the agony of tea: a history of tea

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A brief history book highlighting the controversial and interesting facts about tea. The Agony of Tea is a 55 page book with the controversial facts and myths. Most photos were taken from internet sources, the book "Book of Tea", and 10 photos are of my own. Cover is a screenprinted cotton bag Inside pgs are handmade tea paper 7in x 11in Printed on 70lb Domtar Cream 1 pg is tissue paper 3 pgs are fold out


  • A H I S T O R Y I N T E A

    The Agony of


  • An Introduction


    A Mysterious Infusion


    Instruments of His Crime


    Camellia sinensis


    The First Cup is for Your Enemies


    What a Tea Situation


    Chemically Delicious


  • introduction i

  • introduction ii

    t h e e p i c n a t u r e o f t e a h a s m a d e i t t o b e

    s o d i f f i c u l t t o w r i t e a b o u t . i t c o n t a i n s

    s o m a n y c u l t u r a l l a y e r s w i t h i n t h e

    c h i n e s e c u l t u r e a n d p o l i t i c a l s t r a n d s

    i n e u r o p e t h a t i t h a s b e c o m e o n e o f t h e

    m o s t i n t r i g u i n g t o p i c s f o r h i s t o r i a n s ,

    s c i e n t i s t s , o r p o e t s t o s h e d l i g h t o n . i t i s

    o n e o f t h e m o s t p o p u l a r b e v e r a g e s i n t h e

    w o r l d a n d s t i l l h a s a m y s t e r i o u s q u a l i t y

    t o i t s h i s t o r y .

  • a m y s t e r i o u s i n f u s i o n

  • Most legends involving storiesare just stories

    a mysterious infusion 1

  • Whether or not we choose to believe them is up to us and to declipher what is true and what is not.However, we do know Emperor Qi Wudi receiveda large amount of tea offerings when he died.

    a mysterious infusion 2

  • Nonetheless, till this day, tea is used by some Chinese as a gift to the dead - a ball of red paper with a tea leaf between the dead persons lips. Chinese are known for their wild legends, even the twelve zodiac animals is one we still believe might help set up some romantic dating match between a horse and a dog. In the same way, some legends consider tea to be from China. It is possible the origins were from China, but it is believed to have come from India first. Some legends say the em-peror Shennung found tea when leaves fell in his cup of boiling water, while some legends have Buddha introducing tea instead.

    it s origins

    a mysterious infusion 4

  • No one knows how the tea bush came about, but tea coming from China or India is a known fact. Kan-lu , a Chinese scholar, went to India to study Buddhism and brought back seven tea plants and planted them on a mountain in Szechwan, which is in India.

    If the story is true, it makes the origins from India instead of China like most speculated. Villagers that live in that area are evi-dence of tea evolving from India. The indigenous ways of making tea, not only as a beverage, but as a chewing snack with oils, salt, garlic, sesame, or mixed fish or animal fats are still used in those geographic areas. In William Ukers 1935 treatise, the existence of tea can be found in hilly regions of northeastern India, Southern China, Northern Laos, Myanmar (now Burma) and Thailand.

  • Between 273 and 2698 BC

  • The Divine Farmer happened to be sitting outside on a windy sunny day. A gust of wind landed a few tea leaves from the tea bush nearby into his boiling cup of water. He tasted it and found it so refreshing and aromatic. According to Chinas daily life neccessities. There are seven: wood, oil, rice, soy sauce, vinegar, and tea is one of seven. So, another claim is the aroma of the-burning tea bush he was using for fuel lead him to the possibility of making tea.

    emperor shen nung is known to have brewed the first cup of tea

    a mysterious infusion 8

  • another version is where shen nung or

    villagers fall ill and he tried out 75

    different herbs

  • The only one to cure him was the tea leaf. Another is having a whole village ill from eating wild herbs they picked. Shen Nung is of course the first agriculturalist and discovered the medicinal properties by testing out various concoctions. He may just not have existed like Robin Hood, but the origins of how he came

    upon tea is highly debatable.

  • i n s t r u m e n t s o f h i s c r i m e

  • Some myths about the origins of tea stemfrom Buddhism.

    his crime 11

  • t h e i d e a o f s e l f - s a c r i f i c e a n d w a k e f u l n e s si s h i g h l i g h t e d i n t h i s e e r i e l e g e n d .

  • t e a i s s t r o n g l y i n t e g r a t e d i n t o a d a i l y m o n k s l i f e , a l l t h a n k s t o b o d h i d h a r m a , t h e f o u n d e r o f z e n .

