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vmescher
02-25-2009, 12:07 PM
Since there seemed to be some interest in tea bricks and Earl Gray tea I thought I would start a new thread rather than have the post lost in the muddle of camp food.

I’m not saying that I am the ultimate expert on tea but I have spent a number of year researching the tea and have a considerable file with numerous primary sources on tea in the 18th and 19th centuries. I agree that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I’m not basing my research on opinions but on documentation. I would welcome anyone to share their primary documentation on brick tea, Earl Gray tea and on anything else that is contrary to my research. I’m always willing to learn from others.

It would take up too much of the forum’s space to post all my primary documentation on tea bricks but here is a sampling of what I have. To begin with, I’ll summerize information about brick tea and then the primary documentation follows.

Tea bricks seem to have taken on a life of their own. Yes, they are interesting to see and make a good story about being easy to transport and that was their purpose for overland transport from China to the interior destinations of Tibet, Mongolia and parts of Russia. The bricks could be packed in containers and easily carried by camel, another beast of burden or even a man. Tea for ocean transport was packed in lead lined tea chests so that the moisture would not cause the tea to deteriorate.

Brick tea (like the ones we see) was made from tea dust, black tea powder and the floor sweepings, mixed with ox blood and then compressed under a great amount of pressure. To make the drink, a piece has to be hacked off, shaved into smaller pieces, boiled with yak butter, mutton fat or some type of butter, milk, salt, sugar, and sometimes grain. In all the instructions for preparing tea in 18th and 19th century British and American references, there is nothing that mentions anything resembling this process. Even if the tea was made in the western manner there still should have been something about how to get the bricks ready for brewing; there is nothing about how to deal with a very hard brick of tea either has to be sawn or hacked with hatchet to break into smaller chunks and the smaller chunks shaved into usable tea. The references discuss every other aspect of tea preparation, tea service, tea equipage, and tea types so why is there no mention of preparing tea bricks?

There are a number of Chinese illustrations that show how tea was processed an packed for shipping and nothing is shown about making or packing brick tea. To make brick tea requires a great deal of pressure to make it into the hard brick we can obtain today. In addition, brick tea is not the only kind of compressed tea and that is where it gets even more confusing. Tablet tea
(small tablets of tea wrapped in silver paper), caper tea (20 to 30 pound round balls of tea) and purhea tea (aged tea) are all examples of compressed tea that may have been brought back to England or the United States as a novelty but they were not a western world export of China.

Some people have indicated that brick tea was one of the teas was thrown overboard at the Boston Tea Party. Maybe at one time, that might have been told but when I contacted the Boston Tea Party Museum, they told me that they had no documentation that any brick tea was in the cargo of the three ships in Boston Harbor. The teas listed in the ships’ manifests were all loose teas (bohea, congou, souchong (black teas) and hyson, hyson skins, and singlo (green teas) ).

Now for my primary sources on brick tea or the lack thereof in the western world.

The area of Russia that brick tea was popular in the Kiachta area which is
In Eastern Siberia and in the southern provinces of _kirpitchnoi_. "Brick tea is nearly all shipped to Russia. Probably very few people out of China know what brick tea is. It is the refuse and powder of various kinds of tea worked up with blood into cakes looking like bricks. It is very cheap, and sold at six taels per picul. A tale is $1.33; a picul is 133 pounds." _New Haven Palladium_ August 13, 1864 and _Godey's_ July 1860 (southern provinces . . )

"They prepare this beverage [tea] by boiling the brick tea, sometimes by adding to it a lump of mutton fat, at other times a little roasted barley, or a handful of salt in a cauldron, . . . and filling it out in wooden cups, drink it almost boiling hot." _Scientific American_ "Tea Drinking
Amongst the Kalumcs." August 25, 1849

I also found this quote in _Tropical Agriculture_ (1889). "The allusions to the manufacture of brick tea in the English language are exceedingly rare." (From a much longer section on brick-tea)

There is a singular article of tea in use throughout Central Asia, among the Mongols, Tartars, &c., which is called the Brick Tea of Thibet, and is formed of the refuse tea-leaves and sweepings of the granaries, damped and pressed into a mould with a little bullock's blood. The finer parts are packed in papers, and the coarser in sheep-skin...."Tea--Its Culture and
Commerce", _DeBow's Review_ by J.D.B. DeBow, August 1860

“The youngest and earliest leaves are the most tender and delicate, and give the highest flavoured tea. The second and third gatherings are more bitter and woody, and yield less soluble matter to water. The refuse and decayed leaves and twigs are pressed into moulds and sold under the name of brick tea. These bricks are often made harder by mixing the leaves with the serum of sheep and ox blood. This inferior variety is chiefly consumed in northern China and Thibet.” _The Chemistry of Common Life_ by J. F. W. Johnston, 1856

Paul Calloway shared this quote with me. “Tea bricks, for example. which are sold by the million pounds all over Central Asia, never appear in the trade of the United States. Should the average tea dealer see a close-packed, darkgreen block, hard on the surface and marked in gold with Chinese characters, he would scarely recognize it as tea.”
_Freeborn County Standard_ July 12, 1893

The above are only a few of the primary sources I have on brick tea but none of them refer to brick tea being import into the United States or Britain in the 1860s.

Earl Gray tea was named for the Earl Charles Gray, a popular British Prime minister from 1830 to 1834. I found one pre-1900 reference to Earl Gray tea (also known as the “Royal Mixture” or Earl Gray’s Mixture). It was in an 1891 issue of the _Daily Inter Ocean._ The earliest British advertisement I found for the tea was in 1919 in the _London Times_ and the first American advertisement was in 1934 in the _New York Times._ All the stories about Earl Gray and the tea are different and none of them seem to match up with the dates he was prime minister. Some indicate he saved a mandarin’s son but the earl never traveled to China. There is even an argument between two tea companies as to who was the first to introduce the tea and the dates and stories different also. If it was such a popular tea, why isn’t there any mention of it in British or American newspapers until the late 19th century? In my opinion it was a tea just named after a popular man.

As for Indian teas (Assam, Darjeeling) and also Ceylon tea are not really period either. The Indian tea culture was just beginning in the late 1830s and was not profitable until the 1850s but very little was being exported in relation to the China tea exports. Maybe a little Assam tea was found in Britain (the first advertisement found for Assam in Britain was in 1854) but there is little evidence that Assam tea was a large import for the United States. The Darjeeling Tea Company was not established until 1860 and it took quite awhile before they were exporting tea in any great quantity. Tea was not grown in Ceylon until 1867 and it was not sold in London until 1873.

There are plenty of teas that are period without having to resort to teas that are not correct for the period . Most good tea shops or online tea shops have good loose black and green teas. You may have to search but these teas are good and worth the search. Look for bohea, congou, hyson, gunpowder, lapsang souchong, pekoe, orange pekoe, jasmine, rose, oolong, and English Breakfast.

I know that most teas look alike in the cup but you will know what is correct or not and if a spectator asks you will be able to give them a correct answer. There are many people who are very insistent that everything else about their impression be accurate (uniform and clothing inside and out, weapons down to the last screw and finish, and tents,) so why shouldn’t the food be just as correct. Yes, the gun and uniform are exciting but not something spectators see in their everyday lives but food is the common thread that can tie everything together.

People ask why food is so important in an impression. Spectators can really relate to food because it is easy to compare; “we eat — they ate.” It is a way to start up a conversation when you are cooking your meal or just sitting drinking from your cup. It may not seem like much but it does make an impression that the spectator, especially a child, can take home with them and something they remember when they go the grocery store and see a food that “the Civil War soldier ate.”

Silas
02-25-2009, 01:11 PM
After a "d__n the research, I'll do as I like" response in another thread, I was expecting a revealing post like this. It almost makes me want to start drinking tea instead of coffee.

Almost.

tompritchett
02-25-2009, 01:47 PM
Since there seemed to be some interest in tea bricks and Earl Gray tea I thought I would start a new thread rather than have the post lost in the muddle of camp food.

Thank you very much. I was expecting that I might have to move a bunch of posts out of the original thread to generate a new one. Your starting a new thread rather than continuing the chain of discussion there saved me from having to do that. Again, I am most appreciative.

2nd_mi_johnny
02-25-2009, 02:12 PM
Thank you for the very imformative and helpfull artical on this matter. The reason I wanted to know about tea is because it is much easier to carry in a poke and prepair then taking Green beans, then roasting them, THEN Grounding them, which is ANOTHER piece of bulky equipment you have to carry (The coffee grinder) or you can live dangerously and do the whole camp knife and stone method. Again thank you for this. I will look into these teas.

hiplainsyank
02-25-2009, 02:21 PM
As far as coffee beans go, you could have them pre-roasted before going off for the weekend. And the butt end of a bayonet works great to grind the beans in your tin cup.

