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By Francis Leggett & Co.
The casual reader in many a nook and corner of this extended land
will perhaps ask - "Who are the publishers of this book, and what
is their purpose?" We anticipate any such enquiry, and reply
that Francis H. Leggett & Co. are Importing and Manufacturing
Grocers; that our object in publishing this and other books is to
bring ourselves and our goods into closer relations with
consumers at a distance from New York; and incidentally, to
provide readers with interesting information respecting the food
which they eat and drink.
In our search for material to aid in the preparation of this
book, we were greatly indebted to Mr. F. N. Barrett, editor of
THE AMERICAN GROCER, who generously gave us access to what is
probably the most complete and valuable collection of books upon
Foods to be found on this continent.
We wish to also to acknowledge the kind response of Messrs. Gow,
Wilson and Stanton, of London, to our requests for statistics of
the World's Tea Trade, and particularly for information
respecting the Teas of Ceylon and India. If our limitations of
space had permitted, we should have materially increased the
interest of our little book by additional matter derived from the
last named firm.
(Omitted) Our colored Frontispiece is a faithful representation
of a Chinese tea plant, showing the flower and the seeds.
"Pray thee, let it serve for table-talk." - Merchant of Venice.
"A cup of tea!" Is there a phrase in our language more
eloquently significant of physical and mental refreshment, more
expressive of remission of toil and restful relaxation, or so
rich in associations with the comforts and serenity of home life,
and also with unpretentious, informal, social intercourse?
If rank in the scale of importance of any material thing is to be
determined by its extensive and continued influence for good, to
tea must be conceded a very elevated position among those
agencies which have contributed to man's happiness and well-
Most remarkable changes have occurred in the production of tea
during the past century. About sixty years ago all the tea
consumed on the globe was grown in China and Japan. Our knowledge
of the growth and manufacture of tea was then of an uncertain and
confused character, and no European had ever taken an active part
in the production of a pound of tea. To-day, about one-half of
the tea consumed in the world is grown and manufactured upon
English territory, on plantations owned and superintended by
Englishmen, who have thoroughly mastered every detail of the art,
while nearly all the tea drank in Great Britain is English grown.
Twenty years ago, the suggestion that tea might yet be grown upon
a commercial scale in the United States was received with
derision by the Press and its readers; but one tea estate in
South Carolina has during the past year grown, manufactured, and
sold at a profit, several thousand of the tea of good quality,
which brought a price equal to that of foreign fine teas.
A natural taste for hot liquid foods and drinks is common to all
races of men, and they may be traced in the soups of meat and
fish, and in their decoctions or infusions of vegetable leaves,
seeds, barks, etc.
Hot "teas" were in habitual use as beverages among civilized
nations long before they ever heard of Chinese tea, of coffee, or
of cocoa. The English people, for instance, freely indulged in
infusions of Sage leaves, of leaves of the Wild Marjoram, the
Sloe, or blackthorn, the currant, the Speedwell, and of Sassafras
bark. In America, Sassafras leaves and bark were used for teas by
the early colonists, as were the leaves of Gaultheria
(Wintergreen), the Ledums (Labrador tea), Monarda (Horsemint,
Bee-balm, or Oswego tea), Ceanothus (New Jersey tea or red-root),
etc. Charles Lamb, in his essay upon Chimney Sweeps, mentions the
public house of Mr. Reed, on Fleet street in London, as a place
where Sassafras tea (and Salop) were still served daily to
customers in his time, about 1823. Mate, Yerba, or Paraguay tea
has been a national beverage for millions of people in the
central portions of South America for several centuries.
With the exception of Mate, not one of the above named
substitutes for Chinese tea contains the peculiar nerve
stimulating and nerve refreshing constituent upon which depends
the physiological value of Black or Green tea, the Theine: nor do
they possess the characteristic flavoring principle or essential
oil which distinguishes commercial teas from all other known
plant products. The Ledums are indeed accredited by Professor
James F. Johnson (Chemistry of Common Life) with stimulating and
narcotic properties, but the same may be said of tobacco.
