A Timeline of Tea History

Sorry I didn’t post Tuesday or Wednesday this week, my computer (with all my files) was teaching me patience and gratitude. Enjoy and have a wonderful #ThirstyThursday!!!

We’ve explained before the semantics of the naming of OG’s Red Tea product. While in the West we generally refer to the color of the tea leaves, and thus call it “black tea” — in China, Korea and Japan, the name refers to the color of the infused drink itself. So, that’s why what some people in Western countries think of as “black tea” is dubbed “red tea” at Rae’s Cafe.

Tea is believed to have been discovered completely by accident, way back in 2737 BC. It is said that Shen Nung, the second emperor of China, discovered tea when some leaves from a Camellia sinensis plant (the plant that all traditional teas are made from) blew into his pot of boiling water. The habit of drinking tea leaves steeped in a tea pot didn’t become popular until during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Here’s a timeline that traces the long and storied history of the beverage that is so popular today — from that first accidental leaf right through to the first tea bag.

2737 B.C.

According to legend, the second emperor of China, Shen Nung, discovers tea when tea leaves blow into his boiling water.

A.D. 350

A Chinese dictionary cites tea for the first time as Erh Ya.

400

Demand for tea as a medicinal drink rises in China, and it is begun to be cultivated and processed.

479

Turkish traders begin to trade for tea from Mongolia.

593

Japanese priests studying in China carry tea seeds and leaves back to Japan. It is rare and expensive and is consumed mostly by high priests and the aristocracy.

725

The Chinese give tea its own character, ch’a.

780

The first book of tea, titled Ch’a Ching (The Classic of Tea), is written. It discusses ancient tea cultivation and preparation techniques.

1280

After the Mongols take over China, tea loses its aristocratic status and becomes more popular among the masses.

1368-1644

After the fall of the Ming Dynasty with the Mongol takeover, all teas (black, green, and oolong) are easily accessible in China. Steeping whole tea leaves in cups or teapots becomes more popular.

1422-1502

Zen priest Murata Shuko creates the Japanese tea ceremony and calls it cha-no-yu (hot water tea). It celebrates the mundane aspects of everyday life. Tea becomes more than just an art form and almost a religion.

1589

Europeans are exposed to tea when a Venetian author claims that Asians live so long because of their tea consumption.

1597

Tea appears for the first time in an English translation of Dutch explorer Jan Hugo van Linschoten’s papers. He refers to tea as chaa.

1610

The Dutch bring back green tea from Japan (though some scholars say it was actually from China). The Dutch East India Company markets tea as a medicinal drink, though only the very rich can afford it.

1618

Chinese ambassadors present the Russian Czar Alexis with chests of tea. He refuses it as being useless.

1657

The first tea is sold in London, England, at Garraway’s Coffee House, as a health beverage.

1662

England’s King Charles II’s new bride, Catherine Braganza of Portugal, is an avid tea drinker and helps make tea more popular and accessible.

1690

The first tea is sold publicly in Massachusetts.

1717

Thomas Twining transforms Tom’s Coffee House into the “Golden Lyon, the first tea shop in England.

1773

In what is known as the Boston Tea Party, a group of Massachusetts colonists dumped several hundred chests of tea into Boston Harbor to protest taxes on tea.

1840

Anna the Duchess of Bedford introduces afternoon tea.

1856

Tea is planted in and around Darjeeling, India.

1876

Thomas Johnstone Lipton opens his first shop in Glasgow, Scotland.

1904

Englishman Richard Blechynden invents iced tea during a heat wave at the St. Louis World’s Fair.

1908

New Yorker Thomas Sullivan invents tea bags when he sends tea to clients in small silk bags and they mistakenly steep the whole bag.

Rae's Red Tea

Aztec Hot Chocolate History

People tend to think of hot chocolate as a warm, comforting drink, one served up to small children on a cold night. But it was once revered as a great tonic for warriors, who needed energy and sustenance to tackle challenges such as big battles or arduous journeys. In fact, hot chocolate has a history as rich and colorful as the drink itself.

