Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tea Facts to Amaze Your Friends


Tata Tea, photographed in Calcutta.
The Top Seven Tea Consuming Nations are:  1. China, 2. India, 3. Russian Federation, 4. Turkey, 5. Japan, 6. United Kingdom, 7. United States.

The United States imports nearly 40% of its black tea from Argentina.  This is low-cost, machine-harvested tea used in iced teas, tea mixes, and powdered teas. 

The United States imported nearly twice as much green tea in 2009 in comparison to 2002. This trend will continue as the health benefits of green tea become more widely-known.

The value of tea sales in the United States in 2009 was $7.3 billion. The forecast for 2014 is $15 billion!

Iced Tea was not invented in St. Louis. One of the most reported iced tea origin stories was a result of the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair when tea vendor Richard Blechynden  became weary of selling his cups of hot tea in the summer heat.  In an attempt to boost sales, he served tea in glasses packed with plenty of ice. This cool refreshing beverage was a hit with fair-goers who then popularized iced tea throughout the United States. (By the way, the proper name is iced tea rather than ice tea.) 

This story may be true, but it is not the first recorded incidence of tea being served with ice in the US. Here in my native Kentucky, iced tea recipes appeared in cookbooks prior to the Civil War. As a matter of fact, our 1842 home had a stone ice-house where winter ice, gathered from our nearby Chaplin River, was stored until the hot days of July and August. The ice was shaved and used to make ice cream, or put in a glass for iced tea or an occasional mint julep.
 
There is another interesting tea-related story associated with the 1904 Fair. The director of the Louvre fell ill and could not fulfill his speaking commitment in the Hall of Arts.  A last minute replacement was brought in from Boston, the new Japanese director of the Asian Arts Department at the Museum of Fine Arts named Okakura Kakuzo. Dressed in formal kimono, he spoke in perfect English as he delivered an address titled “Modern Problems in Painting” to a packed auditorium. He discussed the problems Japan was facing in order to preserve traditional art in modern times. Portions of his lecture appeared in his classic 1906 work, The Book of Tea.