English tea and accessories

Tea - Encyclopedia Britanica 11th Edition

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TEA (Chinese cha, Amoy dialect te), the name given to the leaves of the tea bush (see below) prepared by decoction as a beverage The term is by analogy also used for an infusion or decoction of other leaves, e g. camomile tea; and similarly for the afternoon meal at which tea is served.

Table of contents

Effect on Health


Fig. 1, Bohea variety
Fig. 2, Bohea Tea-liaf full size.
Fig. 3, Epidermis of Tea-leaf (under side)
Fig. 4, Section through Tea-leaf
Fig. 5, Prices and Import Duty


The early history of tea as a beverage is mainly traditional. The lack of accurate knowledge regarding the past of the Chinese Empire may possibly some day be supplied, as European scholars become more able to explore the unstudied stores in the great Chinese libraries, or as Chinese students ransack the records of their country for the facts of earlier periods. It may then be learnt who made the first cup of tea, who planted the earliest bushes, and how the primitive methods of manufacture were evolved. In the meantime knowledge on the subject is mingled with much that is obviously mythical and with gleanings from the casual references of travellers and authors.

According to Chinese legend, the virtues of tea were discovered by the Emperor Chinnung, 2137 B.C., to whom all agricultural and medicinal knowledge is traced. It is doubtfully referred to in the book of ancient poems edited by Confucius, all of which are previous in date to 550 B.C. A tradition exists in China that a knowledge of tea travelled eastward to and in China, having been introduced S43 A.D. by Bodhidharma, an ascetic who came from India on a missionary expedition, but that legend is also mixed with supernatural details. But it is quite certain, from the historical narrative of Lo Yu, who lived in the Tang dynasty (618-906 A.D.), that tea was already used as a beverage in the 6th century, and that during the 8th century its use had become so common that a tax was levied on its consumption in the 14th year of Tih Tsung (793). The use of tea in China in the middle of the 9th century is known from Arab sources (Reinaud, Relation des Voyages, 1845, p. 40). From China a knowledge of tea was carried into Japan, and there the cultivation was established during the 9th century. Seed was brought from China by the priest Miyoye, and planted first in the south island, Kiushiu, whence the cultivation spread northwards till it reached the high limit of 39° N.

It is somewhat curious that although many of the products of China were known and used in Europe at much earlier times, no reference to tea has yet been traced in European literature prior to 1588. No mention of it is made by Marco Polo, and no knowledge of the substance appears to have reached Europe till after the establishment of intercourse between Portugal and China in 1517. The Portuguese, however, did little towards the introduction of it into Europe, and it was not till the Dutch established themselves at Bantam early in the 17th century that these adventurers learned from the Chinese the habit of tea drinking and brought it into Europe.

The earliest mention of tea by an Englishman is probably that contained in a letter from Mr Wickham, an agent of the East India Company, written from Firando in Japan, on the 27th June 1615, to Mr Eaton, another officer of the company, resident at Macao, and asking for "a pot of the best sort of chaw." How the commission was executed does not appear, but in Mr Eaton's subsequent accounts of expenditure occurs this item - "three silver porringers to drink chaw in." It was not till the middle of the century that the English began to use tea, and they also received their supplies from Java till in 1686 they were driven out of the island by the Dutch. At first the price of tea in England ranged from £6 to £10 per lb. In the Mercurius Politicus, No. 435, of September 1658, the following advertisement occurs: - "That excellent and by 'all Physitians approved China Drink called by the Chineans Tcha, by other nations Tay, alias Tee, is sold at the Sultaness Head, a cophee-house in Sweetings Rents, by the Royal Exchange, London." Thomas Garway, the first English tea dealer, and founder of the well-known coffee-house, "Garraway's," in a curious broadsheet, An Exact Description of the Growth, Quality and Virtues of the Leaf Tea, issued in 1659 or 1660, writes, "in respect of its scarceness and dearness, it hath been only used as a regalia in high treatments and entertainments, and presents made thereof to princes and grandees." In that year he purchased a quantity of the rare and much-prized commodity, and offered it to the public, in the leaf, at fixed prices varying from 15sto 50s. the lb, according to quality, and also in the in. fusion, "made according to the directions of the most knowing merchants and travellers into those eastern countries." In 1660 an Act of the first parliament of the Restoration imposed a tax on "every gallon of chocolate, sherbet and tea, made and sold, to be paid by the maker thereof, eightpence" (12 Car. II. C. 23).

Pepys's often-quoted mention of the fact that on the 25th September 1660, "I did send for a cup of tee, a China drink, of which I never had drunk before," proves the novelty of tea in England at that date. In 1664 we find that the East India Company presented the king with 2 lb and 2 oz. of "thea," which cost 40s. per lb, and two years afterwards with another parcel containing 224 lb, for which the directors paid 50s per lb. Both parcels appear to have been purchased on the Continent. Not until 1677 is the Company recorded to have taken any steps for the importation of tea. The order then given to their agents was for "teas of the best kind to the amount of Too dollars." But their instructions were considerably exceeded, for the quantity imported in 1678 was 4713 lb, a quantity which seems to have glutted the market for several years. The annals of the Company record that, in February 1684, the directors wrote thus to Madras: - "In regard thea is grown to be a commodity here, and we have occasion to make presents therein to our great friends at court, we would have you to send us yearly five or six canisters of the very best and freshest thea." Until the Revolution no duty was laid on tea other than that levied on the infusion as sold in the coffee-houses. By 1 William and Mary, c. 6, a duty of 5s. per lb and 5 per cent. on the value was imposed. For several years the quantities imported were very small, and consisted exclusively of the finer sorts. The first direct purchase in China was made at Amoy, the teas previously obtained by the Company's factors having bean purchased in Madras and Surat, whither it was brought by Chinese junks after the expulsion of the British from Java. During the closing years of the century the amount brought over seems to have been, on the average, about 20,000 lb a year. The instructions of 1700 directed the supercargoes to send home 300 tubs of the finer green teas and 80 tubs of bohea. In 1703 orders were given for "75, 000 lb Singlo (green), 10,000 lb imperial, and 20,000 lb bohea." The average price of tea at this period was 16s. per lb.