I purchased a tea tin from Old Sturbridge Village for my sister, which was about 6-8" tall and shaped a bit like a cocktail shaker. Assuming that with a quality place like OSB it is patterned off one from the 1830s, people used loose tea.

Virginia, how did people steep their tea? Did they use tea balls or just steep it loose, like soldiers boiled their coffee in their cups?

vmescher
02-25-2009, 03:09 PM
I purchased a tea tin from Old Sturbridge Village for my sister, which was about 6-8" tall and shaped a bit like a cocktail shaker. Assuming that with a quality place like OSB it is patterned off one from the 1830s, people used loose tea.

Virginia, how did people steep their tea? Did they use tea balls or just steep it loose, like soldiers boiled their coffee in their cups?

The tea canisters are still appropriate for our time period. Those are only one shape that they came in but the ones with large openings are called tea caddies and the ones with small openings are called tea canisters. There are illustrations of both in my article that appeared in _Civil War Historian._

In looking at the tea equipage sold in stores and the mentions in books, tea balls were not in common use. There is one reference in the _Military Hand Book & Soldier's Manual of Information_ that gave instructions for making tea for eighty men and suggested that the loose tea be placed in a fine net bag or a large perforated ball.

In the 18th century they used mote spoons to strain the tea from the pot to the cup. If the tea was not strained, when it was steeped and it sunk to the bottom of the pot and very few leaves escaped when poured from the pot. At home, tea was steeped in on pot and then transferred to another pot for serving so there was really no need for tea balls. If the tea was strained, small tea strainers were used but again they were not common items and a solider probably would not have not had one.

Craig L Barry
02-25-2009, 05:33 PM
about this subject off and on for a couple years, and my thoughts on the subject at this point in time is that Virginia Mescher is correct on the hard compressed bricks that you need a bandsaw to cut through not being the type of tea enjoyed here during the mid-19th century. I have gone back and forth on the notion of tea bricks as there seems to be evidence in support of them, (see Wikipedia page on the Boston Tea Party, John Adams refers to tea bricks and so on) and they would certainly be easier to ship and carry tea in the compressed brick form. However, history is somewhat unclear about exactly what might have been meant by brick tea. Loose tea is seen in pics from China w/ the leaves being tightly packed into lined boxes for shipping. If it were not packed in this way, the tea would be ruined by exposure to the sea air during transit. And I think this is where the confusion may come in. I know the term brick tea was not clear to me. Having not been exposed to brick tea in the sense of the Trans-Siberian camel transported compressed brick tea used in Mongolia to mix with milk, it is easy to understand how tea tightly compressed in a lined box could well resemble a "brick". Two different forms of tea without a uniform or agreed terminology in other words.

Yes enjoy a good cup of tea around the campfire, it was an part of the rations until it became scarce in the South or ran out. No tea bags, though...

Craig L Barry
02-26-2009, 12:16 AM
...states, just to further confuse things, that "by the nineteenth century tea drinking had spread throughout the Russian provinces...but only the very wealthy could afford leaf tea, while coarse brick tea was consumed by the general population." (Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide by Hiess & Heiss). So the Russians used primarily brick tea for general consumption. There are period accounts (one in Mary Chesnut's diary) of civilians enjoying "Russian Tea" made in the Russian style (samovar) in Richmond, VA early in the war. So what were the ladies drinking that they called Russian Tea? Brick tea or loose leaf tea made in a samovar? What does Russian tea mean? You will find definitions of Russian tea that refer to brick tea, but what did Mary Chesnut mean?

Then there is the article "Some Thoughts on the China, Tea and Coffee Trade in the American Colonies During the Colonial Period" by Lee H Humphrey. In it he states "Brick tea was known and available to the European buyers at Canton." This is where the distinction between compressed loose leaf tea into a brick like form v. the plywood consistency Central Chinese dust, twig and floor sweepings "brick tea" gets most confusing. One is not sure who is referring to what kind of tea when the term is used. Yes the Cantonese pressed loose leaf tea into brick like forms...but this was not brick tea that requires a bandsaw to cut through.

This much is sure...even though you will find accounts of "brick tea" being dumped in Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party, it is almost certainly NOT the dense plywood stuff used in Mongolia/Tibet for currency and decorated with embossed symbols. Why? Because that tea was noted as floating on the surface of the Harbor still packed in tea crates. The Central Chinese rock hard tea bricks (as opposed to what is was mostly likely...leaf tea pressed into a brick) does not float. Try it. That stuff sinks like a rock. It is hard to say definitely about this confusing bit of nineteenth century foodways trivia but Virginia is right on the money, and it is likely a case of terminology mix-up.

Phil
02-26-2009, 12:24 AM
The tea in tea bags is a very low grade as well as the bags themselves being inauthentic. Do yourself a favor and find some real loose leaf tea before tearing open a bunch of tea bags into a poke sack before your next event.

I've got some good books on tea, and I'll see if I can find anything that relates to this discussion in them.

pvt_jb
02-26-2009, 08:28 AM
"THEN Grounding them, which is ANOTHER piece of bulky equipment you have to carry (The coffee grinder) or you can live dangerously and do the whole camp knife and stone method."

Put the roasted beans in a poke sack. Smash the poke sack between two logs, two rocks, or a log and a rock. It is easy, efficient, works well, no mess, quick, and not dangerous.

Sorry, don't want to hijack.

Back to our regularly schedule (and fascinating) program on tea........

Craig L Barry
02-26-2009, 09:49 AM
It seems not everyone finds tea as fascinating as Mrs Mescher and I do...

Hoffy
02-26-2009, 09:56 AM
I'll chime in about being interested-
I was just doing a little brick tea show and tell last night in fact.

vmescher
02-26-2009, 12:24 PM
I’m not recommending doing research using Wikipedia but since Mr. Barry mentioned it as his source for brick tea, I decided to take a look. Maybe I’m missing something but I couldn’t find anything about tea bricks in the Wikipedia’s Boston Tea Party at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Tea_Party. I then did a search for brick tea and found the Wikipedia site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compressed_tea which led me to the Wikipedia site for pu-erh tea at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pu-erh. . None of the sites mentioned brick tea at the Boston Tea party.

I’m not advocating the use of secondary sources, I did some research on pu-erh tea; I did not find any mention of the tea in any primary source from 1773 to 1870. This tea, as other types of compressed teas, have been produced in China since before the 14th century. Pu-erh tea, which is aged as much as 50 years, can be produced in many different shapes and in various forms but most are wrapped in paper. As far as I can tell by reading secondary sources on tea, they were exclusively consumed in China until the 20th century. I could not find any primary documentation indicating that any westerns wrote about drinking these unique teas. If someone has any other information, please let me know.

I checked out a number of references to John Adams’ papers and could not find any mentions of tea bricks. I have read the book, _Traits of a Tea Party: Memoirs of George Hawes_ (1835) [one of several published memoirs of a participant in the original tea party] and he mentioned tea dust from the chest, men picking up tea leaves from the decks of the ships and putting them in their pockets, masses of tea leaves on the water, men beating the tea on the surface of the water, and tea being trampled into the [mud] flats. Compressed teas, even if they were waterlogged, don’t really match any of these descriptions. If they stayed in the water long enough, they would disintegrate and probably react like the other teas so how would anyone know that they had been a compressed tea?

Some compressed teas were made by the worker taking a large amount of tea and forming it into a large ball with his feet and then the tea was dried again. This was called a “caper ball.” Other compressed teas were formed into large, flat disks, smaller balls all wrapped in paper, or smaller tablets wrapped in silver paper but these seemed to be for Chinese consumption.

If any form of brick or compressed tea was available in the 18th or 19th centuries, why didn’t the information about serving tea mention how to make this kind of tea? Even it was made in the western manner, one still had to deal with the compressed nature of the tea or the long loose stems of some of the pu-erh tea. Also, there was no mention of any types of tea being wrapped in papers, as was and is the common wrapping for the compressed teas.

In all the 19th century books and articles that I have read on tea, tea culture, tea manufacture and production, only occasionally have the compressed teas been mentioned and then just as a production technique. There were numerous descriptions of packing the tea chests with loose teas but nothing about how any of the compressed teas were packed for ocean shipping. We have comments about the novelty of the preparation of the hard brick tea but nothing about how the other compressed teas were prepared.

I did find some information about the weight of tea chests. They did have different weight so it was difficult to find a standard weight. According to _Convention of Her Majesty and the King of Denmark_ (1851) Bohea and Congou tea was packed in whole chests of 180 to 200 pounds Netherlands weight ( 270 plus to 300 plus pounds in avoirdupois - a Netherlands pound equals 1 pound 1 5/8 ounces avoirdupois ) and a half-chest weighed 55 Netherlands pounds or 88 plus pounds avoirdupois. I found the weight conversion in the _Encyclopedia of Practical Receipts and Processes_ by William **** (1858). Green tea chests usually weighed less because not as much tea was placed in the chest. One 1835 source indicated that some chests weighed as much as 320 pounds.

