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History

Darjeeling: The First Harvest of Spring

Mary Ann Rollano

Imagine your first cup of Darjeeling tea. The aroma greats you with a soft flowery scent. The taste is delicate with a fruity apricot peach flavor. You have just experienced a tea like no other. Darjeeling first flush spring tea is widely regarded as some of the worlds finest black tea.

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History

Tea Acronyms: What Do Those Words & Letters Mean?

Heather Edwards

What do these initials and words mean? And, why don’t all tea-growing countries use them? Of the more than 35 countries which produce tea, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and India are the primary users of these designations in all their tea-growing areas to describe broken or full tea leaves, leaf position, and words for their appearance and fragrance.

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History

History of the Tea Strainer

Samantha Albala

Documentation of tea tools such as the tea strainer appear in ancient history, the earliest models were likely made of bamboo, and later evolved into stainless steel, sterling silver, china, porcelain, silicon, and linen. However, using a tea tool to keep run away tea leaves out of a cup did not become a cited use of the strainer until the 17th century when Dutch merchants made tea more readily available to those outside of the Chinese dynasty.

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History Holiday Teas

Holiday Tea Parties & Temperance in the 1800s

Luke Pabst

In the late 1700s and 1800s, alcohol consumption in the UK was widespread and rowdy. Gin and beer were England's go-to liquid consumables at the time, tag-teaming the Victorian's into a perpetual drunkenness. But along came the steaming glorious savior, that cheap precious drink of a divine nature itself, which we so heartily refer to as Tea.

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History Yaupon Holly

The Origins and History of Yaupon Holly

Leroy Burnett

As more and more people search for caffeinated alternatives to coffee, plant based tisanes are gaining traction for their health benefits. They have the ability to soothe and heal as they energize. As a result, tisanes containing caffeine are imported around the world to satisfy enormous demand. Yaupon is more recently finding many happy tea drinkers who love it for its caffeine, antioxidants, and its harmonious presence in the local-foods movement.

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History "Take some more tea," the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.

Carroll's Classic Celebrates Sesqui-Centennial

Diana Rosen

This year, 2015, is the 150th anniversary of the publication of "Alice in Wonderland" and tea lovers around are sharing their love of this enduring (and endearing) tale. Like many classic children's books, Alice is more- much more- than it seems. It charms on two levels. For children, it's a phantasmagorically rich story sprinkled with nonsense. And, for adults, it's a droll satire of Victorian manners with a nod to the lack of food safety during that era.

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History Customer Profile Photos

Adagio Celebrates 15th Anniversary

David Schloss

On June 4th, 2014, Adagio celebrates fifteen years since the first order was placed on our website. To celebrate this milestone, and the customers that helped us reach it, we created a photo mosaic out of our customer profile images and hung that across a wall in our office.

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History In Support of Tea

Essayist Calls Tea

Diana Rosen

It may be difficult to believe this in the 21st century but barely 400 years ago, tea was thought by some British to be "pernicious," or harmful to society. Noted authors and religious leaders drew venomous conclusions and railed openly against the growing tea trade...

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History A Shizuoka Tea Farm

Japanese Tea and Radiation

Christine Banks

Following the March 11th earthquake and subsequent problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, reports surfaced of radiation in the Japanese food supply. After immediate concern for the Japanese people, many people began to wonder: how will this affect tea?

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History Afternon Tea

How Afternoon Tea was 'Invented'

Jane Pettigrew

If you're looking for a break during your busy holiday season, why not host an Afternoon Tea? It's easy and affordable with simple elegance. Learn more about this English tea tradition in this article and feel free to share your knowledge at your next tea party!

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History The Author At Phoenix Mountain

Oolong: Hail the Black Dragon!

Angela Justice

Intrigued by the mysterious oolong? This article will demystify and perhaps pique your interest about this special tea. Lately, it is being toted around as a weight-loss miracle, but don't be fooled. Enjoy reading the facts about everyone's new favorite tea.

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History Opium Smokers

Multiple Infusions and the National Archives

Chris Cason

I was recently approached by the U.S. National Archives Dept. and asked to contribute a few words for a new exhibit on tea and early Philadelphia. The exhibit, based in the Philadelphia Archives Building, has since been completed and opened to the public through November 2005.

