At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Monday, September 23, 2013

TEA DRINKING

The English are so well-known for their avid consumption of tea that some might even think that they invented the beverage. Not so. Discovered by the Chinese, soon thereafter beloved by the Japanese, and first brought to Europe by the Dutch.
At a time when Netherlanders had already started developing a tea culture of their own -- showcasing the exquisite porcelains and fab trinketries brought back from the Far-East -- the Anglo-Saxons were still swilling coffee and ale (mostly ale), and insofar as they enjoyed tea at all, they were boiling it, then serving it well-drained and mixed with salt and butter on toast.

Like so many English habits, it relieved constipation. British food at that time was mostly boiled meat served with bread and grease, and consequently almost everyone had to visit the apothecary for a dose.
Though they barged into the eastern seas at the same time as the Dutch, their focus was on purgatives.
Canton, that great trading metropolis athrong with merchants from Arabia, Zanzibar, Persia, India, and the Spice Isles, was to the British no more than a humongous supplier of rhubarb.
Which is a wondrous laxative.


It took the British another generation before they discovered that tea could also be drunk. The rest, as they say, is history.


Samuel Johnson wrote his great dictionary of the English language while swacked to the gills on tea (two dozen cups a day), vast armies of working men, freed from the ale-induced wooze that used to start their day (which now merely ends it) built the factory cities of the empire, and a legion of soldiers and civil servants swarmed out of the insular frigidity of the isles to explore and exploit the world.

The change from sodden drunk by noon to zipped to the gills at all hours happened nearly overnight. The world has never been the same.

Neither has India. Which drinks more tea than China and England combined at this point.


"We were unaware that the law required anyone to give an explanation for having tea, whether in the morning, noon or night. One might take tea in a variety of ways, not all of them always elegant or delicate, some of them perhaps even noisy. But we know of no way to drink tea 'suspiciously"

------Bombay High Court Justice Mr. Gautam Patel  [ * ]


Tea in much of India is served with plenty of milk already heated in, flavoured with green cardamom and fennel seeds, medium sweet. Sheer buckets go down the gullet from before the crack of dawn till long after dark. It is available everywhere. Chai, garma-garam ('tea, hot-hot tea'), is the one thing that binds all Indians together, far more than their food, their shared history, or even English, which is their great common tongue.


"Cutting chai is permissible, cutting corners with the law is not."

[Cutting chai: grabbing a quick half-glass of tea.]


Somewhere along the line the subcontinentals also acquired certain administrative practices, but as the laws which England gave to India are, in the main, the old Mughal codes phrased in proper Eton-speak, which were themselves developed on a foundation of previous legal structures, it looks like the only thing required to unite the nation and drag it kicking and screaming and Bollywood song and dancing and generally speaking behaving riotously and enthusiastic in several over-stimulated ways into the modern era was tea.
It worked.


America, of course, relied on coffee and whiskey instead.
That is why we're a little bit different.
Though we too speak English.


We've always been suspicious of tea.




Note: Tea drinking ("thee drinken") is also a code phrase in Dutch for serious discussions in a friendly atmosphere with the parents of mis-behaving immigrant youth, compromise with alleged community leaders who blame civil society for homegrown problems such as increased crime, decreased school graduation figures, and explosions of violence aimed at vulnerable people, as well as, remarkably, negotiations with terrorists. There's nothing quite so constructive as enjoying a hot beverage and delicious cookies with people who cannot do anything about the problem, have no intention of even trying, or defensively persist in blaming everyone else for overblowing the situation and actually by their native Dutch insensitivity being the (only) cause of it.
In Dutch, drinking tea has negative connotations; i.e.: a silly waste of time.

Tea remains a very popular beverage nevertheless.
I, personally, think that mint is the problem.
Mint obviously inflames the passions.
Dangerous substance, clearly.
Ban that nasty stuff.



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