Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Tea is a brilliant beverage. Both relaxing and invigorating, it has stimulated the minds, bodies, and souls of countless throngs through the ages. Hectic workdays are soothed with simple fannings heaped into bags. Colds are nursed into complacency with richly spiced teas laden with lemon and honey. Friends gather around a table set with large portions of small sandwiches, scones, and ever-changing varieties of tea.

Across the globe, tea keeps one's upper lip stiff, one's soul at ease, one's heart steady. In Tibet, black tea and yak butter make a hearty, thick soup, essential to life on the steppes. In Ireland, tea is brewed so strong a rat "couldn't sink his foot in it". Japanese teas are sipped in ceremony designed to both uplift and humble. Britain's teas are brewed in all manner of odd crockery, and offered as a comfort to any and all who need an embrace inside and out.

All tea comes from one simple plant, camellia sinensis. Flavorings such as fruit pieces, essential oils, and artificial flavors might be added, but true tea grows on a humble bush, nestled in misty hillsides, on huge plantations or small farms, in humble villages or bustling centers of trade. Wherever man goes, so does tea. It is a beautiful thing.

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