After water, tea is the most consumed beverage on the blue planet, and scientists have recently confirmed what the British have known for generations – a cup of tea has “lifesaving” potential.
Not only is a cup of tea just the tonic to forget about the day from hell, soothe an exhausted soul, or put some led in your pencil, a team of researchers at Washington University in St Louis have discovered that tea is also a powerful weapon when it comes to fighting deadly diseases.
So the next time you put your feet up and enjoy a nice cup of Rosie Lee, here’s an extra bit of little known information about the miraculous brown stuff to ponder over.
A Happy Accident
We all know that tea has its origins way back in the murk and mist of ancient China, but did you realize that the most famous legend surrounding the origins of the drink involves a clumsy Emperor and his love of all things of a herbal nature?
The story goes that one fine morning Emperor Shen Nung was busy boiling up a pan of drinking water when leaves from a tea shrub accidentally blew into his cauldron. Being an experimental soul, the Emperor sampled the resulting brew and it blew his mind. The rest as they say is history.
The Tea Trend
Lady Gaga says she loves it and Kate Moss drinks up to 12 cups of it a day, but tea drinking in Britain only became the thing to do after the royal dandy that was Charles II was introduced to it by his tea obsessed Portugal wife – Princess Catherine of Braganza.
Tea drinking caught on like the common cold amongst the privileged classes who were keen to follow the royal court’s lead. Over the course of time, the affordability and availability of tea drinking saw it catch on with the middle and lower classes where it replaced ale and gin as the drink of choice.
Tea and Organized Crime
Tea was once so heavily taxed in Britain that its price was way out of the reach of everyday folk. Consequently, a huge organized crime network grew to supply the constant demand. At one point there was more tea being smuggled into Britain than gin or brandy.
For years the taxes on tea would rise whenever the U.K. needed to finance another war. By the 1780s, thousands of men in the British countryside had turned away from more traditional occupations in the fishing industry and agriculture to find gainful employment in the tea smuggling trade.
In 1784, British Prime Minister William Pitt The Younger reduced the tax on tea and compensated for the loss of governmental income by increasing the equally unpopular window tax.
Tea and Murder
The tea smuggling Hawkhurst Gang, who were based on the South Coast of England in the mid-18th century, were responsible for a particularly foul incident when they caught up with customs officer William Galley and his informant Daniel Chater in the White Hart pub in Rowlands Castle on Valentine’s Day, 1748.
Chater and Galley were whipped and then dragged 15 miles by horses. Galley was then buried alive and Chater was imprisoned in chains for two days until the gang cut his nose off and threw him headfirst into a well before stoning him to death with rocks.
Tea and the Birth of a Country
The Boston Tea Party of December 1773 was a united protest against British tea duties. Americans dressed as Mohawk Indians boarded four ships (Dartmouth, Eleanor, Beaver and William) belonging to the East India Company and threw a total of 342 chests of tea overboard.
Three years after the world’s most famous tea party, the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence changed the world forever.
The Duchess of Tea
In Britain, meals eaten in the late afternoon or early are often referred to as tea and all because Queen Victoria’s lifelong friend Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford, got a bit peckish from the noble art of doing absolutely nothing.
To fill in the gap between lunch and dinner, the Duchess found that a light meal involving tea, cakes and sandwiches was just the balance and soon began inviting all her idle friends to join her and hence afternoon tea was born.
Tea Makes you Loopy
In 2009, RAF serviceman Corporal Stewart Hefti broke the world record for flying loop-the-loops while drinking a cup of tea.
Hefti, who suffered serious leg injuries in Iraq two years prior to breaking the record, took part in the stunt to raise funds for RAF personnel and their families. As a passenger, the Corporal completed 14 loop-the-loops while enjoying a relaxing cuppa!
[Featured Image by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images]