Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858). Yaozen Restaurant at Sanya from the series Grand Series of Famous Tea Houses of Edo. Japan, Edo period, ca. 1839-1842. Woodblock print; ink and color on paper.
Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), a leading ukiyo-e artist who designed poetic Japanese landscape prints, also created a print series depicting fine restaurants in Edo. Hiroshige portrayed upscale places that served special meals, followed by tea ceremonies. The restaurants also functioned as meeting places for cultural activities hosted by connoisseurs. Hiroshige’s depictions, accompanied by his trademark beautiful landscapes, inspired even more people to travel to Edo to experience the sophisticated delights of the city for themselves.
Robert Fortune, Tea Thief
Robert Fortune (16 September 1813 – 13 April 1880) was a Scottish botanist, plant hunter and traveller, best known for introducing tea plants from China to India — a story recently told by Sara Rose in For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History.
“Among Fortune’s tasks in China, and certainly as critical as providing Indian tea gardens with quality nursery stock, was to learn the procedure for manufacturing tea. From the picking to the brewing there was a great deal of factory work involved: drying, firing, rolling, and, for black tea, fermenting. Fortune had explicit instructions from the East India Company to discover everything he could: “Besides the collection of tea plants and seeds from the best localities for transmission to India, it will be your duty to avail yourself of every opportunity of acquiring information as to the cultivation of the tea plant and the manufacture of tea as practised by the Chinese and on all other points with which it may be desirable that those entrusted with the superintendence of the tea nurseries in India should be made acquainted.”
Read more at the Smithsonian.
Temperance Societies often sang hymns in praise of tea, such as this one by Mr. Collingwood Banks:
Let others sing the praise of wine, Let others deem its joys divine, Its fleeting bliss shall ne'er be mine, Give me a cup of tea! The cup that soothes each aching pain, Restores the sick to health again, Steals not from hear, steal not from brain, A friend when others flee. When sorrow frowns, what power can cheer, Or chase away the falling tear Without the vile effects of beer, Like Pekoe or Bohea? What makes the old man young and strong, Like Hyson, Congou, or Souchong, Which leave the burthen of this song A welcome cup of tea. Then hail the grave celestial band, With planning mind, and planting hand, And let us bless that golden land So far across the sea; Whose hills and vales give fertile birth To that fair shrub of priceless worth, Which yields each son of mother earth A fragrant cup of tea.
Found in: Tea and Tea Drinking, by Arthur Reade. Published by Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington. 1884.
On the Tea Horse Road
Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. Ward, Lock and Co., London 1861.
“In order to make good tea it is necessary that the water should be quite
boiling, but it must on no account be water that has boiled for some time,
or been previously boiled, cooled, and then re-boiled. It is a good plan to
empty the kettle and refill it with fresh cold water, and make the tea the
moment it reaches boiling point. Soft water makes the best tea, and boiling
softens the water, but after it has boiled for some time it again becomes
hard. When water is very hard a tiny pinch of carbonate of soda may be put
into the teapot with the tea, but it must be used very sparingly, otherwise
it may impart a very unpleasant taste to the beverage. Tea is better made in
an earthen than a metal pot. One good teaspoon of tea will be found
sufficient for two small cups, if made with boiling water and allowed to
stand 3 or 4 minutes: longer than this it should never be allowed to stand.
The delicate flavour of the tea may be preserved and injurious effects
avoided by pouring the tea, after it has stood 3 or 4 minutes, into a clean
teapot which has been previously heated.”
By Ernest H Wilson 1908, Sichuan Sheng.
“Men laden with ‘Brick Tea’ for Thibet. One man’s load weighs 317 lbs. Avoird. The other’s 298 lbs. Avoird.!! Men carry this tea as far as Tachien lu accomplishing about 6 miles per day over vile roads, 5000 ft.”
It has been suggested that Wilson must have made a mistake, or swallowed an exaggeration, about the weight of the loads. But regardless, that’s a lot of tea going up and up into the Tibetan Plateau.