Here are some fun facts about the history of hot chocolate in ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures:

  • The first chocolate beverage is believed to have been created by the Mayan people of around 2,000 years ago, and a cocoa beverage was an essential part of Aztec culture by 1400 AD.
  • An early Classic (460-480 AD) period Mayan tomb from the site of Rio Azul, Guatemala, was found to contain vessels bearing the Mayan glyph for cacao, and the vessels contained the residue of a chocolate drink.
  • In ancient Mesoamerica, the cacao drink, known as “xocolātl” was considered sacred and was used during initiation ceremonies, funerals, and marriages. During this time, cacao beans were also used as currency.
  • Montezuma II, the last ruler of the Aztec empire, was said to have kept a huge storehouse of cacao, and to have drunk up to 50 golden goblets of chocolate a day.
  • Montezuma II is also said to have decreed that only men who went to war were to imbibe the precious cacao drink, and thus cacao became a regular part of military rations.
  • During the battles between Montezuma II’s forces and the Spanish conquistadors who invaded Mexico under the rule of Conquistador Hernán Cortés, it was noted that the Aztec’s chocolate drink helped to fortify and energize the men, as one Spanish observer noted: “This drink is the healthiest thing, and the greatest sustenance of anything you could drink in the world, because he who drinks a cup of this liquid, no matter how far he walks, can go a whole day without eating anything else.”
  • After defeating Montezuma’s warriors and demanding that the Aztec nobles hand over their valuables, Cortés returned to Spain in 1528, bringing cocoa beans and chocolate drink making equipment.Drinking chocolate or hot chocolate soon became popular amongst the elite in Spain, and then spread across the rest of Europe.

So, it seems we have the ancient Aztecs and their precious cacao beans to thank for the delicacy we know today as hot chocolate. And while the modern version — particularly the tasty Rae’s Gourmet Hot Chocolate that’s also infused with Ganoderma lucidum — may be a lot more refined than its ancient predecessor, it certainly remains a powerful elixir, and one that we have happily added to our beverage repertoire.

Untitled design (41)

It’s Easy Being Green

One of the most famous “greenies” of all time, the inimitable Kermit the Frog, was mistaken when he said, “It’s not easy being green.” At Organo Gold, we are proud of our green concepts and products. And we’re not just talking about our refreshing organic green tea here, either!

We take our environmental impact very seriously. And we also take the quality of our ingredients, and the quality of our renowned products, very seriously. Especially when Rae’s Cafe has so many products that are consumed with the customer’s well being in mind — such as our:

All of these products are certified organic by Ecocert, the global certification body for sustainable development. This means, according to the Ecocert Canada standards, that they are made with a minimum of 70-95% of organic ingredients.

Often times, particularly with sensitive ingredients such as green tea and Ganoderma, cheaper, non-organic products use inferior ingredients that are farmed and harvested without Organo Gold’s strict standards. Which means it’s possible for toxic chemicals to leech into the plants or mushrooms. Which really flies in the face of taking the positive step to take nutritional supplements or drink antioxidant-rich organic green tea.

Untitled design (48)

The Two C’s of New World History

On March 15, 1493, Christopher Columbus returned to Spain after his first voyage to the New World. The 2 C’s could be considered to be Christopher Columbus, the explorer renowned for “discovering” North America and many other places in the New World. But, according to many, there are two other significant C’s in America — Coffee and Chocolate!

And the two are linked by more than just alliteration. When Christopher Columbus first sailed that ocean blue (as the rhyme goes) in 1492, he traveled to the so-called New World at the behest of the Queen of Spain. And two of the precious items he brought back to Europe? You guessed it: coffee and cacao beans.

