By Diane Forrest,
Tea is a drink made by infusing hot water through tea leaves. This practice began as early at the 10th century B.C. Tea plants are native to East and South Asia and are a common drink in those areas. In the 16th century tea was imported to Europe, but it was not until the 19th century Britain that tea became as widely consumed as it is today. Legend has it that afternoon tea was started in the mid-1800s by the Duchess of Bedford. Around this time, gas or oil light was introduced in wealthier homes, and eating a late dinner (around eight or nine PM) became fashionable. At the time, there were only two meals each day -- a mid-morning, breakfast-like meal and the other was an increasingly late dinner-like meal.
The story goes that the Duchess found herself with a "sinking feeling" (likely fatigue from hunger during the long wait between meals) and decided to have some friends over for assorted snacks and tea (a very fashionable drink at the time). The idea of an afternoon tea gathering spread across high society and became a favorite pastime of ladies of leisure. Later, it spread beyond the highest elites and became more accessible for some other socioeconomic groups.
Having tea parties was a favorite past time game for many young girls in America, many had their own little plastic tea sets and drink imaginary tea with their dolls and stuffed toys. Today the trend is growing and these young girls are now having fancy teas for birthday parties or just social gatherings.
Hot tea also has many medical benefits. It has been known to:
- Prevent development of Arthritis
- Increase bone density
- Inhibit growth of certain cancers
- Reduce the risk of high blood pressure
- Aid in Oral health
It is also soothing if you have a cough or sore throat when mixed with honey and lemon. For more medical benefits check here: http://www.farsinet.com/hottea/medicalbenefits.html
Spiced tea is a Southern favorite during the winter months. As a wedding favor for my son's December wedding I purchased cups with the name of the place where the wedding was held and filled them with bags of spiced tea. It makes a great gift for any occasion, and it really enjoyed during the cold winter days.
January is National Hot Tea Month, so instead of drinking as much coffee, why not try a nice cup of hot tea, or even make some spiced tea to fight the winter blues. Here is the recipe I used:
Spice Tea Mix
- 1 (3 ounce) package lemon-flavored ice tea mix
- 2 (1.8 ounce) packages orange-flavored drink mix (e.g. Tang)
- 1 1/3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground cloves
- Combine iced tea mix, orange flavored drink mix, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves. Store in an airtight container.
- To serve, stir 1 1/2 teaspoon mix into 1 cup hot water.