November 16 2006
Sandy Pearson forwarded the pages from the Telegraph Magazine to the Editor who is pleased to show it on http://www.koi-hai.com/ and we feel sure that a lot of our readers will enjoy the feature--Thank you Sandy
Windermere Hotel Darjeeling
Returning to the Windermere Hotel in Darjeeling after 25 years the photographer Martin Parr is delighted to find it still redolent of long-gone days of the Raj.
Emma Hagestadt writes for the Telegraph Magazine
Darjeeling Windermere Hotel
Martin Parr first stayed at the Windamere Hotel in Darjeeling 25 years ago. After revisiting the hotel and the nearby Tea Planters Club to capture the last vestiges of Anglo-India, he is happy to report that nothing much has changed. ‘It's really how you imagine a hotel in the 1930s,' he says, brandishing a picture of the hotel's parlour complete with fringed lampshades, Axminster carpets and a framed portrait of the Queen. In a hill station originally built to look like the suburbs of Guildford, it's easy to see why this Surrey-born documentarist might feel at home.
Perched just below the summit of Observatory Hill, the hotel's primrose-yellow bungalows look out over deeply shelving tea plantations and sub-tropical valleys. Originally a boarding house for English tea planters, it was turned into an Edwardian-style hotel in 1939. Now owned by the Tenduf-la family, a quixotic clan with links to Tibet and Sikkim, it is patronised, Parr says, largely by ‘tourists and wealthy Calcuttans.'
The Windermere Hotel lounge
The Planters Club Library
The Windermere Hotel's dining room
Parr has long been preoccupied with Englishness. Although he thinks of himself as a romantic, his photographs immortalizing Tory summer fetes and Scarborough sun-worshippeers often suggest mockery rather than affection. Steeped in nostalgia, both the Windamere Hotel and the club have preserved the rituals of another age-an excellent thing, insists Parr, who would prefer to have everything ‘as it was in 1950.'
The trials of eating in public - from seafront fish and chips to cricket teas - is a recurring theme in Parr's work. The Windamere's retro dining arrangements fill his with schoolboy glee. Breakfast is served in a turret-shaped room with views of the mist-shrouded Himalayas. Porridge, bacon and ‘rumble tumble' eggs are wheeled in by waiters decked out in white frock-shirts and Lepcha caps. Raj favourites such as mutton hash, devilled kidneys and Madras fritters (ham and chutney sandwiches battered and deep-fried) may have been replaced by pancakes and rosemary and raisin muffins but the toast remains reassuringly leathery and the coffee lukewarm.
|The lunch time gong is sounded every day at 1pm precisely and at 4pm |
|Everything stops for tea||The Hot water bottle wallah warms the beds|
English influence in the Windermere's grounds
with colourful plates and food
The bar at the Windermere
At every meal guests are offered both ‘international' and Indian dishes, which means new arrivals often end up with shepherd's pie, butter naan and egg curry on the same plate. ‘Look at the gravy!' Parr enthuses, pointing out a shot of a marooned slice of Yorkshire pudding.
There is still the comforting din of the one o'clock lunch gong and on Sundays roast beef and plain vegetables are on the menu, as is jam roly-poly and custard - a clubroom favourite whose super-saturated colours scream out for Parr's appreciative lens. At the stroke of four, weary trekkers and visiting deputy high commissioners settle on the veranda for tea: a nursery feast of cucumber finger sandwiches, scones, fruit cake and, of course, a pot of Darjeeling.
The unabashed decoration at the tea planter's Club
One thing doesn't go down well with Americans - the lack of central heating. ‘There's a hot-water bottle wallah,' Parr chortles, tripping over his w's ‘and a fire-lighting wallah.' The bedroom fires are lit at 6 pm and hot-water bottles are slipped under the chintz quilts during dinner.
Furnished with twin beds and miniature memsahib dressing-tables, the sparsely decorated rooms are not designed with tantric canoodlers in mind. The bar is open for post-prandial nightcaps but guests generally opt for an early night. Signs in the ‘Snuggery' remind them not to ‘lie supine on the hearth or sleep behind the settee.'
Traditional teatime fare at the hotel
Inscrutable an interviewee though Parr can be, his enjoyment of the Windamere Hotel seems entirely genuine. ‘It's very pleasant,' he says, sounding every inch the Home counties gent. ‘Don't you just want to
Retro promotional knick-knacks
adorn the hotel bar
The menu board broadcasts the available delights
Return to top
October 2 2006
We are indebted to Sandy Pearson for locating this pamphlet on the origins of Tea. It was created by Osbert Lancaster and is no longer in copyright
It is an interesting and fun read --Thank you Sandy
THE STORY OF TEA
The origin of tea is a subject which, like the date of Stonehenge and the whereabouts of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel, has given rise to much profound speculation and has be productive of a multitude of theories no less dogmatic than surprising. By the Chinese it is confidently asserted that the year 2737 B.C. the Emperor Shen-Nung, a potentate remarkable at that date for an abiding interest in hygiene, was one day boiling his drinking water, a sanitary precaution that he never tired of commending to the notice of his subjects, when a few leaves from the branches that were crackling beneath the pot fell into the water imparting to it a delicate and exquisite aroma. Subsequent investigation revealed that the branches were those of the wild tea-plant.
Patriotic Indians, on the other hand, maintain that the discovery of tea must be ascribed to the saintly Darma, a Buddhist worthy who flourished early in the Christian era and, from motives of piety, devoted seven years of his life to sleepless contemplation of the Buddha. At the beginning of the fifth year he was assailed by not unnatural drowsiness, but in his dire extremity was so fortunate as carelessly to pluck a few leaves from a near-by bush which he started to chew. Needless to say these proved to be those of the tea plant, which immediately produced so revivifying an effect that all trace of drowsiness vanished and with their help he was enabled to accomplish the two remaining years of his self-imposed vigil.
Darma or Dharuma, by Soami.
The Japanese, while accepting this story in outline, differ nevertheless in detail, and in their version a new and characteristically Macabre note is introduced
When the pious Darma felt sleep approaching there was no stimulating tea plant, so they maintain, at hand or for that matter in existence, and the only way in which the saint could keep awakewas by adopting the somewhat drastic expedient of cutting off his eyelids. These he tossed carelessly aside and immediately much to his astonishment, there sprang up two handsome bushes which proved, surprisingly enough to be tea plants. Whichever of these theories one may feel inclined to accept it is nevertheless an established fact that the drinking of tea is a habit that first evolved among the Chinese. The earliest reference to tea in the literature of that country occurs in a scholarly work by one Kuo P'o who flourished in the fourth century of our era. A hundred years later the custom seems to have become general in the province of Szechuan, and by the middle of the 8th century to have become so widespread that the tea industry had assumed a position of considerable economic importance.
In the year 780, in order that the habit might become even more popular, the tea merchants of China decided that it would prove a profitable investment to commission some prominent writer to produce a work extolling the merits and extending the knowledge of this wholesome beverage. Accordingly they secured the services of Lu-Yu, a well known litterateure of the period, who wrote a book under the title Cha Ching in which the whole subject of tea was exhaustively dealt with and for which his backers spared no effort to procure a wide circulation. The work immediately achieved an enormous success, which obtained for its author the friendship of the Emperor and numerous social advantages.
Some thirty years after the publication of Cha Ching another Buddhist saint, Dengyo Daishi, brought seeds of the tea plant to Japan, and in a short time the Japanese had adopted the custom of tea-drinking with an even greater enthusiasm than the nation which had first developed it. In the year 815the Emperor Saga issued an imperial edict commanding the cultivation of tea in five provinces and appropriating a large annual tribute for the consumption of the Imperial Household. Soon the Japanese had surrounded the whole business of tea-drinking with the elaborate web of ceremony and ritual so characteristic of this nation.
At first , both in China and Japan, tea had been valued for it's medicinal rather than it's social or gastronomic virtues, but by the time that the first travellers from the west penetrated into the Far East it had long become the national beverage of both countries. The first European to bring tea to the notice of the Western world was the learned Giambattista Ramusio, who edited the many works of travel , among them being an account of his experiences in China by a Persian merchant, Hajji Mahomet by name,which included in a volume entitled Navigatione et Viaggi published in venice in 1559. In this work the intrepid Persian gives along account of tea, it's cultivationand brewing, and seems, like it's first discoverers, to have been chiefly struck by its medicinal properties, which he compares very favourably with those of Rhubarb.