A comforting, stimulating and healthful beverage, which has been
in habitual use by the most extensive nation of the globe for
more than a thousand years, and which has at length become a
necessity as well as a luxury for seven hundred millions of
people, or of a majority of the inhabitants of the earth, is
certainly worthy of more than the passing thought which
accompanies its daily use in the form of "cup of tea."
Douglass Jerriold, writing of tea, some 50 years ago, said: -
"Of the social influence of Tea upon the masses of the people in
this country, it is not very easy to say too much. It has
civilized brutish and turbulent homes, saved the drunkard from
his doom, and to many a mother, who else have indeed been most
wretched and forlorn, it has given cheerful, peaceful thoughts
that have sustained her. Its work among us in England and
elsewhere, aye, throughout the civilized world, has been
humanizing and good. Its effect upon us all has been socially
healthful; peaceful, gentle and hearty."
There is no article of common use about which so little is
popularly known, or of which "we know so many things which are
not so." The very names of the various kinds of tea which we use
are mysteries of meaning to those who have not made special
researches into the subject. And the cause of the distinctions in
the qualities of different teas, as of black and green, are still
matters of uncertainty and controversy among many dealers of
teas, as well as among unscientific travelers and some untraveled
scientists. The enthusiastic collector of writings upon tea by
self qualified experts, will find himself involved in a maze of
contradictory assertions and opinions from which there is no
escape save by the exercise of judicial powers, by an independent
exercise of his own judgment, in separating truth from error. And
unless he is a proficient in physiology and chemistry, he will
find himself baffled at last, because several important
scientific questions concerning Tea are still unsolved by
Then there are otherwise sane persons who profess to discover in
the habitual use of tea by whole nations a cause of national
deterioration. We record the fact as one of the curiosities of
mental perversity in an age of general intelligence.
How the inestimable qualities which lie latent in the green leaf
of the Tea tree or bush were discovered and developed by the
Chinese is one of those mysteries which we shall never solve. For
it is a remarkable fact that neither the green leaf of the tea
plant, nor the tea leaf dried without mans agency, conveys to
human senses any hint of the agreeable or valuable qualities for
which tea is esteemed, and which have been developed by the art
of man. A leaf of any one of the mints, or of the sassafras tree,
or of the wintergreen vine, after being bruised in the hand and
applied to the nose or the mouth, makes instant impression upon
the senses of taste and small, and at once informs us of its
distinctive qualities. Not so with the tea leaf; a hundred
valueless plants impress those senses more vividly than the leaf
which is worth them all. Infuse the green leaf of the Tea plant
and the prized properties of "Tea" are still wanting, but in
their stead, positively deleterious qualities are said to appear
in the infusion. Commercial Tea must be regarded as an artificial
production. A certain degree of artificial heat, of manipulation,
and induced chemical changes, are the agents which develop the
flavor and aroma of the tea leaf. And the nature of man's
treatment and manipulation determines in large measure not only
the desired flavor, but the distinguishing character of the tea,
its rank as a green, a black, or an "English Breakfast Tea,"
all three of which may be evolved by skilful manipulation from
the same tea bush, at the same time.
Much has been said and written in contention upon this latter
assertion, and books may be quoted upon either side of the
question, but we make the statement without qualification and
upon unquestionable authority.
As Chinese teas became known to the inhabitants of other parts of
Asia, and to Europeans, curiosity and commercial interests
impelled other races to seek information concerning the origin
and treatment of different Chinese teas. The prices obtained by
the Chinese from foreigners for teas two and three centuries ago
were most exorbitant, and paid the Chinese Government and Chinese
merchants an enormous profit. Quite naturally that sagacious
nation saw the danger of letting the truth concerning the origin,
manufacture and cost of their most precious commodity pass into
the possession of other people, and they strove to prevent
foreigners from penetrating to their inland tea gardens, while
they plied inquisitive enquirers with fairy tales which were
eagerly swallowed. They said that every different kind of tea was
the product of a different species of plant, which bore a
different name, and that the manufacture was a most intricate
process depending upon secrets confined to a very few; that the
leaves could safely be plucked only at certain phases of the
moon, and at certain hours of the day, and that some delicate
varieties of tea leaves were plucked only by young maidens, etc.
