of this well-known maxim, it is one of the thousand proofs
which we have of the utter rottenness of the present administration,
that all round the settlement, in every convenient open space, large
quantities of what is termed, with ominous propriety, the ‘mixture,’
lie exposed to the sun at noon-day; in some cases within a hundred
yards of the mixed court yamen. And not only so, but there are
establishments, well known to the police, where the mixture is fired,
leaded, packed, sold, and dispatched for shipment; and experience has
shown that it is useless to expect conviction, under Chinese law, from
a Chinese magistrate.”

The same journal, referring to a peculiar kind of willow which grows
abundantly in the country, the leaves of which are utilised by Tea
manufacturers, observes: “One needs not the expensive craft of the
cha-sze to know how neatly a little skilful manipulation, and a little
heat applied _secundum artem_, can transform these willow leaves into
genuine and delicate tea leaves. Whether the mercantile result be
intended to astonish the palates of old ladies in London or Glasgow, or
to pass as genuine Souchong with skippers, who have little knowledge of
Tea, we know not; but the fact remains, that the trade thrives well and

“Nevertheless, there is still good and pure Tea produced in China, and
merchants in London who import it in an unadulterated condition, albeit
a very large per centage of the 188,000,000 lbs. annually consumed
in Great Britain is spurious. One mercantile Firm in particular have
gained a wide and well-deserved reputation for the purity and excellent
character of their importations. I refer with pleasure to Messrs.
Horniman and Co., London, who for nearly forty years have assiduously
laboured to supply the public with both green and black Tea, free from
all mineral facing powder. As what passes through the Wormwood-street
Warehouses to their Agents all over the country is subjected to no
deteriorating and deleterious manipulation in China, its perfect purity
can implicitly be relied upon. The Chinese letter which accompanied
the first shipment, by Messrs. Horniman, of Tea into England, is quite
original and unique.”

The translation reads thus:--

“The Flourishing Farm.--This is truly the very best Tea, prepared with
additional labour and free from colouring matter. The educated (or
experienced) merchant, who is competent to consider it, will please to
take notice of its clear and genuine quality. We are honoured by your
good orders, and shall proceed at once to the packing.”

The testimony afforded by several eminent analytical authorities in
favour of Messrs. Horniman’s importations is so satisfactory that
nothing further can well be desired. The earliest of those documents
is from Dr. Andrew Ure, F.R.S., Professor of Chemistry, who declares
that upon chemical and microscopic examination of the samples taken
from the bonded warehouses, he “found them (both black and green) to
be perfectly free from all extraneous colouring matter, and in every
respect genuine Tea.”

Professor Ure further observes:--“The characteristic appearance of
your green Tea, namely the dull olive hue, is unmistakably different
to the bright blue tint of the ordinary green Teas of commerce,
which is artificially imparted. This particular feature offers a
perfect safeguard for the purity of the Tea, in contrast with such
sophisticated Teas as I have sometimes been called upon to examine
professionally for the Honourable Board of Excise, and which were
coated with various powders that rendered them more or less unwholesome
for use as an alimentary beverage.”

Dr. Arthur Hill Hassall, Analyst of the County Sanitary Commission,
and a well known writer and authority on dietetics, after minutely
describing the tests to which he subjected the Tea submitted to him
for analysis, concludes in the following words:--“These investigations
enable me confidently to assume that the consumers of Tea, now having
fairly the choice of both the sophisticated and the pure, will not be
slow in choosing between the wholesome natural kinds and those which
are ‘got up’ for appearance, and in order to realise higher prices
through their defects being hidden or glazed over, with the powdered
colours employed.” The latest report is from the same authority, and
bears a recent date. The opinion at first pronounced is therein but
more strongly confirmed. The Tea is characterised as being “perfectly
pure, of superior quality, and free from facing.” Moreover, the
packages which the analyst purchased from some of Messrs. Horniman’s
Agents, he affirms, after careful examination, “to correspond as
regards purity and excellence of quality with those Teas obtained from
the Docks and from Messrs. Horniman’s Wholesale Warehouses, in London.”