Here’s a lowdown on some of the history that links Christopher Columbus with two of the Americas’ favorite treats — coffee and chocolate:

  • The introduction of coffee beans to the Americas is often attributed to Columbus, as it is thought that he carried coffee beans on one of his voyages to the New World.
  • Columbus is also often credited with bringing chocolate, by way of cacao beans, back to Europe and then on to the rest of the world.
  • Columbus is believed to have “discovered” cocoa beans in around 1502, when he and his crew appropriated the cargo of a native Mayan trading ship, near what is now known as Honduras.
  • Apparently Columbus assumed that the beans were some kind of almond. But, sensing the value placed upon these mysterious legumes, he took them.

So, what lesson can we take from this? Well, one thing’s for sure. We’d like to thank Columbus for that initial transportation of the magical beans behind coffee and chocolate. We guess we have him to thank, in a round-about way, for one of our favorite products — the Cafe Mocha. And we can bet he would have been a big fan of one of the best — the BrewKup™  in Chocolate Almond.  

Untitled design (43)

Thanks A Latte

The Gourmet Cafe Latte, in its golden yellow box, is one of our top-selling products. The luxurious drink blends the smooth flavor of Italian-style coffee with the creaminess of frothed milk. It’s a drink that seems somehow decadent, yet, with the added bonus of Ganoderama, is more like a little burst of flavor with benefits.

Did you know that in general the latte is a relatively new phenomenon? Let’s do a little LATTE 101:

  • latte is simply a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk.
  • The English word is an abbreviated version of the Italian term “caffè latte” which means “coffee milk”.
  • In Italian, “latte” literally means milk, so ordering a “latte” in Italy will get the customer a glass of milk.
  • In English-speaking countries “latte” evolved as an abbreviation for “caffe latte”, the Italian term which is similar to the French café au lait and the Spanish café con leche.
  • Historically, coffee and milk have been part of European cuisine since the 17th century. It is primarily Europeans who added milk to coffee, as no record of milk was found in coffee pre-1600 in Turkey or in the Arab world.
  • According to the Oxford English Dictionary,the term “caffè latte” was first used in English in 1867 by writer William Dean Howells in his essay “Italian Journeys”.
  • The contemporary popularity of the latte has spawned the creation of what has been dubbed “latte art” which is increasingly common everywhere where espresso coffee drinks are popular, such as North America, Europe, Australia and beyond. Created by pouring steaming, frothed milk into the coffee, that liquid is introduced into the beverage in such a way that patterns are distinguishable on the top of coffee.
  • The Gourmet Cafe Latte was one of OG’s original products!

Untitled design (42)

My Black Coffee Confessions

Today, let’s devote this article to one of the simplest pleasures in the world — a cup of strong black coffee. With Rae’s Café and Organo Gold, there’s more than one option for lovers of strong black coffee — a flavor that true coffee-lovers appreciate.

Gourmet Black Coffee

Fans of this great product can experience the aroma of freshly brewed coffee as soon as they tear open their sachet of OG Gourmet Black Coffee. Then comes the flavor, which is robust and smooth, for black coffee perfection.

Premium Gourmet King of Coffee 

Connoisseurs adore the aroma and flavor of this luxurious product. Organo Gold select only the finest organic beans to produce this bold, flavorful coffee. We like to think of it as a “necessary daily luxury” we can enjoy any time.

Premium Gourmet Royal Brewed

This delectable coffee comes straight from the famed blue mountains of Jamaica — a region renowned for its premium coffee. In Jamaica, the beans are hand-sorted to ensure only the finest coffee makes it into this fresh, fruity, flavorful blend, for a rich flavor that is second to none. This is a brew-it-yourself blend truly fit for royalty.

Keep (1)

5 Reasons to Smile

“I love smiling. Smiling’s my favorite.” So said comedian Will Ferrel as the jubilant (if out-of-place) Elf in the film of the same name. If you type the words “Smile song lyrics” into Google search, the results are about 52,200,000.

Clearly, smiling is a lot of people’s favorite. Even people who have lost their sight or who have never seen a smile, do it in response to pleasure, humor or just pure joy. New parents can always recall the first time they saw their newborn child crack one of those gummy smiles. Even some animals appear to smile — the internet features thousands of videos of dogs, cats, dolphins and other critters seemingly grinning with glee.