However, the distinction of being the first European to mention tea was only secured to Signor Ramusio by an exceedingly short head, for, in the very next year, 1560 an enterprising Portugese, Father Gaspar de Cruz, to whom belongs the honour of first preaching Catholic as opposed to Nestorian Christianity to the inhabitants of China, published ans account of his missionary activities in which he devotes a paragraph to tea. A little later another missionary, Father Almeida, gave his countrymen an account of tea as it is drunk by the Chinese, and in 1589 a learned Venetian Giovanni Botero devoted considerable space to a discussion of the beauties of tea in a work entitled, rather surprisingly, On the Causes of Greatness in Cities Our own countrymenwere forced to remain in ignorance of the existence of tea, unless of course they could read Italian or Portugese, until 1598, when there appeared in Londonthe translation of a Dutch work by that daring navigator Jan Hugo van Linschooten in which he provides a long and detailed description of the custom of tea-drinking, carefully differentiating between the manner
favoured by the Chinese and that in vogue in Japan. Between the first mention of tea in European literature and its first actual appearance in the West there elapsed a period of some fifty years. Although it is not absolutely certain, the first consignment of tea ever to arrive in Europe is generally thought to have reached Holland in 1610 ; it was transported from Macao to Java and thence transhipped to Europe. For many years to come such tea as was imported by sea was carried by the Dutch ; but in 1618 the first tea caravan from China reached Russia by the overland route.
In Holland the custom of tea-drinking soon spread with a remarkable rapidity that was partially accounted for by the high repute in which the traditionally costive Dutch held its supposedly laxative qualities. In England, curiously enough, the habit took much longer to establish itself and it was not until 1657, when a certain London coffee-house proprietor, Thomas Garraway, issued a broadside extolling its virtues and announcing that henceforth it would always be obtainable at his establishment, that it can be said to have emerged from the fashionable curiosity stage. It was still regarded as a panacea for every conceivable ill and the list of complaints which Mr. Garraway affirmed that it would instantly cure, or at least relieve, far out-numbered the few simple maladies that the sceptical Dutch had claimed it would remedy. In 1660 Samuel Pepys records his first cup and soon afterwards it achieved great popularity in Court circles, into which it had been introduced by Catharine of Braganza, who had brought the habit with her from Portugal, where it was already well established among the nobility and gentry.
From this time forth references to tea-drinking occur in almost every European language with increasing frequency. In France it had provoked the most acrid controversy in medical circles as early as 1650, but nevertheless soon attained to a degree of popularity that it has never since enjoyed. Mme. de Sevign6, writing in 1680, informs us that Mme. de la Sabliere was the first person to take her tea with milk, and among other distinguished French tea-drinkers of the period were Cardinal Mazarin, who took it for his gout, and the dramatist Racine. In 1679 there appeared a work on tea, by the learned Dr. Bontekoe of Alkmaar, which enjoyed an enormous circulation and probably did more than almost anything else to popularize tea as a beverage in Western Europe.
At first the demand which all this propaganda had cleverly created tended to exceed the supply, and in 1666 two noble Lords, Ossory and Arlington, made a handsome profit from.
a quantity of tea which they imported from Amsterdam and distributed among their friends (a historic transaction that proves, among other things, that the stigma attaching to `trade' was the invention of a much later epoch), which was not perhaps surprising as, although the price in Amsterdam was only 3s. 4d. a lb., it sold in London at £2 18s. 4d. It was not until 1681 that the East India Company gave a standing order to its agents in the East for a supply of tea, and not ' until 1689 that they imported direct from Amoy. As a result of this sudden display of enterprise the market was at one moment almost flooded, but it soon recovered and the price remained about 12s. to 13s. a lb. until the end of the century.
The 18th century saw the firm establishment of tea as a national beverage among all classes of the community. Nevertheless there were some who still regarded it as an unmitigated evil to be resolutely and constantly opposed, both on medical and social grounds. One of the first and most prominent of these was Lord President Forbes, who was anxious that a law should be passed confining the use of tea to the upper classes in that, like so many other simple pleasures, it was notoriously a powerful agent for the demoralization of the working man. This opinion was shared by no less a person than John Wesley, who roundly condemned the pernicious beverage on moral and religious grounds. However, the fact that he left behind a half-gallon tea-pot, which still survives, inscribed with a suitably evangelical invocation to the Deity, tempts one to think that the great preacher may perhaps have shown a certain lack of constancy in his disapproval
But the most famous of all attacks on tea was that published by the well-known traveller Jonas Hanway who branded it `as pernicious to health, obstructing industry and impoverishing the nation' ; famous, not because it contained any stones that
had not previously been thrown, nor for any particular literary graces, but solely because it roused the ire and provoked the intervention of the most justly celebrated of all tea-drinkers. Goaded by these puny attacks on his favourite beverage the portentous figure of the Great Cham himself rolls majestically into action. In a series of shattering broadsides in the Literary Magazine Dr. Johnson utterly demolished the absurd pretensions of Mr. Hanway and proudly ran up his flag as the unswerving addict and champion of tea. "A hardened and shameless tea-drinker who has for many years diluted his mea's 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"
Although he was never again called upon to defend the cause of tea-drinking with his pen Dr Johnson never ceased, until his dying day to promote it by his example.
While Dr Johnson was remarkable among tea-drinkers of all time for the actual quantities he consumed , his fondness for the beverage was in no way exceptional among his contemporaries. By the middle of the 18th century the habit had
At that time, it is calculated, more than half, some say as much as two-thirds, of all the tea consumed in England was smuggled. All round the coast of Britain, but more particularly in Cornwall, Dorset and Kent, an elaborate system of revenue evasion had been established. Dutch merchantmen lying off the coast were surrounded by a crowd of smaller vessels that had put off from the shore and their cargoes were rapidly transferred by night to a hundred different bays and inlets. British-owned luggers and cutters made regular voyages from various continental ports to numberless secluded coves in the West Country. Large and convenient caves, cleverly ventilated and connected with little-used lanes by the most ingenious systems of underground passages and tunnels, were employed as storehouses whence the tea (as well as brandy, tobacco and silk) was conveyed all over the country by well-organized caravans of ponies and carts.
So profitable was the job of carter that in certain parts of the country a real shortage of agricultural labourers resulted. In vain did the Government employ all the paraphernalia of excisemen, revenue cutters and ferocious penalties in their effort to stamp out this illegal traffic ; the whole community combined to make the attainment of such an aim impossible.
So virtuous, so generally respected and so wealthy a figure as the celebrated Mrs. Montagu, Queen of the Blues, did not hesitate to concoct elaborate plots whereby her friends and acquaintances visiting Paris might elude the vigilance of the customs officials and save her a pound or two by bringing over supplies of tea and silk. In many churches all over the country the crypts were found to be convenient places in which to store contraband, and few indeed were the parsons who hesitated to place them at the disposal of ` the Gentlemen.' Even the members of the Board of Trade themselves, as Horace Walpole took considerable pleasure in pointing out, were ` wallowing in contraband wine, tea and silk handkerchiefs.'
No taint of criminality attached to those engaged in the traffic, and when. from time to time a smuggler fell a victim to the guns of the revenue officers he was popularly regarded as a brave martyr brutally butchered. The epitaph on the tomb of one of the celebrated ` moonrakers,' as they were called, who was shot by the customs men in flagrante delicto, well exemplifies the general view of such tragedies :
A little tea ; one leaf I did not steal
For guiltless bloodshed I to God appeal.
Put tea in one scale, human blood in Cother,
And think what 'tis to slay a harmless brother.
Distressing as was this aspect of the East India Company's monopoly, it could not compare in the gravity of its effect with another. This is not the place to inquire into the complicated reasons for the War of Independence, but it may safely be
The great auction room at East India house, where all tea sales took place
2until the abolition of the Company's monopoly by Parliament in 1831
stated that tea was, if not one of the most important causes of that conflict, at any rate the spark which finally produced the conflagration. In 1765 the unfortunate Stamp Act was passed which aroused burning resentment among the colonials and had the immediate effect of transferring half the trade with America into the hands of the Dutch ; a development which affected no one more adversely than the East India Company. In order to recapture their lost market the Directors evolved a scheme whereby the Company was to be given the right to export tea to America direct, thus cutting out both the London exporter and the American importer, which (together with a duty of 3d. a lb.) they prevailed upon Parliament to accept in 1773
IN THE 17TH, 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES, OWING TO A SCARCITY OF SMALL COINAGE, TRADESMEN WERE ALLOWED TO PRODUCE THEIR OWN TOKENS, WHICH THEY ISSUED AS SMALL CHANGE AND WHICH WAS DULY HONOURED. THESE TOKENSWERE ISSUED IN A VARIETY OF METALS,SHAPES, AND SIZES
Up till this time the Americans had been no less oug ty tea-drinkers than the English, but now with one accord they resolved to deny themselves the pleasure of their favourite beverage in the interests of patriotism and to boycott a drink which reached them under such humiliating conditions. In December of the same year the first three tea ships arrived at Boston from England and were allowed to unload all their cargo save the tea ; but as the harbour authorities would not allow the ships to leave until they had unloaded all their cargo the unfortunate captains were in a sad dilemma that was, however, forcibly resolved on the night of the sixteenth. As soon as darkness fell a large band of youths and men who, from a national weakness for dressing up in outlandish finery had been led to disguise themselves as Red Indians, descended upon the three ships and straightway emptied the contents of the holds into the water.
Neither the news of these shocking events, nor the resentment felt by the English exporters for the East India Company, in any way affected the habit of tea-drinking among the English. In every walk of life the ` diffusion of this fragrant leaf' gained an increasing number of adherents. King George himself much enjoyed his cup of tea and frequently condescended to take it in the company of various suitable persons in the neighbourhood of Windsor. It is not, however, recorded that any of his sons displayed any undue enthusiasm for this healthful and ,stimulating beverage. Such redoubtable figures as Mrs. Montagu, Mrs. Delany, Mrs. Chapone and Miss Anna Seward, the Swan of Lichfield, were all notable tea-drinkers, and among the literary lions of the day both Cowper and Pope sung the delights of tea. The latter's best-known reference is, it is true, incidental to his description of Queen Anne, published much earlier in the century, who ` sometimes counsel takes and sometimes tea,' but Cowper constantly praised it both in prose and verse. With this increase in popularity tea-drinking was now surrounded by a ritual less pompous but no less binding than that prevailing in Japan, and on the decoration of the various symbols of the mystery was lavished an enormous amount of art and skill. The tea-pot, when it was not silver, was frequently a triumph of the potter's craft, at that time passing through its most flourishing period ; nor were the cups, the sugar-tongs and the caddies any whit inferior in design and elaboration. Rich noblemen even went so far as to employ special functionaries, to superintend the infusion of their evening tea, who went by the name of 'tea-blenders' As they were almost invariably young women of considerable beauty, one is tempted to assume that they were occasionally called upon to undertake other dutiesno less enjoyable if perhaps less innocent than that of presiding over their masters tea table; an assumption which the fact that the lovely Emma hamiltonbegan her career as a tea-blender does little to disprove.
But it was not only among the nobility that tea-drinking had now become a daily rite ; in the circles immortalized by Jane Austen the life of the household gravitates no less surely around the tea-urn and for the rising evangelical middle-class the swilling of enormous quantities of tea was the one permissible indulgence. The connection between tea and Dissent is close and strange and would doubtless be profitable to investigate at length. Here, however, we can but remind readers of the memorable scene in Pickwick when Sam Weller prevails upon his unwilling father to accompany him to a soiree at the Brick Lane Branch of the United Grand Junction Ebenezer Temperance Association, where the poor old gentleman was very disturbed to notice the enormous quantities of tea consumed and was shocked to observe the " young 'ooman on the next form but two as has drunk nine breakfast cups and a half and she's a swellin' wisibly before my wery eyes. "
The date of the origin of the chapel tea-fight has, it is worth noticing, been definitely established by the exhaustive researches of Mr. G. M. Young, who has proved conclusively that it was the invention of W. Daniell, the author of Warminster Common, and first took place on December 13, 1815. As to its nature, in these early days a lot may be gleaned from the following extract from the latter's diary : " Drank tea at Chapel with Christian friends. A holy unction attended and great was the joy. We all could say ` Unto us a child is born'." One trusts that the worthy man was speaking figuratively At the end of the first quarter of the 19th century two very important changes took place. Now for the first time tea became a meal in itself; hitherto it had always been drunk in the drawing-room after dinner, now it is taken in the middle of the afternoon (an innovation for which tradition maintains the Duchess of Bedford of the period to be responsible). And in 1833 Parliament ended the East India Company's monopoly of the China trade. The far-reaching results of this measure were not at first apparent, but early in the 'forties the London tea merchants became seriously alarmed at the amount of trade that was being captured by the Americans and there then ensued a period of intensive competitive shipbuilding which produced the last and most romantic chapter in the long history of the sailing vessel.
In their endeavour to seize this profitable market the American shipbuilders evolved a new and incomparably fast type of ship that came to be known as the tea clipper. Hitherto the clipper had mainly been employed on the dangerous opium trade, where speed was essential ; but now various improvements were effected in the design and these American clippers rushed their tea cargoes from Canton to Boston or New York in times which no British boat could hope to emulate. Distressing as was this invasion of British preserves worse was to come. In 1849 England entered on its long period of free trade and the very next year the American clipper Oriental hauled into the West India Docks, only 97 days out from the Canton river, with 1,118 tons of prime tea.
