The Little Tea Book By Arthur Gray
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The Little Tea Book, compiled and written by Arthur Gray, is timeless gem to have around your tea table. It is full of memorable tea stories, culture, history and quotes.



Written and compiled by Arthur Gray in 1903, this delightful tea companion is still as amusing and relevant as when it was written 100 years ago.

A few later editions of The Little Tea Book are still circulating on Amazon.com. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to discover much about the author himself.

Who was credited for making the tea beverage popular in the West?

After all, it is an Oriental drink. No other foreign culture has ever been so deeply embraced by the West as the tea beverage in such a short period of time.

According to Arthur, the answer is women. And there is strong affinity between the two!

Tea and Women

"The tea beverage is one of peace, comfort, and refinement."

"As these qualities are all associated with the ways of women, it is to them, therefore--the real rulers of the world--that tea owes its prestige and vogue."

The Little Tea book clearly illustrates the intimate relationship between tea and women:

"As most of the poetry and philosophy of tea-drinking teem with female virtues, vanities, and whimsicalities, the inference is that, without women, tea would be nothing, and without tea, women would be stale, flat, and uninteresting. With them it is a polite, purring, soft, gentle, kind, sympathetic, delicious beverage."

"What better proof do we want, therefore, that women's influence is due to the cultivation and retention of the tea habit? Without tea, what would become of women, and without women and tea, what would become of our domestic literary men and matinee idols?"

"They would not sit at home or in salons and write and act things. There would be no homes to sit in, no salons or theatres to act in, and dramatic art would receive a blow from which it could not recover in a century, at least."

China Versus India

The debate on whether the earliest tea plants grew in China or India is a controversial one. Unlike many other contemporary, Arthur concluded China was the more logical and credible choice in the Little Tea Book:

"Although the legend credits the pious East Indian with the discovery of tea, there is no evidence extant that India is really the birthplace of the plant."

"Certain it is that China, first in many things, knew tea as soon as any nation of the world. The early Chinese were not only more progressive than other peoples, but linked with their progress were important researches, and invaluable discoveries, which the civilized world has long ago recognized. Then, why not add tea to the list?"

What elegance!

At that time, many people believed that the Indian native tea plant was the parent stock of Chinese tea plants. This is because wild tea trees were discovered in India's Assam region.

This is a tree growing to a height of 20 to 35 feet with a trunk 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Since Eastern China has no wild tea plant, India must grow the earliest tea!

They also believed that this native Indian tea tree migrated to China many years ago and evolved into the smaller, hardier Chinese varieties.

Modern Chinese scholars differ from this view. They reasoned the discovery of wild tea plants do not automatically mean that is the place of origin.

More recent studies have revealed that wild tea plants do exist in China's Southwestern provinces of Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunan, and unlike the Indian's regions, these primitive wild tea species exist in far greater concentration and varieties.

Wouldn't be logical to conclude that the earliest tea plants are more likely to emerge from a region where the most highly concentrated, numerous wild tea species are still to be found today?

Anyway, I am digressing ... let's return to The Little Tea Book...

Tea versus Coffee

Authur gave an amusing story comparing the different characters of tea versus coffee in the Little Tea Book:

"Coffee is a tonic; tea, a comfort."

"Coffee is prose; tea is poetry."

"Whoever thinks of taking coffee into a sick-room? Who doesn't think of taking in the comforting cup of tea?"

"Can the most vivid imagination picture the angels (above the stars) drinking coffee? No."

"Yet, if I were to show them to you over the teacups, you would not be surprised or shocked. Would you?"

"Not a bit of it. You would say:

"That's a very pretty picture. Pray, what are they talking about, or of whom are they talking?""

And here comes the killer shot:

"John Milton knew the delights of tea. He drank coffee during the composition of "Paradise Lost," and tea during the building of "Paradise Regained.""

Conclusion

The Little Book of Tea makes me smile with its naughty humours, laugh with casual neglect and occasionally muse over its practical wisdom. Here is one example:

"You don't want to become a tea drunkard, like Dr. Johnson, nor a coffee fiend, like Balzac."

"Be moderate in all things, and you are bound to be happy and live long."

"Moderation in eating, drinking, loving, hating, smoking, talking, acting, fighting, sleeping, walking, lending, borrowing, reading newspapers--in expressing opinions--even in bathing and praying--means long life and happiness."

PS: Currently selling at Amazon for $14.95, a download of the original edition of The Little Tea Book is now available FREE for newsletter subscribers. Offer available ONLY for a limited period of time.

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