Wednesday, June 07, 2006

"We have already given, in our collections, one of the letters, in which Mr. Hanway endeavours to show, that the consumption of tea is injurious to the interest of our country. We shall now endeavour to follow him, regularly, through all his observations on this modern luxury; but, it can scarcely be candid not to make a previous declaration, that he is to expect little justice from the author of this extract, a hardened and shameless tea-drinker, who has, for twenty years, diluted his meals with only the infusion of this fascinating plant; whose kettle has scarcely time to cool; who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces the midnight, and, with tea, welcomes the morning."

Excerpt from Samuel Johnson's Review of Hanway's Journal of Eight Days Journey

And its not any old tea Hanway's worried about - it is Green Tea. It came as a bit of a surprise to me that for the first 100 years or so your English cuppa was made from Green Tea and was served without milk.

I had been under the impression that the tea plant was indigenous to both China and India and the Brits came to drink it as a result of the colonisation of India. In Victorian times when it arrived in England people even used it for
sandwiches they were so ignorant of its proper use. I was completely wrong. People certainly knew what to do with a tea leaf long before Queen Vic. Maybe I wasn't paying sufficient attention in my History lesson. Or maybe the problem was that I was paying attention in the lesson but my teacher was rubbish and I have carried his rubbish around for the last 33 years.

Tea is such an interesting subject. Stay awake at the back there. If you have the time do read a bit more of Johnson's

I like the whole health scare thing and the way Hanway's got everything arse about face. He was right about gin but I just love the use of the stats here:

I am now informed, that in certain hospitals, where the number of the sick used to be about 5600 in 14 years,

From 1704 to 1718, they increased to 8189;
From 1718 to 1734, still augmented to 12,710;
And from 1734 to 1749, multiplied to 38,147.

"What a dreadful spectre does this exhibit!

My dear Hanway.... What hospitals pray tell again? Certain ones?...Oh I see ...certain ones.

Though I doubt Green Tea in either its Original or Plus forms is a magic cure for anything I do think its a bit daft to liken it to gin as Hanway does.

I'm off to have a medicinal/non-medicinal Greeny right now to fight against this flu thing. I'll then snuggle up with a copy of the Review.

No comments: