10 Quick facts about tea

Everyone knows how great tea is, but here are a few interesting facts about tea:

Since 1945, all British tanks have come equipped with tea making facilities. Can’t have people going without on the front line, can we?

Coming next to water, tea is the second most consumed drink in the whole world. Take that, PepsiCo. Over 60 billion cups are consumed per year in the UK alone.

The Ritz Carlton of Hong Kong has the world’s most expensive High Tea meal, at a price of $8,888 per couple. For when you’re feeling flush. Although…

The priciest tea in the world is a rare Chinese oolong tea called Tie Guanyin, which is around £1,100/lb. The tea is named after the Buddhist deity Guan Yin, or the Iron Goddess of Mercy. Legend has it that a poor farmer came across a rundown temple which held an iron statue of Guan Yin. Feeling bad, he brought a broom and incense from his home and straightened the place up a bit. The goddess then came to him in a dream and revealed a secret tea plant was hidden in a cave behind the temple, and the rest is history.

The British invented two kinds of afternoon tea: “Low tea,” or afternoon tea served on a low “tea table,” and “high tea,” which is served on a “high” dining room table. So now you know the difference.

Tea was initially sold in coffee houses in England, which only men were allowed to enter. Finally, in 1717, the Twining family opened the Golden Lyon, a teashop that allowed women.

Tea sets made in the 18th century often had numbered spoons to help the host remember which guest needed a refill. So organised.

The art of reading tea leaves left in the bottom of a cup is known as tasseomancy and it is a form of divination – thought to predict the future. The beginnings of tasseomancy can be traced to medieval European fortune tellers who developed their readings from splatters of wax, lead, and presumably anything else that made a mess. Tea leaf readers would ask their client to swirl the tea around in the cup, then drink while thinking about their questions about the future.

While tea does contain caffeine, it usually feels much mellower than drinking coffee and getting jittery. The reason for this is that tea also contains something called L-theanine – which is prized for its ability to improve memory, reduce anxiety, and can even help induce meditative states.

A cult in Malaysia worships a giant teapot, as it symbolises the healing purity of water and “love pouring from heaven”. Followers who visits the commune for the first time have to drink “holy water” from the vase which is “perpetually” filled by the teapot. Neat.

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