Lupicia Fresh Tea Magazine - December,2008

"The Origin of Black Tea" cover December 2008click to enlarge

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The Origin of Black Tea

black tea
Black tea was born in China

Tongmu Village
At Tongmu Village

Tea plantations at Wuyi Mountains
The scenery of huge rocky mountains and tea plantations in the Wuyi Mountains.

Tea processing at Wuyi Mountains temple
The scenery of huge rocky mountains and tea plantations in the Wuyi Mountains.

It was once believed that black tea was born from green tea that had been shipped to the west from China during the 17th century.  The green tea naturally oxidized and darkened during the long voyage. However, this lore is not based on fact. The flavor of black tea is the end result of the tea leaves being subjected to special processing.

Recent developments of research on tea in China have revealed the origins of black tea. The story begins when a small tea-making village in the mountains became embroiled in civil war.

Black tea was discovered by chance

It all began in a small mountain village called Tongmu in Fujian, China, located in the Wuyi Mountains, one of China's most famous tea production centers. It was the middle of the 17th century, around the time that the once-prosperous Ming Dynasty was in decline and the Emperor of the Qing Dynasty from the North was about to assume the rule of China. The village of Tongmu was invaded by the Qing military, who trekked deep into the mountains to eliminate remnants of resistance who were loyal to the Ming Dynasty.It was the midst of tea-plucking season, and the tea farmers in the village had spread out the tea leaves in the barns to process green tea. When they were invaded, the farmers ran off, leaving the tea leaves in the barns untouched. At night, the Qing soldiers slept on the tea leaves.

After the soldiers left the village, the farmers found that the tea leaves had become brown and withered. The local farmers in Tongmu, however, could not afford to abandon the darkened tea leaves and decided to process them.  The farmers tasted this tea and discovered that it was a unique tea with an unexpectedly fruity  flavor. The tea became the origin of the world's first black tea, called Lapsang Souchong.

A recent study has found that this story was handed down through the generations by the Jiang, an old farming family in Tongmu, who has cultivated and produced tea for 22 generations stretching over 500 years. Currently, Lapsang Souchong is subjected to a thick smoking process over pine branches. This tea is referred to as "the Western fragrance" by local people.  The early Lapsang Souchong, on the other hand, was referred to as "the Oriental fragrance" by the locals because its scent, created through the oxidization of tea leaves, was very similar to that of a longan, an oriental fruit, and because of its mild flavor.

The origin of Earl Grey

Earl Grey portrait
Charles Grey (a.k.a. 2nd Earl Grey 1764 - 1845)

Lapsang Souchong was welcomed enthusiastically in Europe, particularly in England.  The 2nd Earl Grey, the British Prime Minister in the 1830s, was particularly enthusiastic about Lapsang Souchong. It is recorded that Earl Grey was fascinated by the tea brought home from a mission to China and asked a tea trader in London to import the same tea. At that time, however, England was on the brink of the Opium Wars with China, and English merchants were restricted in which tea they could import from China. Also, the tea coveted by Earl Grey seems to have been the variety with the oriental fragrance, which was very diffcult to procure.

Not knowing what to do, the tea trader invented a new type of black tea by blending the available black tea with the fragrance of bergamot oil.  This is said to be the origin of the most successful  flavored tea in history. After this period, black tea production and processing techniques spread around the world, mainly through the British colonies.

LUPICIA's selection: The Lapsang Souchong & The Earl Grey

LAPSANG SOUCHONG

4704 LAPSANG SOUCHONG

[black tea] A black tea smoked using pine twigs and produced in Xingcun village, at the foot of the Wuyi Mountains. Unique smoky  avor that is very popular in Europe.

50g (1.76oz) pack $6.00

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EARL GREY DARJEELING

5200 EARL GREY DARJEELING

[black tea] Refreshing Earl Grey taste using 100% Darjeeling tea. First try this as straight tea to appreciate the refreshing taste and deep aroma of bergamot.

50g (1.76oz) pack $9.00

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BREAKFAST EARL GREY

5202 BREAKFAST EARL GREY

[black tea] Produced from broken leaves, this Earl Grey brews up a more robust taste. It is perfect for those who like Earl Grey with milk.

50g (1.76oz) pack $5.00

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DECAF EARL GREY

5400 DECAF EARL GREY

[black tea] Excellent blend of jasmine tea and green tea are flavored with fresh orange.

50g (1.76oz) pack $7.50

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50g (1.76oz) tin $9.50

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Earl Grey tea list »

How to make delicious tea

earl grey - how to make tea

For each cup of tea use 1 rounded teaspoon ( 2 . 5 - 3 g = 0 . 10 o z ) of tea leaves to 1 cup (110ml=3.7fl oz) of water. Water temperature should be about boiling. Brewing time is 3-5 minutes for most black teas.

Tea of the Month

This month, LUPICIA introduces Earl Grey. When sipping a cup of Earl Grey, you can enjoy the pleasant, citrus aroma and the delicious  avor of the tea. With the addition of sliced lemon and sweetener, you can also enjoy an invigorating iced Earl Grey. It is an ideal choice for your teatime hot or cold.

EARL GREY

5201 EARL GREY

[black tea] Orthodox Earl Grey tea with Keemun tea as the base. Delicious straight or with milk. It is the kind of tea that you want to keep on hand at all times.

50g (1.76oz) pack $5.00

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50g (1.76oz) tin $7.00

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Camel and Prince Message Board Information

Column: Let's diet with sense (Tea for Your Beauty vol.2)

When you are on a diet, you cannot avoid thinking about your calorie intake. It may be true that it is important to control calories, but if you do not eat enough, you end up putting on weight if your body is suffering from a vitamin deficiency.

What you need is a non-caloric drink. You can easily reduce your calorie intake just by changing your regular beverage to tea. If you count the number of times that you drink, you will eliminate quite a lot of calories. And of course, you should not put sugar in your tea.

When you feel a bit peckish, you just cannot resist sweets. Why not have some flavored tea that smells just like sweets? The sweet, soothing aroma enables you to relax and helps calm your empty stomach.

Why not start a sensible diet

ART GALLERY

The design of this teacup, which depicts two birds, is inspired by the following Chinese legend:

A young woman born into an elite family fell in love with a young man of humble origins. The parents of the young woman tried to separate them because of the disparity in their social classes. The couple decided to elope, but they were intercepted by assailants who killed the young man. Consumed by grief, the young woman committed suicide to be with her lover. However, God took pity on them, and allowed them to be reincarnated as two birds, that huddle together and soar high into the sky.

Nikko has gained an internat ional reputation for its high-quality products. It is an old, established brand that was founded in 1908. Nikko's teaware is highly regarded by professionals, particularly those associated with exclusive restaurants. In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of its foundation, Nikko is releasing this new teaware, designed by the renowned artist, Buzan Fukushima (1944), themed on the forgoing Chinese legend. This teaware is a bone china gem, which showcases how the tradition and technology of straight and genuine manual labor in Japan have crystallized.

NIKKO KUTANI ART COLLECTION CUP & SAUCER

NIKKO KUTANI ART COLLECTION CUP & SAUCER
Buzan Fukushima, Akae Sansui

$120.00

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Diameter: 98mm (3in 7/8) , Height: 61mm (2in 3/8) Capacity: 230ml (7.8fl oz). Bone China (Made in Japan)

LUPICIA Fresh Tea Magazine

LUPICIA Fresh Tea Magazine is published every month by LUPICIA, purveyor of fine teas from around the world. LUPICIA Fresh Tea Magazine provides you with the latest tea information and hopes to introduce different cultures of the world through tea, offering you many pleasant surprises and new discoveries.