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Archives for the ‘Tea History’ Category

Travel, Profit and 100 Billion Cups of Tea…A Historical Look at Tea!

bigelow tea cup

As you most likely know, Bigelow Tea has been a family tea blender since 1945 where creating tea flavors continues to be our passionate pursuit. Perhaps that’s why we love exploring the role tea has played in various cultures throughout history. We recently discovered this fascinating map that was published in 1934 by Fortune Magazine and written about on Atlas Obscura, a website that guides readers to wondrous and curious places in the world. The map shows the size of countries based on how much tea was consumed in the area.

bigelow tea map

It displays China as about equal to the British Isles, but in reality the article details that the population of China was at the time, nine times bigger than that of the U.K., and the country’s inhabitants drank nearly twice as much tea as the Brits did!

The map also demonstrates that each person in Britain consumed around 6 cups of tea a day, adding up to 485,000 pounds of tea per year. That breaks down to one hundred billion cups of tea, total – clearly, the British do love their tea!

Also interesting is the discussion of how the British made quite the profit from their tea habit, with earnings from the tea trade leading Britain into colonizing one third of the world! The map text even quotes, “Where Britain goes, tea goes with them.” The article goes on to explain that Britain grows and sells four-fifths of the world’s tea, though part of this large tea industry took place in India, where the British grew and sold Indian tea.

Finally, if you notice the red lines drawn on the map, you’ll see the many routes of where tea traveled during the time period. The information shows the U.S. consumed 95,000 pounds of tea annually.

One last historical nugget: the map was created not long after the 1929 Wall Street crash, as the article points out. This crash caused tea prices to drop, and in 1933 tea companies in India, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) and Indonesia (then the Dutch East Indies) came to an agreement to lower output, leading to a slow price increase that was more profitable for all growers and sellers.

Tell us: do you have interesting tea historical tea facts to share?  Please do and tag with #TeaProudly so we can learn too!

Bigelow Toasts To Afternoon Teatime Traditions

bigelow-tea-teatimeOn a historical tea note, many Bigelow Tea drinkers may think of afternoon teatime as a British tradition (even though the post-lunch, pre-dinner cup and nibble has roots across numerous cultures as noted in Forbes recently). Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is the woman to thank for the traditional English teatime as we know it. In 1840, Anna started partaking in the light meal to help stave off afternoon hunger pangs in between lunch and the typically late dinner hour of the time.

Today, the quintessential afternoon tea is a common tradition in countries that were once British colonies, such as Malaysia. While the English may serve their tea with small bites and savory treats, Malaysians, for example, enjoy delicacies such as yam cake or prawn fritters with their steaming cup which also sounds delicious!

Another fact that tea neophytes may also be interested to learn is that afternoon tea and high tea were not one and the same. While afternoon tea was a ritual for the upper classes, high tea was viewed as a filling meal of heavier foods that was strictly a working class affair.

And finally, did you know that the Japanese have enjoyed tea time even longer than the British? The culture has observed a very strict ceremony surrounding the making, serving, and drinking of tea. This ceremony dates back over a thousand years, and involves specific guidelines that make the serving of tea a beautiful art form, complete with designated wardrobe items, surrounding décor, and foods.

Of course, we always find the practice of drinking tea to be a time honored tradition to share with family and friends. Tell us- do you have any tea drinking rituals, such as a special treat or favorite flavor you can share with us?

Bigelow Tea Uncovers the Mysteries of Chai

bigelow tea vanilla chaiWe love to respond to Bigelow Tea fan questions and this was a good one so we wanted to share it with you as well.  A reader asked. “What is Chai?”  The easiest definition of Chai is spiced milk tea, but let’s look a bit more closely at this historical brew.

Chai originated in the East and dates back to thousands of years ago as a concoction sipped by Eastern royalty, though it did not actually contain tea leaves at the time. The drink grew in popularity when the British set up tea plantations in India in the 1800’s, leading to widespread variations across the country and eventually the rest of the world.  Chai was often used as a healthful tonic for common ailments such as colds or indigestion.

