Pakistanis love their tea. No event, meeting or celebration is complete without a warm cup of tea, be it green, black or pink.
The International Tea Day is observed annually on December 15 since 2005 in tea producing countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Uganda, India and Tanzania.
International Tea Day aims to draw the global attention of governments and citizens to the impact of the global tea trade on workers and growers and has been linked to requests for price supports and fair trade.
After initial discussions at the World Social Forum in 2004, the first International Tea Day was celebrated in New Delhi in 2005, with later celebrations organized in Sri Lanka in 2006 and 2008. International Tea Day celebrations and the related Global Tea Conferences have been jointly organized by trade union movements.
History of tea
Tea plants are native to East Asia and probably originated in the borderlands of north Burma and southwest China. Tea drinking is believed to have begun in the Yunnan region during the Shang Dynasty in China, when it was used for medicinal purposes. It is also believed that in Sichuan, “people began to boil tea leaves for consumption into a concentrated liquid without the addition of other leaves or herbs, thereby using tea as a bitter yet stimulating drink, rather than as a medicinal concoction.”
The earliest known physical evidence of tea was discovered in the mausoleum of Emperor Jing of Han in Xi’an, indicating that tea from the genus Camellia was drunk by Han Dynasty emperors as early as the 2nd century BC.
Before the mid-8th century Tang dynasty, tea-drinking was primarily a southern Chinese practice. It became widely popular during the Tang Dynasty, when it was spread to Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.
In the subcontinent, tea has been drunk for medicinal purposes for a long but uncertain period, but apart from the Himalayan region, it seems not to have been used as a beverage until the British introduced tea-drinking there much later.
Through the centuries, a variety of techniques for processing tea, and a number of different forms of tea were developed. During the Tang dynasty, tea was steamed, then pounded and shaped into cake form, while in the Song dynasty, loose-leaf tea was developed and became popular. During the Yuan and Ming dynasties, unoxidized tea leaves were first pan-fried, then rolled and dried, a process that stops the oxidation process that turns the leaves dark, thereby allowing tea to remain green. In the 15th century, oolong tea, in which the leaves were allowed to partially oxidize before pan-frying, was developed.
Western tastes, however, favoured the fully oxidized black tea, and the leaves were allowed to oxidize further. Yellow tea was an accidental discovery in the production of green tea during the Ming dynasty, when apparently sloppy practices allowed the leaves to turn yellow but yielded a different flavour as a result.
Tea was first introduced to Portuguese priests and merchants in China during the 16th century, at which time it was termed chá.
The first record of tea in English came from a letter written by Richard Wickham, who ran an East India Company office in Japan, writing to a merchant in Macao requesting “the best sort of chaw” in 1615.
However, it was not widely consumed in Britain until the 18th century, and remained expensive until the latter part of that period. British drinkers preferred to add sugar and milk to black tea, and black tea overtook green tea in popularity in the 1720s.
Tea smuggling during the 18th century led to the general public being able to afford and consume tea and tea was initially consumed as a luxury item on special occasions, such as religious festivals, wakes, and domestic work gatherings.
The price of tea in Europe fell steadily during the 19th century, especially after Indian tea began to arrive in large quantities; by the late 19th-century tea had become an everyday beverage for all levels of society.
Currently, tea is the second most consumed liquid after water and is popular in all cultures.