I agree that the chests needed to be tightly closed to protect the tea from the sea air and the lead lining did that. Tea chests were made of light weight wood and were lined with thin sheets of lead and then were lined with paper before the tea was placed in the chests. The dried tea was then packed into the chests by Chinese packers gently packing the tea into the chests with their feet. They did not stomp the tea into the chests or they would have broken the tea leaves. Green and oolong leaves were more delicate and could not stand being pressed as hard as the black tea so not as much pressure was applied so less tea was could be placed in the chest, thus a lighter weight in the chest.

There are many period illustrations, as well as Chinese paintings of how the tea was packed into the chests and none of them show bricks being placed in the chests. Gentle pressure from the feet would not make brick tea since brick tea had to be made from moist tea. Even in making the other compressed teas, such as caper tea, the tea needed to be moist to form the ball. Any tea packed into a chest had to be very dry or it would mold when the chest was closed.

In reply to Mr. Barry’s post on the article by Lee Humphrey at http://www.history1700s.com/articles/article1093.shtml. I went to the article at and found the following paragraph . “Bohea tea, pronounced Boo-hee (Ukers 510), was by far the most popular tea. It was so popular, that the word bohea became the slang term for tea. It consisted of the scrap tea, broken orange pekoe, pekoe, and souchong dumped in a pile and then sifted. The best was put in chests and the twigs, fannings and dust were used to make brick and tablet tea, all of which was used and sold under the generic name Bohea. The Cantonese preferred brick tea, therefore we know it was both known and available to the tea buyers at Canton.” There were no references for the information in this paragraph except for the one for the pronunciation of the Bohea. Most of the information in the entire paragraph is incorrect except for the pronunciation of Bohea. Bohea was the most popular tea because was the most affordable tea; it was from last picking of the tea leaves and was the lowest quality. The other teas were teas mentioned were of varying qualities; pekoe was from the first picking and was the highest quality but had a very delicate flavor. Souchong is from the second picking and was considered the finest quality of the strong black tea. ("Manufacture of Tea" _The Family Magazine_ 1836. ) It would be interesting to see where they found that information that Cantonese preferred brick tea but there was no reference to this statement. It may be that the brick tea was made there and then exported. Even if the statement referred to the loosely compressed forms of tea, they were not called “tea bricks” in any primary references but were called by their correct names. I agree that westerners knew that brick tea and compressed teas existed but they didn’t write about them being imported into the western world. Teas has specific names because the name meant quality and were listed as such in ship’s manifests, advertisements, and articles. Even in stores, the tea caddies were labeled with Bohea, Souchong, Congou, Hyson, Gunpowder, etc., so that the customer could purchase the type of tea she wanted. One would think that at least one primary reference would mention the name of these compressed teas on an article, manifest, advertisement or article if they were a common product. Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places.

vmescher
02-26-2009, 12:25 PM
As for Mr. Barry’s question about Mary Chestnut’s mention of tea in the Russian manner. She wrote, “They had champagne and Russian tea, the latter from a samovar made in Russia.” Below are two explanations on Russian tea.

"No one as lived in Russia without appreciating the benefits of the Russian tea-urn or _samovar_, which as not unlike the old English tea-urns in shape, but is heated with charcoal. When the tea-pot is placed on the top of the samovar, the strength of the tea is drawn off sooner and better than by any similar process with which we are familiar." _Vermont Chronicle_ "Manners, Customs, &c. in Russia" January 18, 1833.

"WE are all inclined to suppose that the orthodox flavoring of tea is milk and sugar (where cream is a myth); but the Russians, the greatest tea drinkers in the world, think otherwise.
There the samovar or tea urn, as we find by two recent clever letter-writers, is indispensable to a Russian household. . . . The beverage, black, green or yellow, is drank with sugar, but without cream, a slice of lemon being substituted, and the tea sipped by spoonfuls. . . .
The Russians drink their tea very weak, and the teapot is replenished with hot water by a native until a person accustomed to what is called tea in England or America begins to find the flavor of the lemon preponderate in his glass. . . . The samovar keeps the table well supplied with hot water. It is an urn with a charcoal fire at the bottom, the heat from which, passing through a tube in the centre, boils the water and heats the tea-pot which rests upon its top. It is as common in Russia as a tea-kettle in the United States, and is certainly an ingenious and useful contrivance.
The tea-houses here, like the bar-rooms in America, are of high and low degree. If you enter one of the better class, on the Nevskoi Prospect, you will find a large room, or series of rooms, with little tables, and invariably a picture of the Virgin and Child, or a saint, covered with a plate of gold or silver gilt, so as to leave only the face, hands and feet visible. If your companion be a Russian, he will bow low as he uncovers his head before it, and cross himself many times. Then you take your seat at one of the windows which look upon the street, and order your 'chi.' The waiter brings a portion of tea in a small teapot, a plentiful supply of hot water in another vessel, glasses instead of cups, some slices of lemon and lumps of sugar, . . . ." _Godey's_ July 1860

I’m apologize for taking up the forum’s time with these questions and observations but I’m just trying to understand Mr. Barry’s reasoning in bringing up Wikipedia and other secondary sources and not providing many primary sources. I’m just trying to explain my reasoning for not thinking that compressed tea was exported into the western world in the 18th and 19th centuries.

I’m interested in foods in general, not just tea but I’m most interested in getting correct information out to the public, not generating myths or “what someone else said.” Don’t just take my word for things, do your own research using PRIMARY sources and please share your findings.

Linda Trent
02-26-2009, 01:02 PM
I’m apologize for taking up the forum’s time with these questions and observations

Virginia, no need to apologize the information is great! Whether one drinks tea or coffee, or none of the above. Or whether one portrays civilian or military doesn't really matter. Each of our characters would all have entered stores and seen how these items were sold. It is something that we would just "know."

I found a British journal from the mid to late 18th century, but unfortunately they weren't worried about the Boston Massacre, or Tea Party, the first they perked up was Lexington and Concord. ;)


I’m most interested in getting correct information out to the public, not generating myths or “what someone else said.” Don’t just take my word for things, do your own research using PRIMARY sources and please share your findings.

Exactly!

Thanks again for a great discussion.

Linda.

Scooby_308
02-26-2009, 01:45 PM
Oops, sorry wrong thread.

Pvt Schnapps
02-26-2009, 02:50 PM
From the beginning of the war the army procured tea. A contract dated May 1, 1861 between Capt. W. W. Burns and James A. Frazer of Cincinnati provided for both black and green tea by the pound, the black at 25 cents per, the green at 53 cents.

The technique of using a sieve or large perforated ball is in Soyer's recipes, which are repeated in a number of places, including Woodward's manual for hospital stewards.

Since rations of tea could be substituted for those of coffee (act of August 3, 1861), the issuance of tea in brick form doesn't seem to have been envisioned.

As to coffee, by mid-war the army was procuring vast quantities of "prime roasted and ground Rio coffee" as evidenced by the trial of John K. Stetler for failing to fulfill a contract for same (reported in General Orders of the War Department for 1863). This was probably intended to reduce the wastage caused by having hundreds of thousands of caffeine-crazed teenagers attempting to roast and grind their own beans, but it did raise the issue of adulteration.

FWIW, John Henry Otto describes grinding beans in his cup using the hilt of his bayonet and implies that it was a well-established custom in the Prussian army. I've tried it and found it works pretty well, but it helps to practice and to have time.

Craig L Barry
02-27-2009, 11:40 AM
If there are primary sources, that is one great source of information if it is a reliable primary source. For example, Union soldiers claim their new 1861 Springfield rifle-musket will shoot through six feet of granite...What I would take from that primary source is that this Union soldier was mighty pleased with his new US 1861 rifle-musket. What someone else would take from it is that Springfield rifle muskets will shoot through six feet of granite. Looking in the right place is not going to help you analyze what is there. And in one hundred fifty years, no doubt researchers will look back on our periodicals, newspapers and first party testimonials as the gospels of our age. But I sure hope not...

As far as tea bricks, the wiki edited out that reference to tea bricks from their Boston Tea Party blurb, which was there a year or so ago. That was not the only source, though. I pointed out about a half dozen others in our various correspondence. This is a subject where brick tea and tea bricks are two different things. And russians document that they got their tea from china in tea bricks, but russian tea is made from loose leaf or both? In if it is not specified, the researcher concludes they really didn't get all that chinese tea in brick form, like the chinese exported it?

I am going to allow this much, I am sure you are right in what you have found...But all I can determine from all this is that there was a variety of tea in a variety of forms.