At last the English merchant marine awoke to the danger and in the very same year the first English clipper, the Stornoway was launched by Jardine, Matheson & Co., the great firm of China merchants, at Aberdeen. From now on an intense rivalry developed between the shipbuilders and designers on either side of the Atlantic, and the speeds at which the voyage from China to London was accomplished became steadily higher and higher. Luckily perhaps for the British various outside factors conspired against the Americans.The discovery of gold in California created a demand for fast ships to transport miners round Cape horn, which led to the withdrawal of some of the fastest clippers from the China trade: the great famine in Ireland increased the stream of emigrants to America and caused the American ship-owners to concentrate far more on fast passenger traffic, and finally the Civil War completely wrecked the American merchant marine for many years to come
But the spirit of rivalry which the American challenge had created did not vanish; it continued to operate between the various British shipping firms, and the public interest in the annual tea race grew apace throughout the 'fifties, until in the next decade it surpassed that shown in any sporting event with the possible exception of the Derby itself. Seven or eight crack ships would leave the Canton river on the same tide and then no more would be heard of them until they were sighted in the Channel. The excitement which this intelligence created in London was intense ; as the time approached when the first news of them might reasonably b° expected all connected with the trade were in a frenzy. Not only was the first cargo home invariably sold at fancy prices, but large sums of money were wagered on the result, and as the progress of the ships up the Channel was followed by telegraph the excitement mounted. On arrival in the Downs a long delay frequently ensued while a favourable wind to come up the river was awaited, and in order that they might know the moment the ships could weigh anchor many tea merchants installed a wind-clock in their city offices. This was a large clock-face marked with the points of the compass and furnished with a single hand which was connected with a weather vane on the roof. At night clerks watched the dial constantly and, the moment the needle veered towards the south-west, rushed downstairs to inform the messenger who was mounted in readiness at the door and at once galloped off to awaken the merchant in his villa at Balham or Streatham. He, in his turn, immediately took horse for the docks. As the winner hauled in, a storm of cheering broke out from the crowds of merchants, samplers and general public gathered on the quay, and the victorious captain and crew invariably received a large bonus, usually five hundred pounds or so.
The most celebrated of all the tea races was that of 1866, when the Taeping and the Ariel came racing up the Channel
Duke of Wellingtons Teapot. Designed by Flaxmanand made by Wedgewoods to commemorate the battle of Vittoria. On one side is the medallionof the Duke (crowned with laurel)and inscribed On the reverse the words "India Portugal and Spain Vittoria 21st June 1813
together and arrived at the Downs within minutes of each other with the Serica scarcely four hours behind Officially the race was not finished until the first samples of tea had landed at the London Docks and much depended on the luck with which the pilot was obtained; but on this occasion the owners of the two ships were so terrified of losing the 10s. a ton bonus for the first tea landed that they agreed to divide the prize, much to the fury of the captain and crew of the Taeping, who managed to dock just twenty minutes ahead of the Ariel. But this race, if the most celebrated, was also one of the last. The competition of steam soon proved too strong, and five years later the Titania won the last tea race in a ninetyseven-day run from Foochow.
Some thirty years before the year of the great tea race an event had taken place which was to change the whole situation in regard to tea far more extensively than the adoption of steam. For some years various experiments had been carried out in India with the object of starting the cultivation of tea in that country, but, in 1813, an Act of Parliament diminishing the East India Company's powers and privileges, decreed inter alia that the monopoly of the China trade should cease in 1833. In these circumstances, the idea of introducing teagrowing into India received a fresh impetus and importance. The culminating point, which marks the real birth of the Indian Tea Industry, was the discovery by Major Robert Bruce, in the year 1823, of indigenous tea plants in Assam. During the following decade further discoveries of tea growing wild in Assam were made and some experimental work carried out.
In 1833 the China monopoly ended and in 1834 that enlightened Governor-General Lord William Bentinck, appointed a Committee charged with the duty of submitting to the Government a plan for the introduction of tea cultivation in India. At first the Committee's work was largely confined to the growth and manufacture of tea from seeds or plants imported from China, but pioneers pursued the cultivation of wild tea until it was finally established on a commercial scale. In January, 1839, a first consignment of eight chests of tea from India was auctioned in London and sold at prices ranging from 16s. to 34s. a lb. (Exactly one hundred years later, i.e. on 10th January, 1939, a ceremonial auction sale was held in Mincing Lane to mark the Centenary of the Empire Tea Industry).
The same year, 1839, saw the founding of the Assam Company, the first commercial venture in tea, to which concern the Government made over most of its experimental holdings. The tea industry in India was launched, and from these beginnings it developed and spread to other districts in the north-east and in the south of India, so that, to-day, India has over 800,000 acres under tea, with an annual production of over 550,000,000 lbs.