Chai is typically a blend of rich black tea, ginger, cardamom, cloves, peppercorn, nutmeg and cinnamon.  It may also be made with green tea.  Spices and sweeteners may vary based on preference so if you are up for a tea change,  check out our Spiced Chai (also available in Decaf), Vanilla Chai, Green Tea Chai,  Chocolate Chai (Yum!), and Caramel Chai as they will be sure to keep you coming back to the kettle for another cup.

Now, how many of you hesitate to talk about how much you love Chai as an alternative to morning coffee or an irresistible beverage any time of day just because you are not exactly sure how to pronounce it?  Is it “ch I” or “k I?”  The answer is: ch I.  In fact, Chai is actually the word for tea in many languages.

bigelow tea chai tea

So now that you have some history and Chai and you know how to pronounce it, which Bigelow Chai flavor will be your first choice to try?

Bigelow Explores The History of Iced Tea

bigelow tea iced tea history

When you hear the words “iced tea,” it’s easy to envision a pitcher of your favorite Bigelow Tea flavor over ice. Perhaps you add in a sweetener, or maybe you enjoy it nice and simple. Whichever way you drink it, now you can sip with an appreciation for its back story—it is steeped in history, after all!

Richard Blechynden has often been attributed with making the first iced tea at the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904. As sales for his hot tea dropped while summer temperatures rose, he purportedly poured tea over ice to entice fairgoers. Some dedicated research tells another story, though, with iced tea’s roots reaching as far back as 1879, when Marion Cabell Tyree created a recipe for green tea over ice, which was published in a community cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia. Later, in 1884, another recipe for iced black tea surfaced from the Boston Cooking School.bigelow tea iced tea blend These days, while iced tea is still extremely popular during summer, the classic drink is enjoyed year ‘round. In the United States, 85 percent of tea consumed each year is iced as noted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We are an iced tea culture, and we are the only country in the world [noted as such],” said Peter Goggi, president of Tea Association of the USA. Who are the most popular consumers, you may wonder? Well, baby boomers and millennials, of course! 87 percent of millennials drink tea, according to the Tea Association. Goggi said that it’s likely because millennials grew up in the ready-to-drink era that accepted tea as a good alternative to soda and other sugary drinks.

Whatever the reason (or season!), iced tea is always a cool option—and you can make it with any flavor of Bigelow Tea that you would normally enjoy hot. So pick your favorite (@LukeIsASequin suggests “Constant Comment®”), brew and pour over ice for a cold treat any time!

Learn Why Bigelow Uses Tea From Sri Lanka

 

bigelow tea sri lankaHigh in the mountains of Sri Lanka grow acres of gorgeous tea plants renowned for yielding a light, bright brew prized as “the champagne of teas.” Bigelow Tea founder Ruth Campbell Bigelow fell in love with tea from the region and initiated a partnership that has endured for 67 years! Third-generation President and CEO Cindi Bigelow was thrilled to visit this tiny island country in South Asia to meet the folks who expertly hand-pick tea leaves used in Bigelow’s black teas.

For a rare peek inside the tea gardens of Sri Lanka, check out Cindi’s Sri Lanka journal and videos. And here are a few more interesting facts highlighting why Bigelow Tea embraces Sri Lankan tea producers as part of its extended global family:

  • The British planted the first camellia sinensis (tea) plant in Sri Lanka in the 1800s following a blight that had wiped out the coffee crop, sparking new traditions built around tea farming.
  • Today, tea cultivation is a $1.5 billion industry in Sri Lanka employing more than 1 million people who produce the world’s most expensive tea.
  • Before 1972, while under British colonization, the island was known as “Ceylon.” Hence tea from Sri Lanka is still called Ceylon tea.
  • Every tea estate in Sri Lanka with which Bigelow Tea does business is part of the Ethical Tea Partnership, which promotes fair treatment of workers and sustainable farming practices.
  • With high elevations that can exceed 6,000 feet, Sri Lankan tea gardens boast extremely favorable soil and weather conditions for growing delicate tea plants.
  • Each Sri Lankan estate prides itself on producing signature teas—much the same way vintners age wines for different tastes.

Enjoy the delicious results in your mug of Bigelow black tea! @Daniela441 tweeted his love for English Teatime. What’s your favorite Bigelow black tea blend?

Bigelow Tea Takes A Look At Cataract Awareness Month

bigelow tea green tea mug
Your eyes are like cameras, taking in images of what’s around you. Since June is Cataract Awareness MonthBigelow Tea is getting a clear perspective on how cataracts can affect vision. So brew up a little iced tea and read on!

bigelow tea iced teaAccording to the American Optometric Association, a cataract can impact the eye’s lens, which focuses light onto the retina to transmit what images the brain can see. A cataract blocks light from properly passing through the lens, which in turn can make your vision blurry or dim. Just like with a camera, a blurry lens affects how the images come out!

Cataracts can happen at any age, but they often develop as you become older. Treatment can really make a difference in handling cataracts, so it’s important to visit your eye doctor on a regular basis.  Nutrition, too, plays a factor, as lutein and Vitamins C & E appear to help with eye health.

And let’s not forget about tea’s connection to eye health where over the last decade, researchers have begun to study the effects of black tea, green tea, and EGCG from green tea extract on preventing the development of cataracts in the lens of the eye.  So, during this warmer weather—and during Iced Tea Month—enjoy Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegranate Iced Tea. Sip a little while you plan on having a clearer view of taking care of your eyes!

Dive Into History With An Ancient Book And Bigelow Tea

bigelow tea book

There’s nothing quite like enjoying a cup of Bigelow Tea while reading a classic. And a book that is over 800 years old is definitely a classic—especially one about something as timeless as tea. Grab a mug of your favorite Bigelow flavor, settle in and learn about one of the oldest books about tea. According to the book, it is the “elixir of life,” after all…

Long ago—in 1211 to be exact—a famous Buddhist priest by the name of Eisai wrote what is known to be the oldest book on tea in Japan: Kissa Yojoki (“How to Stay Healthy by Drinking Tea”). Prior to writing the two-volume book, Eisai had brought tea seeds from China to Kyoto in 1191 and had given the seeds to a priest named Myoe Shopin, who made them into Uji tea.

The book begins by saying, “Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy, and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete,” and outlines the positive effects that tea has on the vital organs, particularly the heart. It praises the value of tea as a medicine in curing indigestion, quenching thirst, avoiding fatigue, working as a stimulant, undoing the effects of alcohol, and improving brain and urinary function. The book also explains the parts of the tea plant and the appropriate dosages and administration for specific ailments.

In 1214, legend holds that Eisai introduced tea to the Samurai in an effort to help Shogun Minmoto no Sanetomo curb his alcohol habit. Armed with his writings on the benefits of drinking tea, Eisai allegedly helped to wean Saneomo from imbibing alcohol to drinking tea. Following that, tea drinking became popular among the Shogun and the Samurai.

Whether you’re craving a taste of history or want to spend the evening in with a book and a mug of tea like @Glam_Butterfly, Bigelow Tea is a great way to carry on the tradition of tea-drinking that stretches back centuries and across the globe!

Image via Flickr by A Girl With Tea

Bigelow Tea Talks Teapots

bigelow tea tea potBigelow Tea fans know that the perfect cup of Bigelow Tea starts in the teapot or tea kettle, but may not know much about them. Here’s a quick lesson! A tea kettle is heated on a stovetop and a teapot is not heated but the tea is steeped inside it.

bigelow tea green tea pot

A brief history of the teapot reveals that when tea and teapots were introduced to Great Britain in the early 1600s the original Chinese teapots were undifferentiated from wine-pots, which have a handle and spout. In 1694 the British East India Company indicated that all their teapots needed a grate before the spout to hold back tea leaves. Ceramic teapots are now available in a variety of colors and sizes like this Lime Green Curve Teapot (pictured above and available on the Bigelow Tea website) but they weren’t made in Britain until the 1690s!