So moving on, what about gunpowder tea? Read recently that 2/3 of the tea exported to America was green gunpowder tea. I know Godey's has a receipt for tea from 1862 that provides a method for determining if your tea is actually tea or made from sloe leaf.

hanktrent
02-27-2009, 01:03 PM
If there are primary sources, that is one great source of information if it is a reliable primary source. For example, Union soldiers claim their new 1861 Springfield rifle-musket will shoot through six feet of granite...What I would take from that primary source is that this Union soldier was mighty pleased with his new US 1861 rifle-musket. What someone else would take from it is that Springfield rifle muskets will shoot through six feet of granite.

When using primary or secondary sources, of course one has to apply normal skepticism, and consider context, humor, bias, available knowledge, etc. Is anyone arguing that you shouldn't? The good, and bad, thing about primary sources, though, is that you get to draw your own conclusions directly, without them being filtered through the better or worse abilities of other modern people, but it's always an ongoing process as more evidence is explored.

If somebody insisted that rifle muskets could shoot through six feet of granite based on that quote, it would be easy to bring up evidence to the contrary in the form of other reports at the time, tests of surviving muskets, archaelogical evidence (bullets lodged in trees), and so forth. If somebody continued to insist it was true--well, it's a free country. People can believe in all kinds of silly things. cough*undergroundrailroadquilts*cough*


Looking in the right place is not going to help you analyze what is there. And in one hundred fifty years, no doubt researchers will look back on our periodicals, newspapers and first party testimonials as the gospels of our age. But I sure hope not...

But what else could they base their conclusions on? I mean, once everyone of a certain generation is dead, and as long as time travel is impossible, primary sources preserved in various forms and archaeological evidence are all we have left.

Published historians don't have any secret insight into the past, which skips over primary sources. We're all working from the only body of evidence that's left.


As far as tea bricks, the wiki edited out that reference to tea bricks from their Boston Tea Party blurb, which was there a year or so ago.

What a bummer. But at least you can just edit it back in and use it as a source again. That's the beauty of secondary sources. ;)

I don't have a whole lot on tea, not being a tea drinker myself and therefore not having looked into it much, but here's an article (http://books.google.com/books?id=E5wFAAAAQAAJ&pg=RA3-PA446&lr=&as_brr=0&as_pt=ALLTYPES&output=html) that might have some useful information about the period appearance and processing of some commercial teas, for those who know more what they're looking for. It's a description published in 1861 of the manufacture of tea in Assam, by someone who lived there for a while, and is excrutiatingly, frighteningly detailed.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

vmescher
02-27-2009, 01:54 PM
If there are primary sources, that is one great source of information if it is a reliable primary source. For example, Union soldiers claim their new 1861 Springfield rifle-musket will shoot through six feet of granite...What I would take from that primary source is that this Union soldier was mighty pleased with his new US 1861 rifle-musket. What someone else would take from it is that Springfield rifle muskets will shoot through six feet of granite. Looking in the right place is not going to help you analyze what is there. And in one hundred fifty years, no doubt researchers will look back on our periodicals, newspapers and first party testimonials as the gospels of our age. But I sure hope not...

As far as tea bricks, the wiki edited out that reference to tea bricks from their Boston Tea Party blurb, which was there a year or so ago. That was not the only source, though. I pointed out about a half dozen others in our various correspondence. This is a subject where brick tea and tea bricks are two different things. And russians document that they got their tea from china in tea bricks, but russian tea is made from loose leaf or both? In if it is not specified, the researcher concludes they really didn't get all that chinese tea in brick form, like the chinese exported it?

I am going to allow this much, I am sure you are right in what you have found...But all I can determine from all this is that there was a variety of tea in a variety of forms.

So moving on, what about gunpowder tea? Read recently that 2/3 of the tea exported to America was green gunpowder tea. I know Godey's has a receipt for tea from 1862 that provides a method for determining if your tea is actually tea or made from sloe leaf.

Of course all primary sources are not the gospel truth, especially when it come to obvious exaggerations or eyewitness accounts but when it concerns agricultural or mechanical processes such as how tea was grown and processed in the 19th century, I think we can trust 19th century primary sources. I’m not just relying on one person’s account but I have looked at numerous descriptions and listed some of them in the bibliography of my _Civil War Historian_ article.

You mentioned references you gave me in our previous correspondence and I went back over each one of our exchanges and found that I had addressed your references in my earlier posts in this thread; from my correspondence with the Boston Tea Party Museum to reading the accounts from George Hawes memoirs and other diaries and websites that you pointed out to me.
If the Wikipedia reference to tea bricks/Boston Tea Party was removed, there must have been a reason. I printed out the page in the link you gave me in your correspondence with me and I couldn't find any reference to them then.

