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Alphabe Thursday … T is for the Tea Tree and its Leaves

October 4, 2012

It is assumed that tea has always been taken as an infusion of leaves in hot water.  Of course on reflection this doesn’t seem logical; it would have been monkeys and small mammals who first demonstrated the fine attributes of the tea tree leaves.

Studies show that forest dwellers in Thailand, Burma, Assam and south west China actually ate the tea tree leaves.  The tribal peoples used wild tea tree leaves to make small bundles of steamed and fermented tea for chewing.
Legends suggest that it was later when a camelia leaf was accidently dropped into boiling water and made into a drink.  Thus becoming the normal way to take tea in China and central Asia.  However, in Tibet and high altitudes it is continued to be served in a semi-food form made with yak butter and sugar or balls of tea leaves much like it was in the early tribes as mentioned before.
The trade in this attractive and useful leaf began hundreds of years ago.  There are legends dating back to the 4th century BC when religious teachers were considering medicine and herbs to increase their spirituality and that of their students and to safeguard their worldly position.
Taoists and Buddhists were particularly attracted this new plant elixir that could help meditation, mental concentration and stave of sleep.
There was one difficulty; the leaves grew on tall trees far away in the forest.  However the rich Chinese with their mighty organisational skills managed to change the shape and size of the tree into a small and easily harvested bush.
Tea become and continues to be highly prized for relieving fatigue, delighting the soul, strengthening the will and repairing the eyesight.  It was not only used as an internal medicine it was applied as a paste to alleviate rheumatic pains.
The Taoists claimed tea was an active ingredient for immortality.  The Buddhists continued to use it extensively to prevent drowsiness during long hours of meditation.
However this was just the beginning …

Further reading:-

The book tea by Kakuzo Okakura 

Green gold ; the empire of tea by Alan Macfarlane and Iris Macfarlane 

10 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2012 7:35 pm

    I need to start drinking tea in the afternoon. I am always craving a nap.

  2. October 4, 2012 7:46 pm

    I love a cup of tea in the late afternoon.

    Great Post!

  3. October 7, 2012 12:52 am

    Definitely no yak butter…my daughter and I experienced it while trekking in the Yunnan province of China…ick I.C.K…. my favorite tea these days is rooibos from S. Africa.

    • October 7, 2012 7:18 am

      Yes … I have had Rooibos but only as a bag and only once . I liked it. Thank you for the comment. I would like to go to the Himalayas and Tibet maybe not in this lifetime but will continue to make good wishes.

  4. October 7, 2012 7:01 am

    The yak butter sounds kinda good to me!

  5. October 11, 2012 11:49 pm

    That picture is so neat.

    I keep thinking, ‘nun’, and can’t make that match the vision of have saved from all my years at Catholic Academy.

    Love Rooibos tea.

    Thanks for a terrically calm and lovely link to the letter “T”.


  6. October 12, 2012 6:37 am

    Yes, its an image that I too enjoy. Since I have been writing in this ‘I am a nun drinking tea’ rather than saying ‘I am nun and I am holy and more holy than you’. I have found similarities rather than differences … and it has been calming and refreshing. I would like to try some Rooibus xx

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