tea pot bigelow teaToday, people typically use either stovetop or electric kettles to heat the water for their tea. Facebook Fan Marian Herbet says “a blue kettle heats my water on the stove in the winter. When the Summer comes I use an electric kettle.” Electric tea kettles quickly and quietly boil water while traditional kettles are used on a stovetop (like the Catalina Tea-Kettle in Stainless Steel, pictured above). This traditionally shaped kettle heats up quickly and keeps hands safe with a heat-resistant stay-cool lid and handle. You’ll know your water is ready when you hear the whistle!

In any case, make sure to let your water come to a rolling boil and immediately pour over your favorite Bigelow Tea flavor and of course, enjoy every sip!

Bigelow Tea Looks At Evidence That Tea Is More Than 2000 Years Old

bigelow tea historyIt turns out that “one of the world’s oldest beverages” is even older than previously thought. New analysis of plant remains found in ancient tombs confirms that they are, in fact, from tea plants. Bigelow Tea loves a good mystery and learning that the key to solving this one was the presence of theanine, an amino acid found only in tea and responsible for its relaxing properties.

According to an NPR report, the oldest known reference to tea was in a document from 59 B.C., though scholars were unsure of its accuracy. Experts now have what they believe is physical evidence of tea’s existence in two tombs that are 2,100 years old, about 100 years before the document in question. Leaf buds found in these tombs resemble the finest tea. To prove their hunch, researchers compared the chemistry of the buds to modern tea samples. The presence of caffeine was helpful, but not conclusive, evidence. A few other plants also contain caffeine. Finding theanine was “the clincher.”

The investigation also supported the belief that tea has long been highly prized and sought after, as one of the tombs –in western China – belonged to an emperor! What remains unclear is exactly how this ancient tea was enjoyed. Other evidence suggests that before modern brewing techniques, cultural practices involved mixing barley and other plants with tea for medicinal purposes.

However it was used, tea clearly has a long and distinguished history that tea lovers all over the world can appreciate. As a third-generation family-owned tea company founded 70 years ago, Bigelow Tea is proud to be a part of this tradition!

Learn Why Bigelow Tea Uses Tea From Sri Lanka

bigelow tea sri lanka cindi bigelow

High in the mountains of Sri Lanka grow acres of gorgeous tea plants renowned for yielding a light, bright brew prized as “the champagne of teas.” Bigelow Tea founder Ruth Campbell Bigelow fell in love with tea from the region and initiated a partnership that has endured for 67 years! Third-generation President and CEO Cindi Bigelow was thrilled to visit this tiny island country in South Asia to meet the folks who expertly hand-pick tea leaves used in Bigelow’s black teas.

For a rare peek inside the tea gardens of Sri Lanka, check out Cindi’s Sri Lanka journal and videos. And here are a few more interesting facts highlighting why Bigelow Tea embraces Sri Lankan tea producers as part of its extended global family:

  • The British planted the first camellia sinensis (tea) plant in Sri Lanka in the 1800s following a blight that had wiped out the coffee crop, sparking new traditions built around tea farming.

bigelow tea english breakfast black tea

  • Today, tea cultivation is a $1.5 billion industry in Sri Lanka employing more than 1 million people who produce the world’s most expensive tea.
  • Before 1972, while under British colonization, the island was known as “Ceylon.” Hence tea from Sri Lanka is still called Ceylon tea.
  • Every tea estate in Sri Lanka with which Bigelow Tea does business is part of the Ethical Tea Partnership, which promotes fair treatment of workers and sustainable farming practices.
  • With high elevations that can exceed 6,000 feet, Sri Lankan tea gardens boast extremely favorable soil and weather conditions for growing delicate tea plants.
  • Each Sri Lankan estate prides itself on producing signature teas —much the same way vintners age wines for different tastes.

Enjoy the delicious results in your mug of Bigelow black tea! @Daniela441 tweeted his love for English Teatime. What’s your favorite Bigelow black tea blend?