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Tea. The social drink of all times or From Ancient Chines Tea Parties to London Pubs.
Posted on Aug 30, 2015
Tea has been the chief drink in China since ancient times as well as being a custom. Tea drinking was an occasion to foster friendships, discuss poetry, education, ideology, ethics, politics, and literature and was taken very seriously.
Numerous tea parties were held in palaces throughout many of the Chinese dynasties and were first described in the Tang dynasty. In the Qing dynasty the Qing emperors used tea parties to handle national affairs, summon ministers and officials, meet common people, receive foreign envoys, read books and give comment and instruction. It was the era of tea connoisseurs, and there was a saying in China that “tea is above wine”! As well as being drunk to moisten their throats during their lectures and conversations, tea was served as a symbol to encourage education and to write poetry.
Tea parties were also used at birthday celebrations, national festivities and congratulatory occasions. Sometimes a band played music. A bit like the way of the pub in more modern day times. Who hasn't met up with friends in the pub to celebrate their birthday, their new job, or the marriage or births of royals, for example? As well as the serious aspects of the Chinese tea parties there was also a lot of fun, gaiety and festivity.
Us Brits, like the Chinese, drink a lot of tea! A recent survey of British tea drinkers found that they consume the equivalent to two bathfuls of tea annually and spend £12,500 on tea over their lifetime. Thats a lot of tea! And whilst a recent report warns that tea sales have fallen by more than 6% over the past five years, it is the sale of ordinary tea bags which have dropped in favour of green and speciality teas. Described as a growing “foodie culture in the UK”, sales of loose leaf teas are growing. And no wonder, as green, white, and oolong loose leaf teas offer fabulous health benefits. People today are looking for healthier options.
This trend for healthier options is gathering momentum, as a traditional boozer, “The Daniel Defoe” pub in Stoke Newington is to be relaunched as “The Stoke Newington Tea House”, when it reopens this autumn. Specialising in loose leaf tea and offering over 100 different loose leaf teas, plus a selection of tea cocktails. The Tea House will also be serving a full range of cask ales too! Whether a pub or a Tea House, one thing is for certain, it will be a place in which to meet friends, to discuss the events of the day, hold informal meetings, read the newspaper, relax after work, and put the world to rights!
Ancient China meets modern day London! A new era of tea parties in the pub perhaps?