The story of the founding of the tea industry in Ceylon is more dramatic. Coffee was the island's great and prosperous crop, though small areas of tea, both of the Assam and China varieties, were experimentally cultivated following the establishment of the Indian industry. But in 1869 a devastating blight attacked the coffee with such violence that within a few years it had completely destroyed the trees and ruined the whole industry. The British planters who formed the industry were broken financially, but not in spirit. A grim struggle ensued to replace the lost plantations with another product and from the ashes of coffee, tea, phcenix-like, arose. The rapid establishment of tea was a noteworthy achievement. In 1875 the first thousand acres of old coffee land was planted up with tea and twenty years later 305,000 acres were under cultivation. To-day there are over 550,000 acres of tea in Ceylon with an annual production of some 300,000,000 lbs.
The introduction of tea into Java belongs to the same era as the beginnings of tea in India, but it was not until 1878 that the foundations of a successful industry were laid with the regular importation of tea seeds from Assam and the introduction of Indian manufacturing methods. Thereafter,
the tea industry in Java, rapidly developed , with a later extension to Sumatra, until, before Japan's occupation of the Netherlands East Indies in 1942, there were some 500,000acres under cultivation in these two islands with an annual production of some 250,000,000lbs of tea.
The production of tea in India Ceylon and the Netherlands East Indies was later supplemented by the development of a tea growing industry in East Africa. This began in 1902 in Nyasaland and was followed in 1925 by planting in Kenya and then Uganda and Tanganyika. Today there are over 40,000 acres of tea in these four countries with an output of some 30,000,000 lbs. a year. The development of these vast new sources of tea represents a remarkable triumph of British and Dutch industry, science and business enterprise which enabled an ever-growing world demand for tea to be satisfied at prices which all could afford. Moreover, India, Ceylon and the Netherlands East Indies gradually supplanted China as the world's chief source of tea, until by 1939 these countries, together with East Africa, supplied some 85 per cent. of the world's total exportable tea production, with China supplying less than 10 per cent.
The reign of Queen Victoria saw the national institution ` afternoon tea ' firmly established among all classes of the community in Britain, and of the many illustrious figures of the reign few there were who were not confirmed tea-drinkers. If the 19th century produced no such conspicuous champion of tea as Dr. Johnson, it was largely because the cause no longer required championing either by word or example. Two tea-drinkers, however, stand out from the rest, both by reason of the enormous quantities they consumed and the fame they attained in other connections. The Duke of Wellington was a notable tea addict and always insisted on taking vast stores of tea with him on all his campaigns, and it was Mr. Gladstone's proud boast that he consumed more tea between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m. than any other man in the House. Indeed, so over-powering was the great man's longing for tea in the small hours that in order to satisfy it with the minimum of trouble on those occasions when he was not in the House but in his own bed, he was accustomed, it is said, to make a practice of filling his hot-water bottle with boiling tea in order that it might fulfil the two-fold purpose of warming the feet and quenching an insatiable thirst.
In order to cope with such notable capacities for tea as this, combined with the enormous increase of the population, the tea industry continued to flourish throughout the reign. It might, however, be chastening as well as kind to spare a tear for one tea business that did not flourish. In the 'seventies none other than Mr. Ruskin opened a shop for the sale of tea to the poor in Paddington Street. Alas, like so many of Mr. Ruskin's enterprises it did not prove a success. Excellent as was the quality of the tea on sale, the poor were unresponsive and Mr. Ruskin, himself no mean judge of tea, was forced to explain, with a pardonable degree of sourness, that ' the poor only like to buy their tea where it is brilliantly lighted and eloquently ticketed.' One is left with a shrewd suspicion that those premises in Paddington Street were wrapped in a correct but possibly slightly forbidding Gothic gloom. But the author of the Stones of Venice must have been the only retailer in England at this period who had cause to reproach the public with too little enthusiasm for:
The tea ! The tea !-the wholesome tea.
The black, the green, the mix'd, the strong Gunpowder or Bohea.
This enthusiasm for tea, however, was by no means confined to the British Isles. The emigrants who peopled the Dominions took their taste for tea with them and it flourished as strongly across the oceans as it did at home.
In Canada, tea was included in the early shipments, in the 18th century, made by the Hudson Bay Company to their forts and posts. Tea became, as it remained, the favourite beverage in Canadian homes, as well as the standby of the trappers and hunters in the Far North, from whom the Eskimos derived a taste for tea which makes them among the world's greatest tea-drinkers.
