Monday, February 28, 2011

Tea and Flowers

While I like to think I’ve reached the age where I know everything, there are times when I can still be surprised. During a visit to the “Camellia Weekend” at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, I discover that these lush and luxurious flowers actually have a connection with the most consumed beverage in the world.

The leaves of Camellia sinesis have been used to produce Chinese tea since 2700 B.C. According to the literature distributed at Planting Fields, the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung discovered the drink by accident as leaves from a camellia tree accidentally fell into a pot of boiling water.
Who knew these exquisite, hot house flowers had such a history?



In honor of this discovery, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tea paraphernalia, including my Shakespeare tea pot, purchased at Stratford-upon-Avon and carried with care across the Atlantic:

A mustard-yellow teapot from Davison Newman & Co. LTD, made to commemorate the Boston Tea Party, and including the coat of arms of the firm that shipped the cargo tossed overboard in the original Tea Party of 1773:

A Liberty Blue Minuteman Tea Pot:

A Liberty Blue covered vegetable dish depicting the Boston Tea Party:

So, take time to enjoy another cup of tea this morning. It’s part of a beautiful tradition.

©2011 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

16 comments:

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

A very welcome shot of springtime on this dreary New England morning! I love your teapot collection.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a lovely collection of tea pots T.W. I did not know the Camellia story. How fascinating.

You are making me miss the deep south this morning where we had dozens of varieties of Camellias growing in our yard, some so old they were high as small trees. No coffee table was complete in the wintertime without some Camellia blooms floating in crystal bowls.
Sam

Julia said...

A echo Lydia's comment!

I remember driving through the tea fields of China, but don't recall seeing the flowers (or even hearing the story)... maybe because I was visiting in the summer and the flowers bloom in the spring?

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I know they're signs of spring, but that red-and-white striped one just sings Christmas candy canes to me!

tasteofbeirut said...

I love these kinds of discoveries! There is so much to learn in the world of nature and natural food and beverage; for instance I read that the flower of the hibiscus gave the okra (that slimy vegetable we love so much in the middle east); how about the Rosa Damascena giving us rose water? etcetc

Fresh Local and Best said...

You've made me terribly homesick seeing all of these camellias. They grew wildly and thrived in Sausalito, CA. I just love the variegated petal variety.

~~louise~~ said...

What a lovely teapot collection T.W. Please don't make me choose a favorite:)

I'm delighted to learn about the fascinating discovery you reaped at Planting Fields Arboretum. Who knew?

I absolutely adore Camellias and if I ever decided to build my own greenhouse, they will absolutely be one of the most treasured flowers I will grow. I can almost smell them from here. With that thought, I'm off to nighty night...

P.S. Don't forget, free pancakes @ IHOP March 1st...

Jane said...

What a refreshing post this is. The camelia photos are really beautiful, and I love your teapot collection. I am a long-time coffee lover, but I've been sipping tea frequently lately and it's somehow so comforting compared to coffee. Seeing these wonderful pots makes me want to gather my own very small supply of teapots (mine are of sentimental value only) together and actually use them instead of keeping them stored away. You have inspired me!

Meredith said...

Nice post, makes me hope for spring here in the Rocky Mountains! By the way, saw this post on a tea/teapot on tour by Yorkshire Tea. It's a mobile tea truck touring the country... first food trucks, now tea trucks... Interesting nonetheless, maybe tea is making its come back. http://www.brandflakesforbreakfast.com/2011/03/when-teapot-goes-on-tour.html

alfred p. said...

it was certainly fortuitous that someone in china happened to be standing outside under a camellia tree with a pot of boiling water--don't you think?

Matthew said...

That Boston Tea Party pot is fantastic!

Diana said...

I love this blog. I recently had lunch at this lovely Japanese restaurant, called Amber, with my design director Nancy and we got into a discussion about the teapots being used there.
We were inspired by the cast iron teapots and how creative the design and process of making tea is. I had to share this with her.

Mary said...

I came to love unusual teas when we were in China. Chrysanthemum tea was the first we were introduced to. Over time I've come to love lavender and rose tea as well. I didn't know about camellias. Your collection of tea paraphernalia is impressive and I'm sure makes tea time even more delightful. I love a table set with history. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Barbara said...

How lovely! I adore teapots and you have such a nice collection. Tea at your house? Soon?
Fun to read about camellias....I love posts like this!

veron said...

lovely flower where tea comes from s and what a collection of teapots! I love brewing tea specially when it's rainy outside like today.

sophiesfoodiefiles said...

Recently, I also visited Shakespeare's home & this lovely town in England! I love your lovely classical pottery a lot!

Your flowers are looking pretty too!