Tea historyAll posts in the Tea history category
I finished university with a double major in History and Spanish. I pretty much never speak Spanish these days ? as multi-cultural as Melbourne is, Spanish-speaking folk aren’t that common ? and most of my days are spent working on things like newsletters, content management and spam killing for a certain travel community. Despite the fact that my day job really doesn’t have much to do with what I studied at university, history remains a passionate interest of mine.
And so I was very interested to read Liquid Jade: The Story of Tea from East to West, an engaging introduction to the tumultuous and intriguing history of tea.
Walk into any half-decent café and you’ll find it on their menu: Earl Grey tea, that wonderful blend of tea made by scenting black tea with the oil of bergamot, a citrus fruit. Short of English Breakfast and Jasmine tea, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find another tea as ubiquitous as our bergamot-infused friend.
But who was Earl Grey, and who did he bribe, maim or kill to have one of the world’s most popular teas named after him?
It began with a parasite. Hemileia vastarix, or Coffee Rust, decimated 19th century Ceylon?s coffee crops in 1869, wreaking havoc on the island’s coffee plantations and sparking the birth of the tea industry, which remains vital to the Sri Lankan economy today.