Nor do authors and publicists of weight refrain from offering willing
testimony in favour of Messrs. Horniman’s special importation. Dr.
Scoffern remarks how “Its delicious flavour fully confirms its entire
freedom from the usual powdered colour;” that he is “very partial to
Tea;” and that, in consequence of having long taken the pure beverage,
his palate had become “the more critical.”

The only certain way to obtain truly cheap and choice Tea is to
purchase the leaf without the usual mineral “facing” powder. That
the public highly appreciate real economy is evident from the large
and increasing trade carried on for the past forty years by Messrs.
Horniman & Co., the original importers of the pure Tea. Further, the
Agents of the Firm throughout the Kingdom, through Messrs. Horniman’s
direct operations, offer great advantages to the public, as they sell
in the most distant neighbourhoods the same reliable article, at the
same fixed price, as their most extensive City or West-end Agents.
In another article on Tea Consumption, appears the following: “Since
the recent Parliamentary Report on Tea appeared, there has been a
more general disinclination to use any that has been covered by the
Chinese with mineral colour, for this report exposed the fact that
it is done to hide the brownness of wintry growths, and enable them,
when so disguised, to be sold mixed off with the best at high rates.
From a lengthened experience I can bear testimony to the excellent and
delicious character of Horniman’s _pure Tea_; while I am convinced that
all who appreciate a strong, rich, full-flavoured beverage, possessing
in addition a delicious flavour and aroma, must arrive at the like





What should mainly commend itself to our attention at the tea-table, is
the quality of the infusion. This is the crucial test. If the leaf be
genuine, the proof is ready at hand. If otherwise, the proof is equally
apparent, no matter how skilfully the leaf may be prepared to deceive
the eye. The pleasure of our morning and evening meal is much enhanced
when the infusion is fragrant, lustrous, pleasant to the palate, and
soothing to the nerves. Such covetable results, however, cannot be
realised by those who, influenced by a false and flagrant economy, are
led to purchase so-called “cheap Teas,”--noxious mixtures that in all
probability have already done duty in Chinese tea-pots.

A lady of our acquaintance, while in the act of pouring out the
grateful beverage, recently remarked, half-apologetically: “What a
very poor colour this Tea has! Either it must be uncoloured, or else
the Chinese have not put sufficient colouring matter on the leaf!” To
the inexperienced this remark naturally suggests the observation--“Do
the Chinese really add ‘colouring’ for the purpose of giving a deep
colour to the Tea in the cup?” Be reassured then, gentle reader, and
understand that the terms “coloured” and “uncoloured” are used to
distinguish betwixt that Tea which is painted or faced with mineral
powder, principally Prussian blue and plumbago, and that which is
_pure_, and free from any such prejudicial embellishments. A deep rich
semi-transparent infusion is always obtained from good and pure Tea.

But for this popular error respecting the colour of Tea, I should
scarcely have trenched on the precincts of the Tea-table--that
forbidden ground, where the housewife is universally regarded as the
very model of perfection, and where her power, for the time being, is
admittedly supreme.

The Chinese, whatever may be the character of the nefarious arts to
which they resort to make the best of a bad commodity, can and do
send us supplies of good Tea. But then a fair price must needs be
paid for it. Such consumers of the beverage as are willing to procure
genuine Tea, and not lay out their money upon redried, rerolled, and
“doctored” Tea-leaves, would do well to exercise judgment by selecting
only those descriptions of Tea that have been carefully plucked in
the early spring, when the leaf is small and imbued with the richness
of the shrub-juices. Let but such a commodity be supplied perfectly
uncoloured, and the perfection of human art is attained. When the
foolish fashion of the age required Tea pretty to look at, then the
Chinese, in deference to the public desire, and for the increased
profits of those concerned, coloured or “faced” the leaf.

In conclusion, I may honestly aver that it is owing to the efforts
of Messrs. Horniman that this reprehensible practice is fast falling
into disfavour with the public. The enormous sale of the Firm’s pure
Tea by some 4,000 Chemists, at once testifies to the high approval it
has realised for its combinedly strong, delicious, and invigorating

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in the original book; otherwise they
were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; two unbalanced quotation
marks were found and remedied.

Illustrations without captions are decorative head- and tail-pieces.

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