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History Chris Cason with Santa

Giving Tea

Chris Cason

Dear Santa, This year, my holiday wishes have changed. I've decided not to ask for a puppy again (as this request has gone unrequited for our past two correspondences), but instead have found something even more desirable: tea.

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History Rooibos Tea

Rooibos Tea

Chris Cason

Deep in the heart of South Africa, in the mountains and valleys of the Cedarberg region near Cape Town, vast vistas, fields of verdant green bushes, fill the landscape. Traveling throughout this precipitous expanse, one may not suspect that this bright bush, which the locals refer to as "Rooibos," (pronounced roy-boss), could be such a versatile and remarkable herb.

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History Bohea

Teas of Yore: Bohea, Hyson and Congou

Diana Rosen

A reader wrote recently to say she was stumped to figure out a five-letter word for tea. She had come up with B_H_A but wasn't sure how to complete the word. Had she been an 18th century poetry lover, she would have surely known the answer: BOHEA, a black tea from China that at the time enchanted both Europe and its colonies across the pond.

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History Glass Blowing

Jenaer Glas: A Story Made of Glass

Michael Cramer

Jenaer Glas makes among the finest consumer glass items in the world. Its stylish teapots are rightly considered works of art, with some on display in renowned art museums. On a recent trip to Jena, Germany, the university town that the company calls home, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it has an interesting history that is worth telling.

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History

Bootleg Tea

James Norwood Pratt

Tea had become England's national drink by 1800 and she was importing an average of twenty-four million pounds a year, it is said. It is now time for me to admit that all figures relating to earlier tea consumption in England are merely official, which is to say, misleading.

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History Darjeeling #22 Tea

Darjeeling: Sultan's Tea

James Norwood Pratt

The main problem with Dareeling tea is quantity: there will never be enough to satisfy demand. The region is small and produces much less per acre than Assam, for instance. It is colder and higher, growth is slow, and the crop devilishly difficult to harvest.

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History Another Good Year

Another Good Year

Diana Rosen

The year 2002 was another year of phenomenal growth for the tea industry and an exciting one for consumers. The reason? Increased attention to quality, variety, and the finalization of U.S.-approved criteria for organic produce, including tea.

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History

Empire Brewed from Tea Leaves

James Norwood Pratt

For sheer majesty, the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries offered few sights to compare with the a fleet of East Indiamen gliding down the English Channel, twenty or more great three-masters under clouds of canvas escorted by frigates of the Royal Navy busily flagging signals.

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History Buddha's Tea

Buddha's Tea

James Norwood Pratt

Various Buddhists are sometimes given credit for the discovery of tea. A contemporary of Pythagoras, Zoroaster, and Confucius, the Buddha lived in India in the 500s BCE. While there can be no one simple explanation for China's nationwide adoption of the tea habit, it is clear that the Chinese themselves associated it with the introduction and spread of the Buddhadharma.

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History Korea: The Other Tea Country

Korea: The Other Tea Country

Diana Rosen

Like its Pacific Rim neighbors, Japan, China, and Indochina, Korea is also a tea-drinking country with a rich ceremonial tea culture. Also like them, Korea owes its tea heritage to the enthusiasm and devotion of Buddhist monks who traveled the globe spreading the opportunity for enlightenment and the special alertness that tea contributes to the meditation process.

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History The Dutch Invent 'Orange Pekoe'

The Dutch Invent 'Orange Pekoe'

James Norwood Pratt

In the history of tea, as in much else, the doughty Dutch tend to get overlooked by historians writing about their more numerous neighbors. But in civilization as well as seamanship and commerce they were second to none of these neighbors in the centuries of exploration.

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History The Original Book of Tea

The Original Book of Tea

James Norwood Pratt

The Victorian art critic John Ruskin once said, "to see a thing and tell it in plain words is the greatest thing a soul can do" - and that's exactly what Lu Yu did. Lu Yu if his biographers are to be believed, was an orphan raised by Buddhist monks. As an adolescent, he rebelled (as who does not?) against the pieties and practices of his received religion.

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History Rikiyu's Morning Glory

Rikiyu's Morning Glory

Diana Rosen

As in most cultures that achieve a high measure of wealth, the Japanese suddenly found themselves with the luxury of time to devote to art, music, and other cultural experiences. Among these experiences was the beginning of the tea ceremony, Sado or Chado.