As the 18th century progressed the use of tea in England rapidly increased, and by the close of the century the rate of consumption exceeded an average of 2 lb per person per annum, a rate in excess of that of to-day of all people except those of Mongol and Anglo-Saxon origin. The business being a monopoly of the East India Company, and a very profitable one, the company at an early stage of its development endeavoured to ascertain whether tea could not be grown within its own dominions. Difficulties with China doubtless showed the advisability of having an independent source of supply. In 1788 Sir Joseph Banks, at the request of the directors, drew up a memoir on the cultivation of economic plants in Bengal, in which he gave special prominence to tea, pointing out the regions most favourable for its cultivation. About the year 1820 Mr David Scott, the first commissioner of Assam, sent to Calcutta from Kuch Behar and Rangpur - the very districts indicated by Sir Joseph Banks as favourable for tea-growing - certain leaves, with a statement that they were said to belong to the wild tea-plant. The leaves were submitted to Dr Wallich, government botanist at Calcutta, who pronounced them to belong to a species of Camellia, and no result followed on Mr Scott's communication. These very leaves ultimately came into the herbarium of the Linnean Society of London, and have authoritatively been pronounced to belong to the indigenous Assam tea-plant. Dr Wallich's attribution of this and other specimens subsequently sent in to the genus Camellia, although scientifically defensible, unfortunately diverted attention from the significance of the discovery. It was not till 1834 that, overcome by the insistence of Captain Francis Jenkins, who maintained and proved that, called by the name Camellia or not, the leaves belonged to a tea-plant, Dr Wallich admitted "the fact of the genuine tea-plant being a native of our territories in Upper Assam as incontrovertibly proved." In the meantime a committee had been formed by Lord William Bentinck, the governor-general, for the introduction of tea culture into India, and an official had already been sent to the tea districts of China to procure seed and skilled Chinese workmen to conduct operations in the Himalayan regions. The discovery and reports of Captain Jenkins led to the investigation of the capacities of Assam as a tea-growing country by Lord William Bentinck's committee. Evidence of the abundant existence of the indigenous tea-tree was obtained; and the directors of the East India Company. resolved to institute an experimental establishment in Assam for cultivating and manufacturing tea, leaving the industry to be developed by private enterprise should its practicability be demonstrated.

In 1834 the monopoly of the East India Company was abolished and an era of rapid progress in the new industry began. In 1836 there was sent to London i lb of tea made from indigenous leaves; in 1837 5 lb of Assam tea were sent; in 1838 the quantity sent was 12 small boxes, and 95 boxes reached London in 1839. In 1840 there were grown, and offered at public auction in Calcutta early the following year, 35 packages, chiefly green teas, stated to have been manufactured by a chief of the Singpho tribe aided by the government establishment. In the same auction catalogue were included 95 packages, "the produce of the Government Tea Plantation in Assam," many of which bore the Chubwa mark, one well known to this day. This auction is most interesting as being the first of British-grown tea, and it included about 6000 lb. It is of interest also for the reference to the Singpho tribe, who are even now in small numbers in the same district, where they still produce in a primitive manner tea plucked from the indigenous trees growing in their jungles.

In January 1840 the Assam Company was formed to take over the early tea garden of the East India Company, and this, the premier company, is still in existence, having produced up to 1907 no less than 117,000,000 lb of tea and paid in dividends X1,360,000 or 730 per cent. on capital. It is no longer the first company in extent of yield, as the Consolidated Tea and Lands Company produced in 1907 about 15,000,000 lb of tea, besides other products. The introduction of Chinese seed and Chinese methods was a mistake, and there seems little reason to doubt that, in clearing jungle for tea planting, fine indigenous tea was frequently destroyed unwittingly in order to plant the inferior China variety. The period of unlearning the Chinese methods, and replacing the Chinese plants, had to be lived through. Vicissitudes of over-production and inflation came to interfere with an even course of success, but the industry developed and has increased enormously. From its point of origin in Assam, it has gradually spread to other districts with varying commercial success. The aggregate total of capital of the tea-producing companies in India and Ceylon now amounts to about 25,000,000.

The Dutch were rather earlier than the English in attempting to establish tea growing in their eastern possessions. A beginning was made in Java in 1826, but probably because of the even more marked influence of Chinese methods and Chinese plant, the progress was slow and the results indifferent. Of late years, however, by the introduction of fine Assam seed and the adoption of methods similar to those in use in India, a marked improvement has taken place, and there seems little reason to doubt that, with the very rich soil and abundant cheap labour that the island of Java possesses, the relative progress there may be greater in future than in any other producing land.

Somewhere about 1860 the practical commercial growing of tea was introduced into the island of Formosa. The methods of cultivation and manufacture followed there differ in many ways from those of the other large producing countries, but the industry has been fairly successful throughout its history. Attempts were repeatedly made to introduce tea culture in Ceylon, under both Dutch and British authority. No permanent success was attained till about 1876, when the disastrous effects of the coffee-leaf disease forced planters to give serious attention to tea. Since that period the tea industry has developed with marvellous rapidity, and now takes first rank in the commerce of the island.

Several plantations have been successfully put out both by the Russian government and private enterprise in the Caucasus, but it is doubtful whether they could exist long but for the high rate of duty on tea entering Russia from foreign countries. Natal has now about 5000 acres under tea giving a fairly large yield, but of quality pot highly esteemed outside of South Africa, where it benefits to the extent of 4d. per pound of protection in the tariff. A small plantation exists in South Carolina under circumstances not conducive to financial success on a large scale of production. Attempts at tea growing have been made in the West Indies, Brazil, Australia, Nyassaland, Mauritius, the Straits Settlements, Johore, Fiji and at San Miguel in the Azores without marked success. In addition to favourable conditions of soil and climate, abundant cheap labour is an absolute necessity if satisfactory commercial results are to be obtained.


