17 October, 2021       LISBON - MAX. Partly sunnyº, MIN. 03º

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Folders  |  Cup of Tea?
Cup of Tea?
Javhlan Byamba-Hughes
Cup of Tea?
Cup of Tea?

In historical documents tea was first mentioned around 2700 BC.  The story goes that when the emperor of China, Shen Nung, was sitting under a tree, some leaves blew into his boiling water.  He was fascinated by the result and for centuries since tea has been drunk as a healthy drink.

Before the Mongol invasion in the 12th century, Chinese aristocrats and wealthy took pleasure in drinking very expensive tea.  Soon after, because Mongolians were not real tea drinkers (though they now cannot live without their salty tea), the custom spread amongst the population and millions of ordinary Chinese people enjoyed sipping their teas.  From this moment tea took a couple of centuries to reach Europe.

Tea is a very popular drink all around the world, loved by billions but until comparatively recently only a handful of countries in Asia such as China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka grew different types of tea.  Many types of tea are produced: green tea, Sencha, ginseng, Assam, Ceylon… Darjeeling tea known as the “Champagne of tea” is grown in India, in the Himalayan valleys. A few African countries - Kenya, Malawi, and Zimbabwe - joined the list of tea producing regions at the beginning of the 20th century.  Now a small number of Latin American countries produce tea too.  

It is possible to say that the western world’s tea drinking habit started when Portuguese Jesuit Father Jasper de Cruz introduced tea to Europe in 1560.  The Father had spent several years in China enjoying the drink that had been unknown to the west.

In the early 1500s the Portuguese sea navigation system was one of the best in the world, and they discovered a route to Asia.  The Portuguese main port was in Macau and so, when tea spread to the west, they had full control of the tea export.  Unfortunately, this source of riches did not last long because of other countries’ colonial ambitions.

Modern-day British cannot live without their “cuppa” and their culture around tea and tea drinking is vast.  It all started when in 1662 the English king Charles II married to the Portuguese Catherine of Braganza.  As soon as she landed on English soil the Princess asked for a cup of tea but her new hosts did not understand.  She took some from her luggage and soon the high court of the English society was introduced to teas.  For many years only the elite circles of English society enjoyed the very expensive fashion of tea drinking.  This soon became one of the principal events in society.

In the 18th century, tea plants were brought from Portuguese Macau to the Azores Islands, and two Chinese men arrived to develop oriental techniques to produce black and green teas.  At the beginning only ten kilos of black and eight kilos of green tea were produced, but that was enough to supply wealthy tea lovers.  

Since then the Gorreana Tea plantation has been in S.Miguel Island in Azores and it is the only suitable place in Europe to grow tea, making Portugal the only European tea producing country.  23 hectares of plantation produces about 40 tonnes of dry tea. Local people enjoy their cups of tea even though coffee is so much more popular on the mainland.  

Most of the black and green tea is consumed locally.   A small amount is exported to the USA, Canada and Germany as a health drink because the tea plantation uses no chemicals.  Some Lisbon tea shops sell Gorreana Teas.  Today Gorreana Tea offers Orange Pekoe, Broken Leaf and Pekoe black teas and Hysson green tea.  They have red, blue, light blue and green packages respectively.  

Tea drinking remains a major social event.  On 24 February, 2008, Indore in India held the world record largest tea party, attended by 30,000 people.  This event broke the previous record of 14,718 people taking tea in Nishiao city of Japan in 2006.

Tea Rooms and Shops in Lisbon and Oeiras :

Pastelaria Suiça
Pç. D.Pedro IV
Open Mon to Sat

Chá da Lapa
R. Olival, 8
1200 - LISBON
Everyday : 0900 - 2000

Pastelaria Benard
R. Garrett, 104
1200 - LISBON
0800 - 2400 - Closed Sun.

Os Verdes Anos
Rua Ernesto Veiga de Oliveira, loja 16-B
Mon to Thur 0800-2100
Fri 0800-2300
Sat 0930-2300
Sun 0930-2100

First flush – Tea shop
Rua du Crucifixio 108/110
110-185 LISBON
Metro: Baixa-Chiado

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