Friday, January 09, 2009

The beginning of Assam in Britain

Two Scottish brothers, Major Robert Bruce and Sir Charles Alexander Bruce started tea cultivation in India in 1817. In 1823 Robert discovered an indigenous plant used by the people of the Assam region of India. Originally it was rejected as being just another form of the flower, Camellia sinensis. Before his death in 1825, Robert passed the information about the plant on to his brother Charles. When presented more thoroughly in 1830 by Charles, the find was declared ``the most important and valuable'' ever made on agricultural or commercial resources of the British Empire. In 1835, the first tea company, the Assam Tea Company, opened.

On January 10, 1839 a shipment of 159k of tea (about 300 lbs of Assam tea shipped in May 1838) from the Assam region of India became available in Britain for the first time. Until this time, the nation had seen only tea from China, and that had become very expensive. As India was a British colony, there was no duty on the Indian tea and it quickly became more affordable than the Chinese tea. This lead to the popularity of tea drinking in Britain.

Today's CelebriTea is Rod Stewart
Lyrics excerpted from ``Every Picture Tells a Story'', 1971

Paris was a place you could hide away
if you felt you didn't fit in
French police wouldn't give me no peace
They claimed I was a nasty person
Down along the Left Bank minding my own
Was knocked down by a human stampede
Got arrested for inciting a peaceful riot
when all I wanted was a cup of tea
I was accused
I moved on ...

Happy 64th Birthday, Rod!

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