The Dutch took tea with them when they first landed at the Cape of Good Hope, and the subsequent British settlements reinforced tea's position in South Africa. More recently, the African native people have begun to show themselves as great tea-lovers as the whites.
But it was in Australia and New Zealand that the tea habit took strongest root and, for a time, raised tea-drinking to heights even surpassing those in the motherland. The " billy " in which Australians boil their tea in the bush has a very special niche in the Australian national saga, and tea regularly five times a day still forms an essential part of the life of those vigorous peoples of the Antipodes.
Elsewhere, tea has long been a staple beverage in the Arab world and has never lost its ancient hold in China and Japan, while the inhabitants of the other tea-growing countries also provide an exception to the rule that " The nearer the Kirk, the further from Grace " recent years having seen the habit of tea-drinking spread and increase among the peoples of India, Ceylon and the Netherlands East Indies.
Where is this " Grace " not abounding ? Only in Europeexcept in Holland, in Poland and in Russia (whose needs are partly met by their own tea grown in the Caucasus) ; in South America ; and, despite the influence of the Irish, in the U.S.A. But although the per capita consumption is small, the U.S.A. is, next to the United Kingdom, the world's largest importer of tea, and in iced tea America has created one of its most popular hot-weather beverages. Next to water, tea has, in fact, become the world's principal, as well as its cheapest, drink, with an astronomical yearly consumption of over 300,000,000,000 cups.
Tea, like all other commodities, suffered from the vagaries of those uncertain years after the 1914-1918 War, when alternating periods of exaggerated prosperity and acute depression upset the stability of the market. In 1932 Tea found itself in a position where rapidly increasing world production far exceeded potential world consumption. Not content with submitting to current maladjustment or idly waiting upon some more benign future unfolding itself, producers in the three main black tea-producing countries set themselves the somewhat formidable task of putting their own industry in order.
What must be regarded as a major event in the history of tea was the signing of the International Tea Agreement in April, 1933, which instituted a scheme for the regulation of the exports of tea from India, Ceylon and the Netherlands East Indies with the aim of achieving and maintaining equilibrium betw,°en supply and demand. It is to be noted that the objective was two-fold. Firstly the regulation of exports to provide for the supply of all present and immediately potential requirements, and secondly the taking of all possible steps for fostering the demand for tea and for increasing its consumption throughout the world.
An international committee was formed to implement the provisions of the Tea Agreement and administer the scheme. Although the Agreement was originally concluded between producers in India, Ceylon and the Netherlands East Indies, the growers in the four main African tea-producing countries, viz. Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika and Nyasaland subsequently came into the scheme and all the countries mentioned have representatives on the International Tea Committee. The first Agreement was for five years from 1st April, 1933, to 31st March, 1938, and was renewed for a further period of five
years thereafter. In 1943 arrangements were arrived at whereby the Tea Regulation Scheme was to be continued for the duration of hostilities and a period thereafter to allow of the question of further extension being considered in the light of post-war circumstances and developments.
The Governments of each of the regulating countries enacted such internal legislation as was necessary to allow of the scheme being effectively administered and each Government has a representative upon the International Tea Committee.
Let it be said here that the International Tea Committee, having once assumed an onerous and difficult responsibility, have throughout the years discharged their obligations with wise and wide understanding, with integrity and with success.
Under the terms of the International"-Tea Agreement the International Tea Committee were inter alia required to study ways and means for increasing the consumption of tea in the world.
Individual efforts to increase the consumption of the tea produced by particular countries were already in existence. In 1935, in pursuance of the International Agreement, the statutory bodies in India, Ceylon and the Netherlands East Indies responsible for expending the funds for the promotion collected by their Governments, jointly formed the International Tea Market Expansion Board in order to conduct joint promotion work for the teas of all the regulating countries in all markets outside the countries of production.
Since that date, through its Bureaux in the main tea-consuming countries, the International Tea Market Expansion Board has undertaken, with marked success, work in Europe, America, Africa and Australia, while similar successful efforts have been made by the producers to increase local tea consumption in India, Ceylon and the Netherlands East Indies.
Owing first to shipping shortages and then in 1942 the loss of the Netherlands East Indies, the second World War brought with it control of distribution and, in most countries, rationing to the general public. Never before, however, has tea been more prized than during these war years. The armies, navies and air forces of the British Commonwealth fought on tea, while in Britain itself it was tea that chiefly sustained the ordinary man and woman in their homes, in the Civil Defence Services, and in the factories. The Minister of Food, Lord Woolton, himself truly summed up tea's position to-day when he declared that ` Tea is more than a beverage in Britain.'