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History Sir Thomas J. Lipton

Sir Tea

James Norwood Pratt

Considered the father of modern advertising, Thomas J. Lipton was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1850. At the age of fifteen he traveled to the United States with less than eight dollars in his pocket. After working on a Virginia tobacco farm, a rice plantation in Charleston, South Carolina, and a streetcar in New Orleans, Lipton got a job in a department store's grocery in New York City.

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History China's Downfall

China's Downfall

James Norwood Pratt

A stretch of Canton waterfront eight hundred yards long by forty yards deep was as much space as the Yellow Emperor would allow Europe's eager traders. From 1685 to 1834 the transactions completed on this waterfront accounted for well over a quarter of all profits earned by the English East India Company, the IBM or General Motors of its day. Tea comprised 70-90 percent of all China's exports.

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History Tea & Steam: An Industrial Revolution

Tea & Steam: An Industrial Revolution

James Norwood Pratt

Steam, smelly steam, brought the tea trade into the industrial age. An age-old handmade product could now be manufactured by steam-powered machinery and delivered (via Suez) by steamships in half the time of the fastest, most glamorous clipper ship, which required a picked crew, a high freight rate, and a lot of luck.

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History Waltz Around a Tea Table

Waltz Around a Tea Table

Jane Pettigrew

For the Victorians, the afternoon tea party was an absolutely crucial part of social life. Ladies called on their friends for small intimate drawing room teas at which a group of four or five guests caught up with the latest gossip, sipped tea and nibbled a sandwich or two. Or they gathered in their tens to even hundreds to chatter and drink tea together at grand tea receptions held in the vast houses of the leisured and idle rich.

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History Iced Tea Duo

Iced Tea: an American Beverage

Diana Rosen

One swelteringly hot day, during the St. Louis Exposition in 1904, a tea vendor couldn't entice anyone to try his teas despite the fact that hot tea is served during warm months in his native land. Feeling the humidity, and the rebuff, acutely, he asked for some ice from the neighboring ice cream vendor, put some into a cup of tea, and voila!

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History Silver Needle White Tea

White Tea: Culmination of Elegance

Joshua Keiser

When Song Dynasty emperor Hui Zhong proclaimed white tea to be the culmination of all that is elegant, he set in motion the evolution of an enchanting variety. For centuries white tea has been shrouded in obscurity outside of China, but today its much-beloved qualities are being discovered by tea lovers around the world.

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History China's China

China's China

James Norwood Pratt

Second only to tea, perhaps the most important contribution China made to European life was "china" itself - the hard translucent glazed pottery the Chinese had invented under the Tang dynasty and which we also know as porcelain. China had long since exported porcelain over the Silk Route to Persia and Turkey and fine examples of pre-1500 china are still in everyday use there.

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History Trading Tea for Opium

Trading Tea for Opium

James Norwood Pratt

Language was not the major obstacle to doing business with the Chinese-currency was. The goods the British had to offer in trade were mainly English broadcloth, not much wanted in semitropical Canton and not allowed for sale in bitterly cold north China, where woolen cloth might have been welcome. For the difference between what they bought and what they sold, the Chinese required payment in silver.

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History 2001: A Fabulous Year for Tea

2001: A Fabulous Year for Tea

Diana Rosen

Although Americans still prefer their tea iced (85%) and black (90%) and scented or fruit flavored (35%), the continuing reportage of the health benefits of tea has encouraged the public to sample camellia sinensis, particularly green teas.

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History The Things People Said...

The Things People Said...

Jane Pettigrew

Although today we know for certain that tea is good for us, it hasn't always been like that. Over the years, some people have condemned it as poisonous and dangerous stuff; others have praised it as the best possible thing for the health and wealth of any nation.

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History Taxation Without Representation, Part II

Taxation Without Representation, Part II

James Norwood Pratt

"Who knows," a prominent merchant named John Rowe asked just before the meeting adjourned, "how tea will mix with salt water?" Whether this was a prearranged signal or not, it was answered by war whoops from a party of men, variously estimated from twenty to ninety, disguised as Mohawk Indians...