Not everyone enjoys a good smile. Why? Maybe they don’t like the gap between their front teeth, or they’re embarrassed about their not-so pearly whites. As a result, some people – sadly – spend their entire lives covering or even stifling their smile.

We’d like to help put a smile on the face of everyone, so here are our 5 Top Tips on how to ensure your smile stays as bright and white and gorgeous as possible:

  1. Always brush your teeth between meals.
  2. Try to floss daily, as your dentist always advises. The trick is to find the flossing product of method that works best for you– it’s always easier to stick to something you don’t mind doing.
  3. New habits take around 21 days to make– so if you haven’t flossed in years, try the 21 day test.
  4. Invest in a good toothbrush– electric is what most dental professionals recommend. But if you have sensitive gums or any issues, maybe a good non-electric toothbrush is right for you. Always ask your dentist or hygienist.
  5. Use a fluoride-free toothpaste. Rae’s Café features OG Smile– a natural alternative to your supermarket and drug store brands that contains no harmful additives.

OG Smile is a minty fresh toothpaste developed for the special care of teeth and gums. It features natural products that promote oral health and leave teeth whiter and breath fresher. It also contains Ganoderma powder, a prized ancient Chinese herbal remedy that is one of nature’s richest sources of beneficial antioxidants. In the words of Charlie Chaplin, in that famous tune, Smile:

Light up your face with gladness

Hide every trace of sadness

Although a tear, may be ever so near

That’s the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what’s the use of crying

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just smile.

Untitled design (39)

Red Tea- Rae’s Way

This revitalizing tea blends the finest organic red tea leaves with two ingredients long revered in China for their beneficial properties — our signature organic Ganoderma lucidum and Cordyceps militaris — for a cup of tea that is refreshing, uplifting and positively balancing.

When Organo Gold references “red tea”, we mean red tea in the traditional Asian terminology. You see, while in the West we refer to the color of the tea leaves, and thus call it “black tea” — in China, Korea and Japan, the characters that make up the literal words “red tea” refers to the color of the infused drink itself. So, that’s why what some people in Western countries think of as “black tea” is dubbed “red tea” in the Cafe family.

Another kind of red “tea”, or what is often known in the West as Rooibos tea, isn’t technically a tea, because it comes from an entirely different plant, the Aspalathus linearis or the red bush “Rooibos” plant from South Africa. This isn’t related at all to the traditional Camellia sinensis tea plant, and thus is technically a herbal tea, tisane or herbal infusion as opposed to a traditional “tea”.

One of our favorite recipes, using OG Organic Red Tea, is ideal for cool winter days — or can be served iced in warmer climates. We whip up a batch of OG Red Tea, then simply add a few slices of lemon, some lemon zest, a few sprigs of fresh mint and some freshly sliced or grated ginger root. The ginger, lemon and mint add a refreshing flavor, as well as adding nutrients and a bit of “zing”!

RECIPE: Zesty Red Tea

Serve warm in winter or iced in summer.

Ingredients:

4 sachets of OG Organic Red Tea

32 oz. water

(or 8 oz. water for every sachet of red tea)

 Method:

  • Dissolve the sachets of OG Organic Red Tea in freshly boiled water.
  • Slice up fresh lemons, and zest some of the lemon rind.
  • Rinse sprigs of fresh mint in water, then slap or crush slightly with hands.
  • Peel a fresh ginger root and slice thinly or grate using a lemon zester or microplane grater.
  • Stir the lemon, lemon zest, mint, and ginger into the brewed tea.
  • Add a spoonful of your favorite honey (or if vegan you can substitute agave or brown rice syrup).

Untitled design (14)

5 Reasons to Go Green- Rae’s Organic Green Tea, that is!

Organo Gold’s Organic Green Tea is one of the Café’s most sought-after products. And there is a very good reason for that. Not only is it a deliciously healthy and refreshing beverage, it contains plenty of positive antioxidants and polyphenols, which have well-documented benefits. And in the case of green tea, we feel it’s always better if it happens organically!