They even allowed Europeans to believe that green tea was colored
by salts of copper, on copper plates, having doubtless learned
that their were European merchants who would not be deterred from
vending poisonous foods provided a good fat profit attended the
transaction. In short, they practiced some of the dissimulation
and tricks of trade to which many merchants were addicted.
To particularize further, and yet generalize at the same time, we
will say here that the Tea plant or tree is greatly modified in
hardiness, in height, in size of leaf, and in the quality of the
leaf for a beverage, by soil, by moisture, tillage, and climate.
Some soils and some climates develop a tea plant decidedly more
suitable for a green tea than for a black tea, and vice-versa.
The Formosa Oolong, with its natural flowery fragrance is a
product of a peculiar soil, said to be a clay topped with rich
humus. Analysis would probably disclose peculiarities in that
soil not yet found in other tea districts. In removal to other
soils and other localities, the Formosa Tea plant loses its most
precious characteristic, its sweet flowery aroma and taste. The
total product of this tea is but 18,000,000 lbs. per annum, an
insignificant quantity compared with the aggregate crops of
Chinese or of Indian tea gardens. If the exceptional
characteristics of Formosa Oolong accompanied the plant when
removed to other localities, its cultivation would quickly become
What is known or believed concerning the remote history of Tea
and of its dissemination among other nations than the Chinese and
Japanese, has been told so often that its recapitulation becomes
tedious to those who are familiar with the story. But this book
is intended for the general reader, and for the purpose of
collecting and welding together disconnected and floating facts
and scraps of tea literature gathered from many sources.
Until a quite recent period botanists believed that the tea plant
was a native of China, and that its growth was confined to China
and Japan. But it is now definitely known that the tea plant is a
native of India, where the wild plant attains a size and
perfection which concealed its true character from botanical
experts, as well as from ordinary observers, for many years after
it had become familiar to them as a native of Indian forests.
How early in the history of the Chinese that people discovered
and developed the inestimable qualities of the tea plant is not
known. That Chinese scholar, S. Wells Williams, in his Middle
Kingdom places the date about 350 A.D. But somewhere between 500
A.D. and 700 A.D. Tea had become a favorite beverage in Chinese
families. Some of the written records of that ancient people push
the epoch of tea-drinking back as far as 2700 B.C., appealing to
ambiguous utterances of Confucius for corroboration. Tea in China
had obtained sufficient importance in political economy in 783 or
793 A.D. to become an object of taxation by the Chinese
Gibbon, in his great work, tells us that as early as the sixth
century, caravans conveyed the silks and spices and sandal wood
of China by land from the Chinese Sea westward to Roman markets
on the Mediterranean, a distance of nearly 6,000 miles. But we
hear no mention of the introduction of tea into Europe or western
Asia until a thousand years later.
According to Mr. John McEwan (International Geog. Congress,
Berlin, 1899,) tea soon found its way from China into Japan and
Formosa, but was not cultivated in Japan on a commercial scale
until the 12th century.
John Sumner, in a Treatise on Tea (Birmingham, 1863), states that
the Portuguese claim to have first introduced tea into Europe,
about 1557. Disraeli (Curiosities of Literature) offers evidence
that tea was unknown in Russian Court circles as late as 1639.
But Russia and Persia seem to have naturalized tea as a beverage
about the same time that it became known in England. Little is
said about Persian tea-drinking in modern writing upon tea, but
the testimony of many travelers bears witness to the national
love of tea by Persians.
The Encyclopedia Britannica concedes to the Dutch, the honor of
being the first European tea-drinkers, and states that early
English supplies of tea were obtained from Dutch sources. It is
related by Dr. Thomas Short, (A Dissertation on Tea, London,
1730), that on the second voyage of a ship of the Dutch East
India Co. to China, the Dutch offered to trade Sage, as a very
precious herb, then unknown to the Chinese, at the rate of three
pounds of tea for one pound of Sage. The new demand for sage at
one time exhausted the supply, but after a while the Orientals
had a surfeit of sage-tea, and concluded that Chinese tea was
quite good enough for Chinamen. If the European traders had known
the virtue of sage-tea for stimulating the growth of human hair,
and had given the Orientals the cue, sage leaves might have
retained their high value with the Chinese until now.