The tea bush or tree is a member of the natural order Ternstroemiaceae and is closely allied to the well-known ornamental shrub the camellia. As cultivated in China it is an evergreen shrub growing to a height of from 3 to 5 ft. The stem is bushy, with numerous and very leafy branches; the leaves are alternate, leathery in texture, elliptical, obtusely serrated, strongly veined and placed on short channelled footstalks. The flowers are white, axillary and slightly fragrant, - often two or three together on separate pedicels. The calyx is small, smooth and divided into five obtuse sepals. The corolla has from five to nine petals, cohering at the base. The stamens are short, numerous and inserted at the base of the corolla; the anthers are large and yellow, and the long style ends in three branches. The fruit is a woody capsule of three cells, each containing one large nearly spherical seed, which consists mainly of two large hemispherical cotyledons.

As is commonly the case with plants which have been long under cultivation, there has been some doubt as to specific distinctions among the varieties of tea. The plant was originally described by Linnaeus as one species, Thea sinensis. Later Linnaeus established two species, viz. Thea Bohea and Thea viridis, and it was erroneously assumed that the former was the source of black teas, while Thea viridis was held to yield the green varieties. In 1843, however, Mr Robert Fortune found that, although the two varieties of the plant existed in different parts of China, black and green tea were produced from the leaves of the same plant by varying the manufacturing processes.

Sir George Watt (Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society, vol. xxxii.) describes with ample illustrations the recognized varieties, placing all of them under Camellia Thea, with the following subdivision: -
Varieties of tea
A. Variety Viridia: - races:
1. Assam Indigenous.
2. Lushai.
3. Naga Hills.
4. Manipur.
5. Burma and Shan.
6. Yunnan and Chinese.

B. Variety Bohea

C. Variety Stricta

D. Variety Sasiocalyx.

Of the foregoing, the teas of commerce are derived almost entirely from the varieties Viridis and Bohea. The Assam Indigenous, in its two sub-races of Singlo and Bazalona, and the Manipur, originally found wild in the jungles of the native state of that name, have, with various intermixtures and crossings, been used to cover the greatest areas of all the more modern planting in India, Ceylon and Java. The great size of leaf when fully developed (4 to q ins. in length and 2 to 32 in breadth) has made them in demand because of the heavy yields. From the variety Bohea, or from hybrids of descent from it, came the China teas of former days and the earlier plantings in India grown from imported China stock.

Bohea variety

The leaves of this variety are generally, roughly speaking, about half the size of those of the Assam Indigenous and Manipur sorts. The bush is in every way smaller than the Assam types. The latter is a tree attaining in its natural conditions, or where allowed to grow unpruned in a seed garden, a height of from 30 to 40 ft. and prospering in the midst of dense moist jungle and in shady sheltered situations.

Bohea Tea-liaf full size

The Bohea variety is hardy, and capable of thriving under many different conditions of climate and situation, while the indigenous plant is tender and difficult of cultivation, requiring for its success a close, hot, moist and equable climate. In minute structure it presents highly characteristic appearances.

The under side of the young leaf is densely covered with fine one-celled thick-walled hairs, about i mm. in length and o15 mm. in thickness. These hairs entirely disappear with increasing age. The structure of the epidermis of the under side of the leaf, with its contorted cells, is represented (X 160) in fig. 3.

A further characteristic feature of the cellular structure of the tea-leaf is the abundance, especially in grown leaves, of large, branching, thick-walled, smooth cells (idioblasts), which, although they occur in other leaves, are not found in such as are likely to be confounded with or substituted for tea. The minute structure of the leaf in section is illustrated in fig. 4. .

Constant controversy has existed as to what is the actual original home of the tea-plant, and probably no one has given to the subject more careful study than Professor Andreas Krassnow, of Kharkoff University. By order of the Russian government, he visited each of the great tea-growing countries, and the results of his observations were published in a book entitled On the Tea-producing Districts of Asia. He holds the opinion that the tea-plant is indigenous, not to Assam only, but to the whole monsoon region of eastern Asia, where he found it growing wild as far north as the islands of southern Japan. He considers that the tea-plant had, from the remotest times, two distinct varieties, the Assam and Chinese, as he thinks that the period of known cultivation has been too short to produce the differences that exist between them.


What may be termed the chemistry of production, viz., that relating to soils, manures, manufacturing processes, &c., has of recent years received great attention from the scientific FIG. 3. - Epidermis of Tea-leaf (under side): X 160.

experts appointed in India and Ceylon to assist and guide the tea planters.

Bohea variety

The chemistry of the completed teas of commerce does not appear to have been subjected to adequate scientific study. There cannot be said to be any standard or recognized analysis. Many such have been made, and they may be found in chemical text-books of high authority, but they are defective because of the lack of commercial knowledge in association with the chemical skill. More attention seems to have been given to the matter in the United States of America and in Germany and Russia than in England, but the infinite variety of samples known to the commercial expert, and the impossibility of standardizing those in such a manner as to make readily recognizable what the chemist has treated, renders most of the recorded analyses of uncertain value. There seems to be no relationship between the commercial value and the analysis, the arbitrary personal methods of the expert tea-taster being controlled by factors that chemistry does not appear to deal with. One reason may be that analyses are generally made of tea liquors produced by distilled water, which is the very worst possible from the point of view of the commercial expert or in domestic usage.

Section through Tea-leaf

The principal chemical constituents of tea of practical interest are: caffeine, tannin and essential oil, on which depend respectively the physio logical effects, the strength and the flavour. The commercial value appears to depend on the essential oil and aroma, not on the amount of caffeine, tannin or extract.

The following is suggested as a typical analysis sample of black tea:
Table of Chemicals in Black Tea

  • Albuminous matters . . . . . . . . . . 24%
  • Gummy matters . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4%
  • Cellulose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20%
  • Chlorophyll and wax . . . . . . . . . . 2%
  • Caffeine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3%
  • Tannin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10%
  • Essential oil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.75%
  • Resin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3%
  • Mineral matter (ash) . . . . . . . . . 6%
  • Moisture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7%
  • Extractive matter . . . . . . . . . . 20.25%
  • -----------------------------------------------------
  • Total. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100%

Also a trace (0.1 to 0.2 per cent) of boheic acid, a vegetable acid peculiar to tea.