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History Taxation Without Representation

Taxation Without Representation

James Norwood Pratt

As expected of good colonists everywhere, the American colonists did their damnedest to ape the fashions of their mother countries. Thus when the English relieved the Dutch of New Amsterdam and re-christened it New York in 1674, they found themselves in possession of a colony that probably drank more tea than all England put together. The directors of John Company must have delighted to watch as the demand grew in America over the following decades.

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History Coffeehouses & Tea Gardens

Coffeehouses & Tea Gardens

James Norwood Pratt

The eighteenth century produced far and away the most amusing and attractive society that England has ever known. It was a society addicted to among other things, tea. They must have drunk that first ship's load down and sent it back for more at once, for by 1725, England was using a quarter million pounds of tea a year.

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History The Age of Clippers

The Age of Clippers

Jane Pettigrew

As the Europeans began trading tea with China in the early 17th century, and for the next two hundred years, all the activity of selecting the most suitable teas, haggling over the price, loading the chests on to the waiting cargo ships, and completing all the necessary paperwork went on in the port of Canton, forty miles inland on the Chinese river Zheijiang.

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History A 'Mariage' Made in Heaven

A 'Mariage' Made in Heaven

Karen Burns

If you love tea and you find yourself in Paris, sooner or later (probably sooner) you'll make your way to the most fabulous French tearoom of all: Mariage Frères. There you'll be dazzled by the selection of more than 500 teas, the colonial décor of potted palms and natural rattan, the handsome waiters all in white, and the extensive menu of quiches, salads, cakes and scones, many flavored with tea.

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History Russia Discovers Tea... and a Somovar

Russia Discovers Tea... and a Somovar

James Norwood Pratt

About the time that first tea order from the Dutch Lords Seventeen reached their agent in the Orient, the Mogul emperor of north India (what is now Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere), was entertaining the first agent or ambassador from his fellow despot to the north, Czar Michael Romanov, the founder of Russia's Romanov dynasty...

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History John Company and Tea's Arrival in England

John Company and Tea's Arrival in England

James Norwood Pratt

Queen Elizabeth was facing an important decision of her reign. Her valiant little navy had broken the Spanish Armada, but in international commerce the Spanish remained supreme in the West, just as Portugal was rivaled only by the Dutch in the East. As a lady with a wardrobe of three thousand costumes, mostly made of Oriental fabrics, Elizabeth was in a position to guess at the enormous profits to be had from direct trade for such goods with the Far East...

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History Equal Opportunity Beverage

Equal Opportunity Beverage

Wendy Rasmussen

Tea has a colorful history. As we all know it is an ancient beverage, whose healthful benefits have been enjoyed for thousands of years. It's also true that almost every culture has its own tea-based etiquette and methodology for serving.

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History A Nice Cup of Tea

A Nice Cup of Tea

George Orwell

When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden...

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History

Taylor, Lipton & the Birth of Ceylon Tea

Jane Pettigrew

Prior to the 1860s, Ceylon's main crop was coffee and no grower showed much interest in tea. Today, Sri Lanka (Ceylon's post-colonial name) is the world's largest exporter of tea. The two men most responsible for this transformation are James Taylor and Sir Thomas Lipton.

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History

Tea and the Guillotine

Karen Burns

Along with the heads of Louis XVI and his queen Marie Antoinette, another casualty of the French Revolution was tea. Yes, really. It's a little known fact, but after its introduction to Europe in the 17th century tea was tremendously popular in France.

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History

All the Tea in China

Bridget D. Farrell

We're still impressed when a person will not give something up "for all the tea in China." Recent times, however, have made this amount less impressive than in the past. In the twenty five years since the Chinese government reformed agriculture on the mainland, tea production has suffered in both quantity and quality.

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History

Women's Place in Tea History

Eve Hill

Like much of written history, the history of women's roles in tea commerce have often been downplayed. Other than the frequently repeated tale of Anna, Duchess of Bedford, conceiving the idea of afternoon tea in England, most of us don't think about the feminine contribution to the tea business.

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History

The Origins of Indian Tea

Jane Pettigrew

Long before the commercial production of tea started in India in the late 1830s, the tea plant was growing wild in the jungles of north east Assam. In 1598, a Dutch traveller, Jan Huyghen van Linschoten, noted in a book about his adventures that the Indians ate the leaves as a vegetable with garlic and oil and boiled the leaves to make a brew...

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