Tea, glorious tea

Freshly plucked tea leavesI’ve just written about my own addiction to this glorious drink over at my regular blog and just thought that I’d give you a quick run-down of perhaps lesser-known facts about tea because…well just because you can never know too much about something you love.

Did you know that tea, in its dry form contains more caffeine than coffee?  However, just to confuse you, a prepared cup of coffee contains higher levels than prepared tea.

Unlike coffee, tea also contains valuable anti-oxidants that are associated with preventing cancer and heart disease.

Tea is made from the leaves of a camellia plant, in this case Camellia Sinensis.  

Since tea was first introduced into Britain (during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, 1533-1603) it has been credited with healing powers.  This is reflected in a few current English brand names – P.G. (which is said to stand for ‘pre-gestive’) and Typhoo (which is Chinese for ‘doctor’).

A New York merchant named Thomas Sullivan is credited with having invented the first tea bag in 1904 when he sent out samples enclosed in silk.

A nice cuppaAs a nation the British drink 175 million cups of tea daily and this consumption makes it our number one beverage.

The habit of drinking black tea with lemon was a Russian habit introduced by the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria, the Princess Royal, who was married to the Emperor of Prussia.  However the habit never caught on amongst the general British population as the overwhelming amount of tea is drunk nowadays with milk. 

‘Char’, as in the English expression ‘a nice cup of char’ (i.e. tea) is derived from the Chinese word for tea – tcha.

Finally – making tea.  There has been an on-going debate about whether to add the milk to the tea first or second.  Those who brew their tea and then add the milk insist they are right.  I say they’re wrong and now I’m being backed up by scientific evidence (there’s nothing like being smarmy is there)?!  Adding the milk after the tea has brewed precipitates the release of tanins, which tend to make the tea taste more bitter, not to mention causing worse staining of your teeth and the tea cups.  Also, the proteins in milk more easily split and divide if added to the hot tea, leading to clumping.  …And no one wants clumpy tea now do they?.

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7 Comments

Filed under Cookery, General house tips, General tips

7 responses to “Tea, glorious tea

  1. Pingback: National addiction « AngelCel’s Page

  2. What an interesting post. I love tea, I drink loads of it. Im particular about the cup I use and nobody, not even Mr Kitten is allowed to use my cup. If Im being delicate and make a pot of tea, I add the milk first, but nowadays alot of people just put a bag in a mug and jiggle the teabag about so if I do it this way then I add the milk second. There is nothing nicer than having a ‘proper’ good old fashioned afternoon tea with china cups and a teapot. I have a very sweet tooth but I cant stand tea with sugar, I could be sick if Mr K who takes one sugar accidently puts it in my cup when he makes the tea (which isnt often) I mean him making the tea isnt often LOL! X

  3. angelcel

    I agree with you about sugar. When I was little my parents introduced me to the amber nectar by giving me a sweetened version. Now I can’t stand sugar in it because it completely swamps the taste of the tea.

    I can tell you another little ‘factoid’ which I wasn’t able to verify today so didn’t include it above. The Chinese are apparently now importing our teas like PG Tips because they’re getting a taste for our English blends. …Talk about ‘coals to Newcastle’ eh?!

  4. I love my pots of tea. Fresh chamomile (not those rotten-sock-tasting tea bags) is my favourite, but I also like a rich black tea. And I drink it black, no sugar!

  5. angelcel

    Hi Lexy, I like chamomile occasionally when I need to relax but my addiction definitely centres around what I call *tea* tea – a good British army brew. Mmm…I haven’t had mine yet this morning, so guess where I’m off to now!

  6. Well I am lost. If you add milk first then hot tea aren’t you still getting the same effect of milk and heat? (obviously I don’t use milk in tea)

  7. angelcel

    Hi Bonnie, I have it on good authority (Dr Andrew Stapley, a Chemical Engineer at Loughborough University) that it is better to have the cold milk at the bottom of the cup, awaiting the stream of hot tea. Dribbling cold milk into hot tea makes the denaturation of milk proteins more likely. …I’m only repeating what I’ve read!
    I have to tell you that my husband makes tea the opposite way to me, i.e. by brewing and then adding the milk and he quite often ends up with tea with milk globules in. Dr Stapley obviously knows his stuff!

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