The amount of tannin found in green teas appears to be about half as much again as in black, and the former always yield less moisture, doubtless because of the harder fibre produced by the method of manufacture and the frequent use of a facing medium. A large percentage of moisture found in any sample would indicate improper condition. At the stage of final firing, tea is supposed to be desiccated as completely as possible, and it is then sealed up to exclude air entirely. It is, however, most liable to absorb moisture upon subsequent exposure. Caffeine (formerly known as theme) is the alkaloid of tea, and is identical with that of coffee, guarana, mate and kola nut. It is closely allied to theobromine, the alkaloid of cocoa, and also to uric acid. In large quantities it is a poison, but in smaller quantities it acts as a stimulant. It exists in greater percentage in Indian and Ceylon teas than in those from Java, and is lowest in China and Japan teas. Tannin is a hardening and astringent substance, and in large quantities impairs digestion. Prolonged infusion increases the amount extracted. The essential oil of tea is of a citron yellow colour; it is lighter than water and possesses the distinctive odour of tea. Extract varies from 26 to 40 per cent., and is no guide to quality. Ash averages 5.7 per cent., about half of which is soluble in water. About 8 per cent. of ash is proof of adulteration.


There is probably no article of large consumption the commerce in which has been so revolutionized during a single generation. In 1877, except to the initiated, tea meant China tea., India and Java were producing a little, but practically for use only in Great Britain and Holland. Formosa and Japan were beginning to attract attention in America, but China supplied the world, and almost entirely through the medium of the London market. The days of sailing ships from China had not entirely passed, and the steamers of the period were built for rapidity of transit to London. The Australasian colonies got their supplies direct, and part of the Russian supplies went by the caravan routes.

By 1907, however, the greatly increased production in India and Ceylon, with the willingness of many nations to drink such teas, in preference to those of China, had left to her Russia as a customer for nearly half her export of the article, a proportion rapidly diminishing, as that country too turned in the direction of using the stronger varieties.

China and Japan have hitherto been regarded as the chief producers of tea, and the reputed large domestic consumption of those Mongolian peoples has led to assumptions of vast internal productions. There exist absolutely no data, and it is doubtful whether such can ever be gathered, for forming trustworthy estimates. In both of those countries tea is grown principally in a retail manner, and much of it simply for family consumption. The country cultivator has, as a rule, only a small area - perhaps a corner of his farm or garden - planted with tea, the produce of which is roughly sun-dried and cured in a primitive manner. Any surplus not needed for the family is sold in its sun-dried state to the collector, who takes it to the hong, where it is fired, blended and packed for exportation. Excluding therefore from any record the quantities produced for internal consumption in China and Japan (that from the former alone has been estimated at a total of 2,000,000,000 lb), the following are the acreage and production of the world as taken from the latest recorded statistics available in 1908: -

The quantity from China includes about 16,000,000 lb imported from India, Ceylon and Java, and worked up with China teas into bricks and tablets.

The modern developments of production and consumption have rendered the subject of China tea one of subordinate interest, except China. to students of commercial evolution. In several of the earlier editions of this work very ample details are furnished regarding the same, with malty interesting pictorial illustrations of the processes of production. The conservative tendencies of the Chinese people have prevented them adopting the modern methods of extensive cultivation based on scientific principles, and the manipulation of crops by machinery in place of hand labour. Consequently, their export trade has been for many years a China diminishing one. Of the exported quantity referred to tea. above, only 81,000,000 lb were the ordinary black tea black known to the English consumer (collectively described in the United States of America and Canada as "English Breakfast 1 Areas unascertained. 2 Official figure, but accuracy doubtful.

Tea"). Out of that total, Great Britain consumed only about 5,000,000 Ib, against a consumption of 126,000,000 lb of China tea in 1879. Green tea is represented by 28,000,000 lb, and this went chiefly to the United States of America, to Central Asia and to North Africa. The remainder, 80,000,000 lb, is brick China and tablet tea sent entirely to Asiatic and European green tea, Russia. The method of compressing tea into tablets 8 or bricks is unfamiliar in western Europe. It doubtless arose from the necessity of reducing bulk to a minimum for conveyance by caravan across the great trade routes of Asia, and now B r cks a ad that the railway and the steamship have supplemented tablets. more primitive methods of transit, the system is still continued to meet the wants of the consumer who would not recognize his tea in any other shape. The preparation of the tea in the requisite form has, however, largely left Chinese hands. The Russians have themselves established several important factories at Hankow, which is the chief seat of this industry, and to which place they import in large quantities tea-dust and small broken tea from India, Ceylon and Java. Those are freely used.in the preparation of small tablets, compressed to such a condition of hardness as to resemble wood or stone, and commonly passed round as currency in certain districts of Russia. Of a somewhat different nature is the brick tea prepared chiefly at Ya-chou in Brick t ea the province of Ssu-chuan, for overland transit to Tibet, for Tibet. to investigate the commerce in which Mr James Hutchi son, M.A., was sent in 1906 as a special commissioner for the Indian Tea Cess Committee. This tea is mostly prepared from exceedingly rough leaf, including even bush prunings, which would not be plucked for manufacturing purposes in India or Ceylon. It is "panned," rolled, fermented and divided into various classes or qualities. It is then steamed and placed in a moulding frame of wood to compress it into the size and shape of brick wanted. The bricks are wrapped in paper bearing hong marks, or some writing in Tibetan. For transit they are packed twelve together in hides sewn up while moist, which contract to make a strong tight package of 60 to 70 lb weight. These bales are carried on the backs of coolies for great distances across very high passes into Tibet, and the trade is estimated at an average of 19,000,000 lb per annum, of which 8,000,000 is a subsidy from the emperor of China to the Tibetan monasteries.

The Japanese production is almost entirely green tea for North American use. It is prepared in two distinctive classes named by the final process of manufacture applied in each in Japan. stance, viz. basket-fired, i.e. dried over a hot stove in a basket, and pan-fired, i.e. in machine-made pans. The industry is a declining one, because of change in the American taste, and the area under cultivation has diminished by nearly 20 per cent. in the ten years since 1896. The mulberry leaf for the more profitable silk trade has taken its place. The export production of the island of Formosa is limited to a particular class of tea termed Formosa Oolong, practically all produced for the United States Oolong. rmo of America. It is scarcely known in England save by experts. The Tea Cess Committees of India and Ceylon have both sent representatives in recent years to study the manner of growth and production, but in neither country has there been so far any successful attempt to produce commercially tea of the class. A radical difference exists in connexion with the method of growth, in that the plants are never grown from seed, but are always propagated from layerings. Soil, situation and climatic conditions have doubtless much influence on the peculiar character of the tea produced. The manufacturing methods are elaborate and careful, and the produce has in its choicest qualities a particular delicacy and bouquet possessed by no other variety of tea.