  • This Indian prince is a mythological figure known to be painted and drawn with thick brows and a broad girth. He has influenced monks rituals with tea. Legend has him crossing the Yangtze river on a single bamboo reed. After he reached Luoyang, just in reaches of the Yellow river, he founded the Zen of Buddhism at Shaolin Temple, where he invented what is known today as Shaolin Kung Fu fighting.

    his crime 14

  • h e m e d i t a t e d f o r n i n e y e a r s u n t i l h i s s h a d o w s t u c k t o t h e w a l l .

    The version of the story in Engelbert Kaempfers History of Japan has the dharma sleeping for a long duration of his meditation.

    Once he awoke the next morning, full of Sorrow for breaking his solemn vow, he cut off both his eye-brows, those instruments of his crime, and with indignation threw them to the ground: Returning the next day to the same place, behold, out of his eye-brows were grown two beautiful tea scrubs. Darma eating some of the leaves, was presently filled with new joy, and strength to pursue his divine meditations.

    his crime 15

  • Another version is where his eyelashes fell into a cauldron and green leaves spontaneously grew.

    his crime 16

  • c a m e l i a s i n e n s i s

  • camelia sinensis 17

  • The beautiful mountain flowers received their name from G.J Camel, a Czech botantist who found 120 species of the same quality.

    all green , black , oolong, and white tea is derived from the same tea plant known as camellia s inensis .

    camelia sinensis 18

  • camelia sinensis 19

  • camelia sinensis 20

    A tea leaf has symmetrical shape of an ellipse with pointed ends, with a narrow stalk connected. The texture feels smooth and leathery. During the spring season, the white fra-grant flowers stem a few inches on top of the dark evergreen leaves as the stalk can grow up to 45 feet. The top tropic Southeast Asia and the valleys of the Himalaya mountains make the perfect cli-mate grounds for the famous tea plants.

  • camelia sinensis 21

    tea is plucked during spring and autumn, but spring is

    the best season because pu-rity is essential part of the

    strict harvesting produc-tion rules .

  • camelia sinensis 22

    Tea pluckers were mostly young girls, only virgins, and pure. Some wore gloves to not contaminate leaves. Even without gloves, they had to have fingernails at a certain length to be able to pluck the deli-cate young leaves from the top of the bush without touching them with their fingers.

    For 3 weeks, their diet consisted of no garlic, onion, spices, or any foods with strong odors to avoid contaimination with their breaths.

  • Emperors were unaware of the blackened hands or the perennially sore fingers of the young tea pluckers. Emperors were unaware of the blackened hands or the perennially sore fingers of the young tea pluckers, who never even dreamt of tasting imperial tea.

  • The only emperopr who did care was Hui-tsung who ruled the Middle Kingdom. He put art before politics which lead to his kingdom being taken over by nomadic tribes. He ended up being exiled and died. Had he been exiled at a tea plantation, he might have brewed white dragon brains and discussed tea with the tea pluckers.

  • The rare

    picked by

    teas were

  • camelia sinensis 26

    The rare

    picked by

    teas the tall tea trees from the

    wild where plucked by mon-

    keys . monkeys scrambled

    up the trees , 30-40 ft tall ,

    and the people provoked

    them by throwing stones

    at them. in realiation,

    the monkeys tore off tree

    branches and threw them

    back at people .


  • t h e f i r s t c u p i sf o r y o u r e n e m i e s

  • Foreign traders had been prevented from trading directly to Chinese supplies by difficulties of language. Any Chinamen caught teaching any Chinese language to a barbarian could be executed. Westerners had to rely on interpreters. But theseinterpreters often had a less than perfect command of English or any other Euro language in use in Canton.

    your enemies 28

  • v i o l e n c e b r o k e

    b e t w e e n f o r e i g n e r s

    a n d w e s t e r n e r s a l l t h e

    t i m e . t h e c h i n e s e w o u l d

    b u r n d u t c h , g r e e k , a n d

    e n g l i s h f a c t o r i e s .

    t h e f a m o u s e n g l i s h

    m e r c h a n t c h a r l e s

    c o m p t o n w a s n o t o r i o u s

    f o r b e a t i n g h i s f a c t o r y

    w o r k e r s . i n r e s p o n s e ,

    t h e c h i n e s e b u r n e d

    d o w n h i s f a c t o r y w h i l e

    c h a n t i n g ,

    your enemies 29

  • kill the foreign devils!

  • 172 9

    the Chinese government courtordered opium to be banned

  • 1840

    Opium wars

  • Somehow, it kept being smuggled into the country through mountain routes. The Chinese court held the foreigners acountable for the opium and held an enc