In these days, it may be remarked, the Dutch are said to drink as
much tea per capita as the Russians, who are as fond of tea as
While both the English and Dutch East India Companies exhibited
in England small samples of tea as curiosities of barbarian
customs very early in the 17th century, tea did not begin to be
used as a beverage in England even by the Royalty until after
In a number of the weekly Mercurius Politicus (a predecessor of
the present London Gazette), dated September 30, 1658, occurs
"That excellent and by all pysitians approved China drink called
by the Chineans Tcha, by other nations Tay, alias Tee, is sold at
the Sultaness Head, a Cophee-house in Sweetings Rents, by the
Royal Exchange, London."
This appears to be the earliest recorded and authentic evidence
of the use of tea in England.
Macaulay, in a note in his History of England, says that tea
became a fashionable drink among Parisians, and went out of
fashion, before it was known in London, and refers to the
published correspondence of the French physician, Dr. Guy Patin,
with Dr. Charles Spon, under dates of March 10 and 22, 1648, for
proof of the fact. Macaulay also says that Cardinal Mazarin was a
great tea-drinker, and Chancellor Seguier, likewise.
Frankest and shrewdest among men of brains who have given to the
world their inmost thoughts, old Samuel Pepys, pauses in the
midst of conferences with Kings and Princes to record that "I
did send for a cup of tea (a China Drink) of which I had never
drank before." This in September 1660. Seven years later he
writes in that wonderful Diary - "Home, and there find my wife
drinking of tee, a drink which Mr. Pelling, the Potticary, tells
her is good for her cold and defluxions." Then goes on to rejoice
over the repulse of the Dutch in an attempt upon London.
To coffee and tea are due the establishment of that unique
English institution, the London Coffee House. Inns, where quests
were expected to lodge as well as eat; restaurants, in which men
tarried only for a single meal; and Beer and Spirit shops,
abounded in London; but the Coffee House ushered in a new era,
and actually changed the daily habits of a large majority of
representative London citizens. While it is asserted Mr. Jacobs
established the first Coffee House in England, at Oxford, it was
a native of Smyrna by the name of Pasqua Rosee who first opened a
Coffee House in London, in St. Michael's Alley, Cornhill, in
1652. Hot coffee only was here dispensed, during the day and
Coffee Houses soon increased in number and extended over the
business districts of London. Business men quickly recognized the
value of a beverage which cleared the mental vision while
refreshing and stimulating both mind and body, and repaired to
the Coffee House at all hours for the joint purpose of drinking
coffee and transacting business with their fellows. Coffee-Houses
became the Commercial Exchanges of London, and they were also the
precursors of modern English Clubs. Men of affairs, Statesmen,
literary celebrities, artists, naval and military officers, all
repaired to the Coffee Houses to meet each other, to hear and
discuss the serious topics and the light gossip of the day.
The introduction of tea gave the coffee-houses another strong
hold upon their customers, and chocolate as a beverage soon
followed. Among the early dispensors of these harmless hot drinks
was Thomas Garway, or as written later, Garraway, whose four-
story brick coffee-house on Exchange Alley, first opened in 1659,
had been a rallying point for Londoners for 216 years, when it
was pulled down to make room for other structures, in 1873.
Garraway left a monument that has outlasted his coffee-house, in
the form of a famous tea circular.
Garway's Famous Circular is so often quoted and mutilated that we
print it here in full; it has no date, but it is supposed to have
been printed in 1660:
AN EXACT DESCRIPTION OF THE GROWTH, QUALITY AND VIRTUES
OF THE TEA LEAF, by Thomas Garway, in Exchange Alley,
near the Royal Exchange, in London, Tobacconist, and
Seller and Retailer of Tea and Coffee.