As the planting, productive and manufacturing processes of India may be taken to be generally representative of Indian tea Ceylon and Java also, and therefore of the tea of modern trade. commerce in most lands outside of China and Japan, the methods followed will be described with some fullness.

A rich and exuberant growth of the plants is a first essential of successful tea cultivation. This is only obtainable in warm and moist localities where rains are frequent and copious. Climate. The climate indeed which favours tropical profusion of jungle growth - still steaming heat - is that most favourable for the cultivation of tea, and such climate, unfortunately, is often trying to the health of Europeans. It was formerly supposed that comparatively temperate latitudes and steep sloping ground afforded the most favourable situations for planting, and much of the disaster which attended the early stages of the tea enterprise in India is traceable to this erroneous conception. Tea thrives best in light friable soils of good depth, through which water percolates freely, the plant being specially impatient of marshy situations and stagnant water. Undulating well-watered tracts, where the rain escapes freely, yet without washing away the soil, are the most valuable for tea gardens. Many of the original Indian plantations were established on hill-sides, after the example of known districts in China, where hill slopes and odd corners are commonly occupied with tea-plants.

bearing, 4 to 5 oz. would be considered a good return. The annual

production per acre from matured plants was in 1906 in the prin-

cipal producing districts of India: -

The methods described hereafter are those generally followed in India and Ceylon in the manner of the most modern application, but variations must take place according to district and elevation. Propagation is from seed only. The seed is rather larger than a hazel nut, with a thicker and darker shell and per- Planting fectly spherical shape. When ripe (about the month of out. November) the seeds are placed a few inches apart in carefully prepared nurseries, which are watered, shaded and weeded till the regular rains of May and June admit of the shading being removed. The seedlings should then be 6 ins. to 8 ins. high and ready to plant out in the fields. These are prepared by cutting down and burning the jungle, which is afterwards hoed, lined and staked in parallel rows running both ways. The intervals of planting vary, but 42 ft. by 42 ft. is a very common distance. Pits 15 ins. to 18 ins. deep are dug for each plant, and refilled loosely - then the seedlings are carefully placed in them. With favourable weather they should be 15 ins. to 18 ins. high by the end of the first year. Sometimes the plants are grown in the nursery for a whole year or more and put out during the cold weather. After two years' growth the bushes should be 4 to 6 ft. high. They are then cut down to about 8 ins. and are allowed to grow again up to 2 or 3 ft. before, towards the end of their third year, being plucked regularly. The object of this cutting down is to cause the bushes to spread out and cover the ground area usually allowed to each plant, i.e. about 20 sq. ft. The yield in the third year is small, probably less than oz. finished tea per bush. At 7 to 10 years old, when in full Individual estates of large area gave as much as 1280 lb per acre. In Ceylon the average yield per acre was 440 Ib, but there are verified records of 996 lb per acre within the year from an estate of 458 acres. On the same property an area of loo acres gave 1100 lb per acre on the average over a period of 18 years.

Cultivation in the northern parts of India is done by digging over the soil - locally termed hoeing - once in the winter quarter and Cultiva- six times in the nine months of the harvesting season.

Cul t i To keep an estate clean and in good cultivation it re quires to be gone over every six weeks. The labourers being barefooted, a spade is useless, so a "khodalee" or hoe (much like a very heavy and long-bladed garden Dutch hoe) is used. It is raised well over the head and dropped forcibly into the ground, then pulled towards the wielder to turn over the soil. In southern India and Ceylon clean hand-weeding is the method of cultivation, almost no hoeing being done. In northern India the plucking season begins in April. During the first flush (i.e. the breaking out of young green shoots after pruning and the rest of winter) the bush is encouraged to grow by leaving 3 or 4 fully developed leaves after removing the cip of the shoot. It takes about 6 weeks to remove entirely the whole of the first and succeeding flushes, going round the estate once a week. In the second flush two leaves only are left. In the third and fourth flushes only one large leaf, and after that - say during October, November and part of December - no soft leaf growth is left that can be harvested in good order. In northern India, where the weather in the winter months is cold and dry, growth practically ceases, and then the whole area is pruned and cut down to about 16 ins. high all over, but in Travancore and Ceylon it grows continuously and is only pruned when found expedient at intervals of 15 months to 2 years. In certain cases of highlying estates, where the growth is slow, it is allowed to run 3 years from pruning. The finest teas are produced at high elevations in Darjeeling and Ceylon and in the plains of Assam, but the quality from individual estates varies much from season to season, and even from week to week. There are at times marked differences between the produce of adjoining estates, with apparently identical conditions of soil and situation. Tea grows and thrives from about sea-level in the tropics to 7000 ft. in more temperate conditions. The life of a well-cared-for bush has been estimated at 50 years, in spite of its numerous enemies. Those include mites, termites (or white ants), thread blight, grey blight, caterpillars (naked or in bags) and caterpillars armed with stinging hairs to protect them, and borers, red and black, some of which eat the core out of the wood, while others content themselves with eating only the bark.

During recent years in India a new development has taken place in planting tea upon what are termed "bheels," - lands resembling to a great extent the peat bogs of Ireland and Scotland. When opened up by an elaborate and complete system of drainage, they have been found to possess the power of producing enormously heavy yields, and it is from such estates that the greatest yields in India have come.

In Ceylon, and to some extent in India, the careful and systematic application of chemical manures, compounded on scientific lines, has been found to increase largely the yield of leaf, and much interplanting of nitrogen-producing growths has been done with a view to restoring to the soil the most necessary constituents.

