Afternoon tea: The Taste of England

Si las costumbres gastronómicas representan a un país, Inglaterra está representada por el té y su ceremonia, el Afternoon tea. Pero este sello de identidad es una tradición importada.

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When people think of tea, they think of England. Of Earl Grey and English Breakfast. The drink is an essential part of British culture. It is everywhere: afternoon tea, tea towels, tea gardens, tea-time and tea breaks. George Orwell invented eleven rules to make the perfect cup of tea. He called the drink “one of the bases of civilization.” British people drink sixty billion cups of tea a year – 165 million cups a day.

CHINESE ORIGINS

Tea drinking began almost five thousand years ago in China. The story is that the emperor Shen Nung was sitting in his garden one day in 2737 BC, when a tea leaf fell into his cup of hot water. Tea arrived in continental Europe with Portuguese missionaries in the mid 16th century. It reached England one hundred years later in London’s coffee houses! Tea importers said the drink made “the body active and lusty.” Afternoon tea, the meal of tea and cakes, appeared at the beginning of the 18th century. A hungry Duchess of Bedford wanted something to fill the space between lunch and dinner.

SILK TEA BAGS

Tea has changed in other ways too, some accidentally. At the beginning of the 20th century, a New York tea merchant decided to put his tea samples in small silk bags. Instead of opening the bags to taste the tea, his customers put them directly into hot water. And that’s how tea bags were invented!

TEA ON THE ROCKS

Iced tea began to appear, with limited success, in the USA in the 1860s. The heat was terrible in the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904. No one wanted to drink hot tea. One desperate tea merchant put ice in all his tea. The queues were enormous. Now eighty-five per cent of tea in the States is served over ice!

It’s Tea O’Clock! Tipos de té

Tipos de té

El gigantesto mercado del té en el Reino Unido está dominado por algunas grandes marcas. Pero más allá del té negro más habitual, existen infinidad de variedades y mezclas, y no menos formas de prepararlo.

  1. Earl Grey Tea
    The most popular scented tea in the country. No one knows the origin of the name. It was possibly a gift from a Chinese woman or a Chinese envoy to Charles Grey, Prime Minister in the 1830s.

  2. Darjeeling
    A light-coloured tea with a mild, floral aroma. The tea grows in a very small area in the Darjeeling district in Bengal, India. Highly prized, it is known as the ‘champagne of teas’.

  3. Breakfast Tea
    A blend of black teas from Assam, Sri Lanka and Kenya. It is full-bodied, with a rich flavour and strong aroma. Usually mixed with milk and sugar, it is the perfect accompaniment to the traditional English breakfast.

  4. Green Tea
    An infusion of minimally-processed tealeaves. The leaves go through less oxidation, and the tea has a mild, refreshing flavour and a light green colour. Some teas have a grassy flavour while others are smoky.

  5. Oolong Tea
    The tea leaves are left to wither under a strong sun, producing oxidation. Sometimes they receive an additional shaking or bruising to release extra flavours. In Britain, the tea is often blended with milk and honey to complement the strong flavours.

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