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Tea Leaves   By:

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TEA LEAVES

By Francis Leggett & Co.

PREFATORY

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.

TEA LEAVES

"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 being.

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... Continue reading book >>




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