In the early days an attempt was made to copy the Chinese methods, and the various processes were manual. Now, from the. plucking stage onwards, almost everything is done by machinery. During the season of yield the flushes are tore. plucked every 7 to 10 days, and, as a rule, in India the opening bud and two leaves below it are plucked. To take more than this would he considered coarse and less would be fine plucking. These are of course quite immature, the longest rarely being one inch in length. The lower leaves on the young shoots are too old and hard to manufacture into tea. The plucking is done by women and children, and is now practically the only part of the work where the tea is touched by hand. The plucking season continues in some districts of India till December. As they are plucked, the green leaves are thrown into baskets, and twice daily the pluckings are taken into the factory. They are then spread out thinly on trays or racks made of bamboo, canvas or wire netting, under cover, for some 18 or 30 hours (according to the temporary weather conditions) to wither, after which they are in a soft, flaccid condition ready for rolling. On a successful wither the amount of the tea ferment or enzyme is dependent. The object of rolling is to crush the leaves and to break their cells so as to liberate the juices. The leaves are passed repeatedly through a machine driven by steam or other power giving a rotary motion, the operation occupying about 40 to 60 minutes. The next process is familiarly termed fermentation, but is really an oxidation of the leaves. Should the leaf be intended to be cured as green tea, the fermenting process is omitted and some other processes applied, but in India very little green tea is manufactured. Many people still Cherish the antiquated belief that black and green teas are grown upon different varieties of the tea-plant, which is quite a mistake, the difference being merely one of preparation. After being rolled, the leaves are spread out in layers of I to 2 ins. thick in a cool house, and left to undergo the chemical action resulting from their condition. This process is checked after from 2 to 3 hours, according to climatic conditions. A further brief rolling to close up the open leaves is followed by the first firing, which is effected by subjecting the leaves to the gradual action of hot air up to a temperature of 240° F. Various applications of the same system are in use, but the most popular is to place the leaves on trays of wire network in a high temperature for about twenty minutes, after which they are firm and crisp. Up to this point of the manufacture the leaf has been in the stalk, the leaves and bud being unseparated. They are now broken apart and sorted by mechanical sifters into the various grades or qualities, which are described as Orange Pekoe, Pekoe, Pekoe Souchong and Souchong, each of which names represents approximately the leaf-bud and the three lower leaves. In addition to these four classes, out of each are sifted all the smaller fragments of leaf broken in the process of manufacture, which are termed Broken Orange Pekoe, &c. These broken grades are frequently objected to by the consumer, under the impression that they are inferior in quality, but in the opinion of experts, the more the leaf is broken up, the better is the liquor upon infusion. Upon completion of the sifting, the tea is again fired, and while warm it is packed tightly into lead-lined chests, and the lead covers completely soldered over it, so that it may be kept perfectly air-tight until required for use.

The machinery in use is very varied in character, and it has been evolved principally by practical planters of a mechanical turn. Many estate superintendents have begun their careers Machinery. as engineers, and it is not unusual for a large estate, or group of estates, to have one member of the European staff who is a qualified engineer. The motive power is generally a steam engine, but the greater economy and facility of oil engines have led to their fairly wide adoption. Where water power is available, turbines of a variety of types are in use. The machines to be driven are airfans, rollers, roll-breakers, sifters, cutters and packers, and there are besides numerous types of driers or desiccators. The names associated with the most successful and widely used machines are those of the Messrs Jackson (makers, Marshalls of Gainsborough) and Mr S. C. Davidson, of the Sirocco Works, Belfast. The production of the empty boxes for packing, called chests or half-chests, is in itself a large industry. The heavy old-fashioned country-made packages are rapidly being replaced by light-tared Boxes made from several thicknesses of veneer pressed closely together, most of which come from Russia.

A production temporarily in excess of the world's demand of several years ago, led to the offering of bonuses for the production in India and Ceylon of green teas, with a view to lessening the black tea output. The methods adopted were successful, and Green tea. after some vicissitudes a satisfactory business has been established, especially with the United States of America and Canada. The methods of producing this tea are not so complicated as those followed in China and Japan. The principal difference from the manner described of making black tea lies in the omission of the withering and fermenting, and the substitution for those of a steaming or panning process. The effect of either is to destroy the possibility of fermentation by subjecting the leaf, as soon as it is plucked, to a brief period of great heat. This completely destroys the ferment or enzyme, and renders it possible to conserve the tea in what is really nearer its natural form than the black tea that is so well known to the consumer.

Tea Consumption.-The following table gives particulars relative to the principal consuming countries, from which it will be seen that Great Britain and its English-speaking dependencies are the great consumers: Tea Consumption of Chief Consuming Countries in 1906.


per Annum.

Rate per


of Popu-


Rate of Duty

per lb.


United Kingdom.. .







Certain kinds free

for Asiatic Rus-

sia or over

Asiatic frontier

-others 24d.

to Is. 114d.

United States of America




Dominion of Canada. .



Commonwealth of Aus-




Dominion of NewZealand






(If British grown)





9d. (surtax 21d. if

not direct im-






South Africa



4d(Natal tea free)

Argentine Republic. .






131 lb

High,but uncertain.

India (estimated)




Burma (average about) .



Persia (average about) .



41d. to 7d.


China Unknown Japan The countries of smallerconsumption absorbed about 25,000,000 lb but there is a considerable excess in the returns of production over those of consumption. This arises partly from the latter, relating in certain instances to an earlier period, and partly from the fact 48?

Peru 65%% ad val. and Io%.

Portugal 2s. old.

Rumania 31d. and 41d. excise.

Sierra Leone. 10% ad val.

Spain 62d. (if tran - shipped in a European port Is. 71d. cwt. additional) .

St Helena. Free.

Straits Settle ments Free.

Sweden 3d.

Switzerland In receptacles weighing less than 5 kilos.

1 4d. over I - I od. Tobago and Trinidad 6d.

Turkey 11%.%.

Uganda Io %.

Uruguay 54d.

Venezuela 6d.

