The Vanilla Chef Tea Guide

The Tea Guide

Welcome to the Vanilla Chef Tea Guide where you will learn everything you need to know about tea! Vanilla Chef are specialists in all things tea and we wanted to provide a guide for anyone who is looking to learn more about what it is and how it can benefit your life!

If you are asking these questions, this article will answer your questions:

  • What is tea?
  • Where does tea come from?
  • What are the benefits of tea?
  • Are there different types of tea?
  • Where can I get tea?

So sit back, make yourself a hot tasty beverage – we suggest a tea (obviously!) and let your brain soak up everything you want to know about tea!  

What is Tea?

Now we are pretty sure that you have heard of tea, it is the second most consumed beverage in the world and only second to water! But you may be asking; what is tea? Where does it come from?

Tea is a hot beverage traditionally made by brewing the dried leaves of the Camellia Senensis plant in hot water. People are often surprised to find out that all forms of tea i.e. black tea, green tea, white tea and oolong tea are all made from the same plant. It is the way the tea leaves are processed that determines the colour of the tea.

The tea shrub (Camellia Senensis) can now be found growing all over the world due to its popularity, however it is a plant that grows native to wide areas of Asia. Anything which is derived from the tea shrub can be classed as “Tea”, whilst other forms of tea include “Herbal Tea” and “Tisane Tea”, which are hot beverages brewed with flowers and other plants.

Now we know a little bit more about what tea is and where it comes from, let’s delve a little deeper in to the history of tea.

Brief History of Tea:

Take yourself back to China, the Shang Dynasty. A completely different world to today but you could still get a good cuppa! Although tea was believed to be used in China prior to this, one of the first credible records of tea being used was when it was mentioned in a medical text of Hua Tuo, a 3rd Century Chinese Physician who is also believed to be the first person in China to have used anaesthesia during surgery.

Although tea is considered quintessentially British, it was adopted as China’s national drink under the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD). Its popularity in Europe was slow to begin with and it wasn’t until the Dutch established a trading post on the island of Java in 1606 that the first commercial consignment of tea was sent from China to Holland. Tea became a fashionable drink among the Dutch who we’re early adopters of the drink and from here it quickly spread throughout Europe, however due to its hefty price it remained a drink that was only afforded by the rich and elite.

One of the first recorded mentions of tea in Britain was an advert in the London newspaper, Mercurius Politicus, announcing that a ‘China Drink’ was available in a coffee house in Sweeting’s Rents in the City of London. Remaining somewhat obscured from the everyday person in Britain, it was the marriage of Charles 2nd to Catharine of Braganza that sparked Britain’s curiosity and interest in tea. Catharine’s love of tea infused with the people around her and tea became a fashionable beverage in the Royal Court and quickly spread to the wealthy and elite. From here the East India Company capitalized on this opportunity and began supplying tea to Britain, importing their first 100lbs of tea from the island of Java in 1664.

In 1692 Louis 14th granted Sir Damame the exclusive privilege to sell tea in France. This is the start of a wonderful story of a company still in operation today and our featured tea brand - Dammann Freres. You can learn more about their history to understand why we choose to feature their amazing products.

Fast-forward to December 16th 1773, when the now infamous Boston Tea Party occurred – a political and economic protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston and Massachusetts, in defiance of the Tea Act May 10th 1773 which allowed the British Tea Company British East India Trading Company to trade freely without being taxed in US colonies. A turbulent time for tea!

Now we know a bit more about where tea came from and how spread throughout the world, let’s take a look at tea in today’s society.

Tea in Today’s Society:

What does the world of tea look like in today’s society? Well, pretty much as you’d expect, it looks like tea! But like most things from the past, we have found a way in integrate it in to our own culture and enhance our own experience with tea.

Just to give you an idea of how popular tea is today in the UK, it is estimated that 165 million cups of tea are drunk in the UK, every day! That is an insane amount of tea and the reason we have made this guide. The everyday tea drinker probably hasn’t tried many other flavours than the standard breakfast tea and they are seriously missing out!

With places like The Ritz in London leading the charge with their elegant and quirky take on the British classic afternoon tea, there has been a resurgence in the theatre and spectacle associated with tea.

Loose Leaf Tea has been steadily growing in popularity and is a great way to enhance your tea experience as a business. Enabling you to add to the performance and involved the consumer in the experience, all businesses serving tea should consider adding a Loose Leaf range to their offering.