In the United States and globally, there is a holiday that is centered around LOVE. Valentine’s Day is in the middle of the month of February but can be celebrated at any time. It is a time to reflect on those that we love. Thinking of those that we love is often intertwined with the beverage of tea. Historical moments of their lives, visiting with them, traveling with them, being a listener of their highs and lows, showing hospitality, and lending a helping hand can frequently involve a cup of tea. Join me in delving into how people throughout the world have shown love to someone through a cup of tea and also shown the love of tea. Included are some highlights of how love has been infused with tea.
May I Offer You Some Tea?
The simple act of serving tea can signify love for someone. The ancient Greeks believed there were three definitions of love that are still in use today. Philia involves a friendship love. Agape is the unconditional love of God, or a self sacrificing love. Eros is the romantic love. The beverage of tea has been around for five thousand years. It is the second most consumed beverage in the world. In different continents, and countries, tea has served as an extension of all three forms of love.
Philia Love and Tea
The Chinese refer to Lu Yu as The Father Of Tea (715-803 AD). He lived during one of China’s culturally prolific dynasties, the Tang Dynasty. During the Tang Dynasty, tea had started to become a social beverage. Lu Yu noticed people would gather together and drink tea. Lu Yu wrote the first book about tea titled The Classic of Tea. In the later part of his book, he included missives and methodology regarding preparing and serving tea.
When I lived in England, I was frequently offered a cup of tea in friendship. The English have a saying “Let’s have a nice cup of tea and a sit down”. Those offerings of tea helped me quickly assimilate in a different country and culture and bond with new friends over a cup of tea.
Elsewhere in the world tea is also a drink among friends. In Morocco, mint tea is offered as a welcoming beverage when you enter someone’s house. In Korea, their tea ceremony is a ritual that often incorporates family and friends' life celebrations. In fact, the ceremony is so important in their culture that throughout the country, Korea holds children’s tea ceremony competitions. The competitions foster a love of tea, and a love of sharing tea to others, in the youngest of Korean tea drinkers.
Agape Love and Tea
Throughout the centuries tea has been a comforting calm offered in a serving and sacrificial manner. Japanese Tea Master Sen No Rikyu would offer tea to Samurai warriors before battle to aid in a sense of calmness. In North Platte, Nebraska during World War II soldiers would transfer through, by train, to other parts of the United States before shipping out overseas. Numerous townsfolk would stand on the platform of the train depot and serve coffee, tea, and cookies to the soldiers before they departed to the far reaches of the world. The Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies are constantly ready with a hot beverage, including tea, during crisis filled times. When I fix a cup of tea for my mother on a day where the winter wind and weather affect almost every bone, joint and muscle in her body, she feels the radiant heat, experiences the calmness and cherishes the love with which the cup of tea was prepared. These are all examples of selfless giving through a cup of tea.
Eros Love and Tea
There are two famous historical weddings that include tea. The first famous wedding occurred during the Tang Dynasty in China (618-907 AD). Princess Wen Ching (641 AD), a Tang Dynasty princess, was to wed the Tibetan king Songtsan Gamboling. Tea was among her items that Princess Wen Ching brought with her from Sichuan, China to her new home in Tibet. Incidentally the marriage serendipitously helped start the famous trading of horses for tea between Tibet and China. Thus later developing the famous Tea Horse Road trading route from China into Tibet.
Fast forward centuries, where another famous wedding occurred that involved love and tea. In 1662 AD a Portuguese Princess was to wed a king. Catherine of Braganza married King Charles II of England. In her dowry that she brought with her was a chest of tea. The Queen arrived in England well versed in the art of drinking tea. Her love of tea was shared with her new found friends, family and country.
Love Of Tea and Tea Things
Much time, energy, motivation and money has been allocated globally, and through the centuries, to encompass the love of tea. Tea accoutrements, tea furniture, and clipper ships for trading are all displays of the love of the tea beverage. Buildings and edifices devoted to serving and selling tea, tea fashions, and food served with tea also show the immense societal love of tea that is international. All around the world tea has been, and continues to be, a much loved beverage.
In closing I leave you with this one question. During this month of love that Valentine’s Day encapsulates, who can you show love to by way of a cup of tea?
About the Author
Leslie Sundberg is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Specialist, a World Tea Academy Apprentice Tea Sommelier, a Specialty Tea Institute Level IV trained Tea Specialist, and a Tea and Business Etiquette Specialist. On any given day, Leslie can be found teaching, speaking or sharing in the joys of a cup of tea. No matter what Leslie is doing or where she is, one thing remains constant: 4:00 in the afternoon is tea time!