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Tea & Coffee Essay

2070 words - 9 pages

The importance of tea and coffee in the emergence of a globalized world
Every morning, as we wake up, the first thing we do is get ourselves that steaming hot cup of tea or coffee. People go up to even say that they cannot even function without their morning cuppa. These beverages have a compulsory spot in every kitchen, for the simple reason that everyone needs more than wants caffeine in their day. People feel rejuvenated, alert and ready to face the challenges that everyday life poses. Even Rudyard Kipling had to say about tea:

“We had a kettle; we let it leak:

Our not repairing made it worse.

We haven't had any tea for a week ...view middle of the document...

The bottom is out of the Universe.”[1]

...view middle of the document...

[3] It is said that the Emperor felt a warm feeling pass through his body as he drank the brew and said that he felt “as if the liquid was investigating every part of his body.” [4] The Emperor Shen Nung decided to name the brew "ch'a", the Chinese character meaning “to check or investigate”. In 200 B.C., a Han Dynasty Emperor decided that tea would be referred to by writing a special character that illustrated wooden branches, grass, and a man between the two. This written character was also pronounced "ch'a". It symbolized the balance that tea brought in human life.[5]

The 4th to 8th century saw a great growth spurt for tea. It was now used for more than medicinal purposes and began to be enjoyed even recreationally for pleasure and refreshment. There were more and more tea plantations across the country and all that dealt in the crop ended up rich! Upto the mid-17th century though, all tea was green. When this tea was fermented, people realized that the resultant black tea could hold the aroma longer and was stronger than the mild green teas. This also meant that they could export these teas as they would not lose their aromas and flavor on the journey. Thus, with the advent of foreign trade, black tea was discovered and was a huge success.

Role of Tea in Globalization

From the start, tea spread from China to different countries such as Tibet, Japan, Russia and Europe. In all these countries, tea has its own space in medicine, culture and status. In Tibet, tea was used as a currency. In Japan, a special Tea Ceremony was created. It is now a very integral part of Japanese lifestyle. Tea is served with every meal and served while greeting guests. In Russia, the Trans-Siberian Railway was constructed to help transport tea. In Europe, tea is treated as a status symbol. Tea based traditions such as “Afternoon Tea” and “High Tea” were also said to be created in Europe. While one is more of a light refreshment, the second is an entire meal.

Until 1678, tea trade was dominated by the Dutch. But post that, the British began to import tea on a commercial basis and that created a completely new scenario. The British Royal family wished to seek full control and profits over trade. In order to do this, they built the East India Company. Their main motive to do this was to grant it monopoly on all trade throughout Asia and Eastern Africa. As we know, the East India Company grew rapidly and very quickly became the most powerful monopoly in the world. Tea was its primary commodity. Due to this, the East India Company was given many rights. These included: “right to acquire territory, coin money, keep armies and forts, punish lawbreakers, form foreign alliances, and even declare war.”[6]

This strong ruling of the East India Company went on for years. it was challenged when the British Parliament opened trade routes to competition in 1833. However, centuries of dominance ensured that there were many...

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