Tea Journey

It is perhaps at first difficult to imagine the allure of the tea leaf. In fact tea leaves can appear to the layperson to be close to the definition of uninteresting. Dried brown leaves. And yet, almost consistently for the last four thousand years, this humble plant has been revered for its unique and delicate flavour. For the British in the 1840s, the simple concoction of water and tea leaf was considered delightful enough to be worth fighting major international wars. For medieval Arabs, tea seemed so immensely refreshing that its leaves were considered to possess mystical properties, predictors of the future no less, and to the ancient Chinese, tea was thought to be so calming and medicinal it was derived from the bodies of the holiest monks. Just how tea, the most modest of drinks, has inspired the taste buds of humanity for millennia, is still not quite known. But as Brits drink over one-hundred and sixty million cups of it every day, it seems the drink continues to work its subtle, delicate magic.

Tea has, however, become a lot more than the world’s most popular drink. The consumption of tea has become a social event in its own right. In offices across the nation tea has become a catalyst for conversation, synonymous with a brief respite in the hectic days work. As the familiar click of kettle heralds the beginning of break time in schools and work places the country over, tea (libation to the Gods of chatter), is poured ceremoniously into mugs, flasks and cups, whilst nattering tentatively develops.

Stimulus to the mind and the tongue tea’s enduring appeal seems not to waiver. Although science has advanced immeasurably since mankind first combined tea leaf and water, we have yet to discover another combination of herbs or chemicals which quite provide the same sense of satisfaction as the quiet unassuming pot of tea. In a world where tradition is being replaced with technology and the contemporary is king one has to admire the resilience of this most time honoured beverage. When you or I sip a cup of tea, something remarkable happens. We become part of an immense heritage, joining emperors and prophets, great men and women, who have found their calm, their inspiration, their power, in nearly the exact same gentle blend of dried brown leaf and freshly boiled water, that we hold in our own modest hands.