"Pray thee, let it serve for table-talk."—Merchant of Venice.
cup of tea!" Is there a phrase in our language more eloquently
significant of physical and mental refreshment, more expressive of
remission of toil and restful relaxation, or so rich in associations
with the comforts and serenity of home life, and also with
unpretentious, informal, social intercourse?
If rank in the
scale of importance of any material thing is to be determined by its
extensive and continued influence for good, to tea must be conceded a
very elevated position among those agencies which have contributed to
man's happiness and well-being.
Most remarkable changes have
occurred in the production of tea during the past century. About
sixty years ago all the tea consumed on the globe was grown in China
and Japan. Our knowledge of the growth and manufacture of tea was
then of an uncertain and confused character, and no European had ever
taken an active part in the production of a pound of tea. To-day,
about one-half of the tea consumed in the world is grown and
manufactured upon English territory, on plantations owned and
superintended by Englishmen, who have thoroughly mastered every detail
of the art, while nearly all the tea drank in Great Britain is English
grown. Twenty years ago, the suggestion that tea might yet be
grown upon a commercial scale in the United States was received with
derision by the Press and its readers; but one tea estate in South
Carolina has during the past year grown, manufactured, and sold at a
profit, several thousand of the tea of good quality, which brought a
price equal to that of foreign fine teas.
A natural taste for
hot liquid foods and drinks is common to all races of men, and they may
be traced in the soups of meat and fish, and in their decoctions or
infusions of vegetable leaves, seeds, barks, etc.