The rate per head of population within the United Kingdom has not increased much during recent years, and in the Australasian colonies it has apparently fallen greatly as compared with recorded averages of 12 lb per head in Victoria and 9 lb in New South Wales in 1884. ' The modern statistics of the commonwealth may be more accurately kept, and there may be less waste in use, but it is not supposed that there is any diminution in the free use of the beverage which has always characterized the antipodean colonist. One important factor in keeping down the amount per person is the substitution in use, which for a generation has been in progress, of the stronger teas of India and Ceylon for the old-fashioned weaker produce of China.
Prices and Import Duty The progressive increase in the consumption of tea in Great Britain and Ireland during 50 years from 1836 to 1886 is shown in the table below. The dotted line represents the average monthly consumption in each year; the fluctuations in price of good sound China congou are traced by the black line; and the years in which reduced customs duty came into operation are indicated along the base. From 1860 onwards, the amount of Indian tea entered for home consumption is shown in monthly average by a black column. This column brings out the remarkable fact that the Indian tea alone consumed in 1886 equalled the consumption of all kinds in 1860, and was double the quantity of all kinds in 1836. The table, however, shows merely the general development of consumption.

Bulgaria 44d. plus 44d. ex - cise and octroi I id.

Chile 9d.

Cyprus 4d.

Denmark .. 4d.

Ecuador 22d.

Egypt 8% ad val.

Fiji 6d.

Gibraltar.. Free.

Greece I id.

Grenada 6d.

Honduras 22d.

Italy 'id.

Jamaica IS.

Lagos 1 d.

Malta Free.

Mauritius 3d.

Mexico 6d. .

Morocco 10% ad val. Newfoundland 33% ad val.

Nigeria rod.

Norway Is.

U O N d ? ? 0 ?





a N




v- c°

¦ FIG. 5.

that much of the yield of 1906 was afloat or undespatched at the close of that year.

The following table gives the approximate rates of duty per English lb during 1907 in places not referred to above:- Austria and91d. imported by Belgium Free.

Hungary ? sea, by land IId. Bermuda 64% ad val.

Bahamas 6d. Brazil 50% ad val.

Barbados 3d. and 20% ad British E.

val. Africa 10% ad val.

sumption, but a similar one on next page, bringing the figures up to 1907, shows the gradual and almost total displacement of China tea by that grown in the English dependencies. In both, the price fluctuations and fiscal changes are shown that their effect upon consumption may be judged. The prices below are the annual averages for all Indian teas sold in the London public auction market during the years stated. Lowness of price has not been the only factor in increasing the rate of consumption. The lean years and the fat years of the general labour market always tell, and the low range 127¦??r??1: !1??1. ' ! 1 3 2 of prices for sugar during recent times has undoubtedly assisted in increasing the amount available for expenditure on tea. In Russia tea costs more to the consumer than in any country where modern transit by railway and steamer exists. The reason is the enormous proportion of the retail selling price which is exacted by the government by way of duty. But in return the government, with a paternal care for its people, makes absolutely certain that the tea reaches their hands as pure and unadulterated as when it first entered the country. Russian tea has always had a high reputation - largely a sentimental one, however. The quantity taken by the country is very large, but when spread over the enormous population the rate of consumption per person is not great. The extreme poverty of the great body of the people and the high price doubtless explain this. The method of use differs much from that followed in England. The samovar, or urn for boiling the water, is always much in evidence. Tea that makes a dark, strong liquor is preferred - not that such liquor is used, but that the greatest possible quantity of tea-coloured water may be drained from the teapot by refilling it over and over again from the samovar. The tea is generally drunk from glasses and while very hot, with a liberal addition of sugar and a flavouring of lemon. The method of use is Indian Tea Ceylon Tea China Tea ° wvwy Jaua. Tea ------- FIG. 6. - Diagram showing the alterations in the relative proportions of different growths of tea consumed during the 21 years ended the 31st of December 1907; the variations in the London average prices for Indian teas, and the changes in the English rate of duty. Vertical lines show the average monthly consumption in Great Britain and Ireland in millions of pounds. The diagonal line shows the average price per lb of all Indian tea sold in the London public auctions.

probably a more healthy one than that followed in many parts of the United Kingdom, where strong infusions of powerful teas are indulged in too frequently.

The United States of America and the great colonial dependencies follow generally the English way of using the beverage.

France, considering that it is England's nearest neighbour, has a remarkably small tea consumption: 06 lb per person per annum, or about i hth only of the English rate. The increase in consumption there has been so small that it probably arises mainly from the increasing number of English and English-colonial visitors that spend portions of each year in the country.

Germany, and the Germanic peoples, take slightly more per person, but the statistics are rather indefinite. Holland, in Europe, comes next to England, and uses principally the product of her dependency Java. The other nations of Europe are very small consumers. Some of the peoples of eastern Europe take their tea with an admixture of rum. In Morocco and generally throughout North Africa there is a considerable demand for green tea, which is drunk hot out of glasses, the liquor being almost saturated with sugar and strongly flavoured with mint.

In China and Japan tea is generally drunk without any other qualifying or flavouring addition. Exceedingly delicate teas can therefore be used unimpaired. In Japan the ceremony of serving tea has, among the better classes, been raised to a high art, which the girls have to study at school for protracted periods.

In Mongolia and other parts of Central Asia tea is made into a kind of soup, somewhat on the lines of the following written regarding tea in Tibet by Colonel Waddell in his book Lhasa and its Mysteries. Writing of the Tibetan he states: "As a beverage he drinks, all day long, cupfuls of, hot buttered tea, which is really a soup or broth made by boiling tea-leaves with rancid butter and balls of dough, and adding a little salt, and straining - a decoction which was invariably nasty to our taste, though no doubt it is wholesome; for it is not merely a stimulating hot drink in the cold, but overcomes the danger of drinking unboiled water in a country where the water supply is dangerously polluted." Geography of Tea. - The successful commercial production of tea on a large scale is confined to a strictly limited area enclosed by about 40° of latitude (5° S. to 35° N.) and about 73° of longitude (67° to 140° E.), while the consumption shows itself to a large extent to have strictly geographical limitations. The southern hemisphere ranks lightly in the matter of consumption, the only other country worth mentioning there besides the Australasian and Cape dependencies being Argentina. A straight line of latitude runs through all of these. In the northern hemisphere (excluding the races who consume their own produce) the material consumption of tea is in regions lying 40° N. and above it, but here there is an interesting subdivision to be made. In the United States of America and Canada, in some portions of Europe and of Asia, and along the north of Africa, there is a free use made of green or unfermented teas with pale, pungent infusions. The demand for such, as a general rule, lies principally in lower latitudes, while the farther north the consumer lives he seems to require more of the black or fermented tea of India, Ceylon or China, with the dark, thick, heavy liquor its infusion produces.