  1. Organic products such as OG Organic Green Tea, are made using finest quality organically farmed green tea leaves. Non-organic or lower grade products can contain excessive levels of harmful chemicals such as fluorides and pesticides.
  2. Instead, Organo Gold’s flavorful organically grown green tea is packed with flavonoids and other antioxidants — plus our renowned organic Ganoderma lucidum mushroom.
  3. Green tea is less processed than black/red tea. It is considered to be the most “natural” of teas because it is made simply by steaming the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant in hot water — and was the only form of tea for centuries before black/red (fermented) and oolong (semi-fermented) were developed some thousands of years later. So, the better the raw ingredient, the healthier the end product. That’s why we only use organically grown green tea in our OG products.
  4. Gaining organic certification is a lengthy process, and can also be costly. Which means only companies passionate about their product and its use in a healthy modern lifestyle tend to seek an organic stamp. Thus, an organic label can be a good marker of high quality, great tasting tea.
  5. Simply the ceremonial history and nature of green tea is a calming ritual that can help you get into a more “Zen-like” zone. Zen Buddhism was the primary influence in the development of the tea ceremony, and it originated in 6th century China. Back then, everything was unofficially “organic”!

And with OG Organic Green Tea’s addition of the renowned organic Ganoderma lucidum mushroom — it’s a truly invigorating and organic experience.

Untitled design (7)

More Fun Facts About Coffee in the Americas

For all you fact fanatics-here’s more information about coffee and the America’s. Although coffee beans and brewing originated in the Middle East it quickly spread to the far reaches of the world. Coffee is not just a popular drink, but a popular crop in the Americas, where much of the area had a climate that was ideal for the beans to thrive.

Here are 15 Fun Facts about the history of coffee in the Americas, from South and Central America and the Caribbean right up through to North America and Hawaii.

  • Hawaii is the only US state that produces coffee commercially.
  • The United States imports more than $4 billion dollars’ worth of coffee each year.
  • New Yorkers drink almost 7 times more coffee than other cities in the US.
  • Coffee first made its way to the Caribbean around 1720, when naval commander Gabriel de Clieu brought coffee seedlings to the island of Martinique.
  • Those sprouts flourished and 50 years later there were over 18,500 coffee trees in Martinique — enabling the spread of coffee cultivation to Haiti, Mexico and other nearby islands in the Caribbean.
  • In around 1727, the King of Portugal sent an emissary to French Guinea to obtain coffee seeds to become a part of the coffee market. The King’s emissary is said to have initially had difficulty obtaining these seeds, but after charming the French Governor’s wife, she sent him enough seeds and shoots to start up a coffee industry in Brazil.
  • In 1893, the coffee from Brazil was introduced back into Kenya and Tanzania, not far from its place of origin in Ethiopia 600 years prior — ending the energetic bean’s transcontinental journey.
  • In the 1930s Brazil took off as major producer of coffee, and now produces around a third of the world’s coffee beans.
  • Coffee represents 75% of all the caffeine consumed in the United States.
  • The first webcam was invented at The University of Cambridge to let people know whether or not the coffee pot was full.
  • Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day, equivalent to 146 billion cups of coffee per year, making the United States one of the leading consumers of coffee in the world.
  • The average American worker spends approximately $20 on coffee per week — be it lattes, roasted beans or pods for their at home espresso machine.
  • Seattle has 10 times more coffee stores per 100,000 residents than the United States has overall.
  • When coffee was first introduced in America, it was not as popularly received as it had been in Europe. Some scholars believe coffee’s popularity grew during the Revolutionary War, as tea became more and more difficult to obtain from British merchants.
  • If ever offered a “Cowboy Coffee” — politely decline! According to legend, cowboys used to make coffee by putting ground coffee in a clean sock and dunking it in cold water. They’d then heat it over the campfire, and pour the liquid into tin cups when it was ready to drink.

Untitled design