[FOUNTAIN]The story of tea“Chajing,” written by Lu Yu of China’s Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907), is regarded as the Bible of tea. According to this book, the Chinese ground boiled tea leaves and lumped them into a cake. Then the cakes were left for years underground. The best were fermented for more than a hundred years. This technique is still used for the puerh tea of the Winnan region. But in modern times the Chinese are drinking more urong tea or paojong tea, which is less fermented than puerh tea.
Oorong tea is a little more aged than the black tea found in the Western world. Paojong tea is fermented about as long as the green tea of Korea and Japan.
Oorong tea was brought to the Western world in the early 17th century by the Dutch. At that time tea was known as a kind of elixir from the Orient, and a craze for the beverage swept through Europe, especially England, where demand for tea was exploding. The demand for tea stirred competition for trade with Asia. England in the early 18th century replaced the Netherlands as king of the tea trade with China, remaining No. 1 for more than a century.
The tea boom in England was due mostly to the Industrial Revolution. The government encouraged the consumption of tea as a substitute for milk, which often was in short supply after dairy farmers switched to industrial jobs. But since the price of tea was higher than the price of milk, the poor majority drank milk flavored with tea, and the rich consumed tea flavored with milk. That is the origin of the English tea culture.
Tea bags are more recent. In 1908, a New York city tea merchant named Thomas Sullivan invented a silk tea bag. The use of tea bags increased gradually until 1960, when the phenomenon exploded after a Japanese inventor developed a paper bag that did not break in hot water. Tea bags jumped from being present in 5 percent of tea cups in the 1960s to 85 percent today.
Eleanore Roosevelt, the U.S. first lady, loved to say, “A woman is like a tea bag. Nobody knows how strong it is until it is drowned in boiling water.”
Hillary Clinton says in her recent book that she has murmured “a woman is like a tea bag,” when Republicans attacked her positions.
In England, Noma Major, the wife of former Prime Minister John Major, was loved by the English people for her humbleness and frugality. She was known to use her tea bag twice even after she entered 10 Downing Street.
by Kim Seok-whan
The writer is a JoongAng Ilbo editorial writer.