With dropping temperatures and falling leaves, fall is the perfect time to cozy up with your favorite book and a hot cup of tea. Whether you are a long-time tea enthusiast or just beginning to explore the world of tea, check out our Time for Tea program at the Callaway County Public Library on Thursday, November 8 from 1:30-3:00 p.m. This program will be hosted by tea enthusiast Alex Moore and will include tea, treats and an afternoon of learning about tea.
Tea has a long and complex history. The origins of the popular drink can be traced back to legends from China and India. The Chinese legend tells the story of Emperor Shen Nong who accidentally discovered tea when a leaf from the wild tea tree fell into a pot of water he was boiling in his garden. After this happy accident occurred, the Emperor enjoyed the infusion so much that he began to investigate the plant and discovered its medicinal properties. According to the Indian legend, tea was discovered by Prince Bodhi-Dharma, the founder of what would later be called Buddhism. While Prince Bodhi-Dharma was meditating, he fell into a deep sleep and when he woke up he cut off his eyelids and a tea tree sprung up from the ground where they fell.
Legends aside, the age old tradition of sipping tea has also been found in the archaeological record. Some of the earliest evidence for tea consumption has been found in two tombs in the city of Xi’an. The tombs date to the Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), making the tea over 2,000 years old! Even older remains of tea leaves were found in the tomb of Jing Di who died in 141 BC. Archaeologists used a technology called mass spectroscopy to determine that leaves in a wooden box were indeed tea.
Interested in learning more about tea? Check out these titles about the wildly popular beverage! For a fun journey through the history of tea, check out “Tea: The Drink that Changed the World” by Laura C. Martin. From the Tang Dynasty of China to the Buddhist tea ceremonies of Korea to the Sri Lankan tea plantations, this book discusses how tea spread around the world. You might also want to check out “The True History of Tea” by Victor H. Mair, which will take you through the expansion of tea from the jungles of southeast Asia to Medieval Japan, to Morocco.
One of the wonderful things about tea is that there are so many different varieties and flavors to try. If you want to learn more about the variety that tea has to offer, you might want to peruse “The Tea Cyclopedia: A Celebration of the World’s Favorite Drink“. And tea is not just for drinking! In her book “Green Tea: 50 Hot Drinks, Cool Quenchers, and Sweet and Savory Treats“, Mary Lou Heiss uses green tea to create unique flavors of smoothies, salmon, and even ice cream.
If you can’t get enough of tea time, or you missed the November program, check out the second session on December 13th which will focus on tea for holiday gift-giving ideas and more!