In the early part of the 19th century the tea shipped to England was destined to supply many countries, as London was then, and until comparatively recent times, the common warehouse and central market for the world, and England the common carrier. Throughout that century fairly steady and rapid progress was shown - especially in its earlier periods - in the trade from China, which reached its maximum in 1879. And it is here that some of the romance of commerce comes in. As the trade grew in importance, the advantages of rapid transit for the tea of new season's production began to be appreciated, and the slow and stately progress of the old East Indiaman became out of date. A type of vessel, specially designed for the rapid carrying of tea from China to England via the Cape of Good Hope, was introduced, known as the "China Clipper," and the competition was always keen as to which ship should make the most rapid passage. This culminated in the year 1866, when nine ships sailed almost simultaneously from Foochow, three of them crossing the bar in company. These three were all built by the same builders in. Greenock, and came in ahead of all the others, making the long voyage of fully 16,000 m. in 99 days. They each docked in a separate dock in London upon the same day, and all within two hours of each other. The two leading ships had not seen each other for 70 days and met off the Lizard, from which point they ran a neck-and-neck race before a strong westerly wind, with every rag of canvas set.

The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 soon changed the course of all trade with the East, and in a few years the sending of tea per sailing ship round the Cape of Good Hope was a thing of the past. Romance was no more, although there was extreme competition in building steamers with great power and speed to land their cargoes rapidly by the new route. This reached its height in 1882, when the s.s. "Stirling Castle" made the phenomenal run, for those times, of 28 days from Woosung to London.

But England, which formerly supplied almost everything to her own colonies and to many foreign countries besides, has, under the modified conditions of abundant steam tonnage everywhere, become less and less of a distributive country. Consequently, direct shipments are made now from the countries of production to those of consumption. America gets its tea largely through its western seaboard from China, Japan, Ceylon and India, while not a little is reaching it of recent years by steamers running direct from those countries via the Suez Canal to New York. The Australian demand is fed by steamers from Calcutta and Colombo, with some additions direct from China and Java.

The extensive Russian trade is now largely conducted over the Siberian railroad, and this, next to the transit to London, represents the largest volume of tea traffic passing in one channel. This route has displaced much of the protracted caravan business through Manchuria and Mongolia. A most interesting and adventurous episode in connexion with Russian trade was the effort repeated over several successive years by the late Captain Wiggins to convey tea entirely by sea from Chinese ports around the North Cape and through the Kara Sea to the Obi and Yenisei rivers. When successful, the journey, although about seven times the mileage of the old direct caravan route, took four months instead of eighteen, and was of course much less expensive.

The only protracted camel or mule caravan journeys remaining in connexion with the tea trade are those in Persia and Morocco, where the conservatism of race delays the introduction of even wheel roads, not to mention railways.



8 °

1 I -1111 I ' 24 a 4 4° 60 s° Tea Adulteration. - In the earlier days of the tea trade, adulteration, especially prior to importation, was frequent, because the prices obtainable made it remunerative. Now, intentional adulteration is practically non-existent, chiefly because of the fact that in the places of production the price obtainable is so low that any possible adulterant would be too costly to collect. Most countries have a close check upon this at the time of importation, and the customs authorities in Great Britain submit to analysis all samples of a doubtful character. Impure teas are not permitted to pass into consumption, but the quantity condemned after analysis as unfit for food in the year 1906 was 41 packages, out of a total of 317,000,000 lb.

Effect on Health

The effect of the use of tea upon health has been much discussed. In the days when China green teas were more used than now, the risks to a professional tea-taster were serious, because of the objectionable facing materials so often used. In the modern days of machine-made black tea, produced under British supervision, both the tea-taster and the ordinary consumer have to deal with a product which, if carefully converted into a beverage and used in moderation, should be harmless to all normal human beings. There has been constant controversy as to whether China tea is better than that of other growths, but the verdict first of all of Great Britain, and subsequently of all the other large consuming countries, has relegated the produce of the Celestial Empire to a very subordinate position. A limited section of medical opinion has recommended China tea for reasons of health, and undoubtedly the inferior strength it possesses reduces the risk arising from improper use, but it also reduces the stimulating and comforting effects the ordinary tea-drinker hopes to experience. Next to water, tea is the beverage most widely in use throughout the world as regards the number of its votaries as well as the total liquid quantity consumed.


The statistics given are taken as far as possible from official returns, and where such are unavailable they have been carefully compiled from reliable data.

The literature of tea is very copious, but scattered in pamphlet form to a great extent. In addition to the books quoted in the text, the following may be mentioned: - Bontekoe, Tractat van het excellenste Kruyd Thee (The Hague, 1679); Sylvestre Dufour, Traites Nouveaux et Curieux du Café, du The, et du Chocolat (2nd ed., Lyons, 1688; translation of 1st edition by John Chamberlayne, London, 1685; translations also in Spanish and Latin); J. G. Houssaye, Monographie du The (Paris, 1843); Robert Fortune, Three Years' Wanderings in China (London, 1847); Id., A Journey to the Tea Countries of China (London, 1852); S. Ball, Tea Cultivation in China (London, 1848); J. J. L. L. Jacobson, Handboek voor de Kultuur en Fabrikatie van Thee (3 vols., 1843); S. A. Schwarzkopf, Dienarkotischen Genussmittel - i. Der Thee (Halle, 1881); Lieut.-Colonel E. Money, Cultivation and Manufacture of Tea (3rd ed., London, 1878); F. T. R. Deas, Young Tea Planter's Companion (London, 1886). See also parliamentary papers and official publications of Indian government; Monographs on brick tea, Formosa tea and other special studies, prepared for the Tea Cess Committees of India and Ceylon; Journals of the Royal Asiatic Society, Journal of the Society of Arts, Geographical Journal, Tea and Coffee Trade Journal (New York), &c. For practical planting details, see Tea; its Cultivation and Manufacture, by David Crole (1897), with a full bibliography; also Rutherford's Planter's Handbook. For scientific aspects see Chemistry and Agriculture of Tea, by M. Kelway Bamber (1893). (J. McE.)

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