"Tea is generally brought from China, and groweth there
upon little shrubs and bushes, the branches whereof are
well garnished with white flowers, that are yellow
within, of the bigness and fashion of sweet-brier, but
in smell unlike, bearing thin green leaves, about the
brightness of Scordium, Myrtle or Sumack. This plant has
been reported to grow wild only, but doth not: for they
plant it in their gardens about four foot distance and
it groweth about four foot high, and of the seeds they
maintain and increase their stock. Of all places in
China this plant groweth in greatest plenty in the
province of Xemsi, latitude 36 degrees bordering up on
the west of the province of Namking, near the city of
Lucheu, the Island Ladrones, and Japan, and is called '
ChA.' Of this famous leaf there are divers sorts (though
all one shape), some much better than others, the upper
leaves excelling the others in fineness, a property
almost in all plants; which leaves they gather every
day, and drying them in the shade or in iron pans, over
a gentle fire, till the humidity be exhausted, then put
close up in leaden pots, preserve them for their drink,
TEA, which is used at meals, and upon all visits and
entertainments in private families, and in the palaces
of grandees; and it is averred by a padre of Macao,
native of Japan, that the best tea ought to be gathered
but by virgins who are destined for this work, and such,
'quae non dum manstrua patiuntur; gemmae quae nascuntur
in summitate arbuscula servantur Imperatori,
acpraecipuis e jus dynastus: quae autem infra nasccuntur
adlatera, populo conceduntur.'
The said leaf is of such known virtues, that those very
nations so famous for antiquity, knowledge and wisdom,
do frequently sell it among themselves for twice its
weight in silver; and the high estimation of the drink
made therewith hath occasioned an enquiry into the
nature threrof amongst the most intelligent persons of
all nations that have travelled in those parts, who,
after exact trial and experience by all ways imaginable,
have commended it to the use of their several countries,
and for its virtues and operations, particularly as
The quality is moderately hot, proper for winter and
summer. The drink is declared to be most wholesome,
preserving in perfect health until extreme old age. The
particular virtues are these;
It maketh the body active and lusty.
It helpeth the headache, giddiness and heaviness
It removeth the obstructions of the spleen.
It is very good against the stone and gravel, cleaning
the kidneys and ureters, being drank with virgin's
honey, instead of sugar.
It taketh away the difficulty of breathing, opening
It is good against tipitude, distillations, and cleareth
It removeth lassitude, and cleanseth and purifieth acrid
humours, and a hot liver.
It is good against crudities, strengthening the weakness
of the ventricle, or stomach, causing good appetite and
digestion, and particularly for men of corpulent body,
and such as are great eaters of flesh.
It vanquisheth heavy dreams, easeth the frame, and
strengtheneth the memory.
It overcometh superfluous sleep, and prevents sleepiness
in general; a draught of the infusion being taken, so
that without trouble, whole nights may be spent in
study, without hurt to the body, in that it moderately
healeth and bindeth the mouth of the stomach.
It prevents and cures agues, surfets, and fevers, by
infusing a fit quantity of the leaf, thereby provoking a
most gentle vomit and breathing of the pores, and hath
been given with wonderful success.
It (being prepaired and drank with milk and water)
strengthenth the inward parts, and prevents consumption;
and powerfully assuageth the pains of the bowels, or
griping of the guts, and looseness.
It is good for colds, dropsys, and scurvys, if properly
infused, purging the body by sweat and urine, and
It driveth away all pains of the collick proceeding from
wind, and purgeth safely the gall.
And that the virtues and excellences of this leaf and
drink are many and great is evident and manifest by the
high esteem and use of it (especially of late years)
among the physicians and knowing men of France, Italy,
Holland and in England it hath been sold in the leaf for
six pounds (sterling) and sometimes for ten pounds the
pound weight; and in respect of its former scarceness
and dearness it hath been only used as a regalia in high
treatments and entertainments, and presents made thereof
to princes and grandees till the year 1657. The said
Thomas Gaeway did purchase a quantity thereof, and first
publicly sold the said tea in leaf and drink, made
according to the directions of the most knowing
merchants and travelers in those eastern countries; and
upon knowledge and experience of the said Garway's