Yes, the Russians got their tea from China since China was the main exporter of tea until the British introduced commercial tea growing into India in the 1830s. It was not until the1850s it became a financial viable concern and then only a small amount was exported. Some Russians did drink brick tea (the hard brick kind) but they were not the upper class Russians but Russian peasants. I included some references that described how the Russian tea was prepared in my previous post and nothing was mentioned about scraping a hard brick before preparing the tea. When you scrape the tea, it becomes dust and does not lend itself to being brewed in a tea pot like whole tea leaves.

Here is yet another description of how tea was prepared in the 19th century as described by Sarah Rice Pryor, in her book, _Reminisces of Peace and War._ “ Russian tea ? Why, certainly ! Do we ever care for other than Russian tea? She was deliberate. . . .
She lighted her silver lamp; and, although she wished us to see the great shining samovar which descended to her from her grandmother, she said it was good, very good indeed, in the camp or on journeys when one had only charcoal; but here in America the fairy lamp to light the wax taper and the alcohol burner beneath the kettle are best. She poured the water, which had bubbled, but not boiled (boiling water would make the tea flat), over delicious tea, paused a moment only, then poured the steaming amber upon two lumps of sugar, two slices of lemon, and one teaspoonful of rum, and we pronounced it a perfect cup of tea.” I doubt that the Russian lady visiting with General Mrs. Pryor was a Russian peasant. Tea dust would cloud a cup and not lend itself to be "steaming amber," which would seem to be a clear amber color.

Tea does come in many forms but those forms have specific names as do the different types of tea. When tea was being advertised, those specific names were used so the customer would know what the merchant had for sale.

I’d be interested in your sources for the “2/3 of all tea exported to America was green gunpowder tea.” I’m not disputing the fact but I’m just interested in the source. In looking at United States import tables from 1857 and 1865 the tea imports from China were listed in pounds of tea, without dividing up the different types of tea. In looking at _Historic Accounts_ I did find that in the three year period (1859-1861) that there were 35 sales of green tea and 13 sales of black tea. I did not total up the amount of each tea purchased but green tea being the more expensive ($2.00/# as opposed to $1.12/# for the black) was purchased in lesser amounts than the black.

Yes, there was a great deal of information about green tea being adulterated, not just gunpowder but hyson, young hyson, and hyson skin, and singlo. Apparently, when westerners saw the word, “green” associated with tea, they expected a green tinted beverage. They didn’t quite understand that “green” meant non-oxidized when it came to tea and thought a yellowish beverage was inferior. At one time, the Chinese, being clever businessmen, realized this, and decided to add some types of green coloring to the green tea. Later westerners understood that green coloring was not a good thing, then put up a hue and cry against adulterants in green tea. There were other ways to tamper with the tea. Some, less reputable, tea merchants would purchase used tea leaves from tea shops and rooms, dry them and sell the used tea leaves as new. In some cases, other less expensive leaves were used to cut the tea leaves but that would have been more difficult in the case of gunpowder since each leaf was hand-rolled into a small ball, thus the name, “gunpowder.”

vmescher
02-27-2009, 02:00 PM
I don't have a whole lot on tea, not being a tea drinker myself and therefore not having looked into it much, but here's an article (http://books.google.com/books?id=E5wFAAAAQAAJ&pg=RA3-PA446&lr=&as_brr=0&as_pt=ALLTYPES&output=html) that might have some useful information about the period appearance and processing of some commercial teas, for those who know more what they're looking for. It's a description published in 1861 of the manufacture of tea in Assam, by someone who lived there for a while, and is excrutiatingly, frighteningly detailed.

Hank Trent


Hank,

Thank you for putting up the link to that excellent article on the process of tea culture. I have many similar articles in my files and although this one is on tea production in India, the process was very similar to that in China.

Craig L Barry
02-27-2009, 03:17 PM
“Americans enjoyed gunpowder (tea) comprising nearly two-thirds of all of the tea imported to the states during the Civil War.” Ukra, Mark. Process: From Leaf to Green Tea, www.teagarden.com.

Just opening the dialog.

vmescher
02-27-2009, 03:41 PM
“Americans enjoyed gunpowder (tea) comprising nearly two-thirds of all of the tea imported to the states during the Civil War.” Ukra, Mark. Process: From Leaf to Green Tea, www.teagarden.com.

Just opening the dialog.

Thank you for providing your secondary source for the statement. While I don't disagree with the statement since I can't find statistics on the importation of black and green tea in the 1860s, I do wonder about the author's sources since he did not provide any endnotes for that particular information.

hanktrent
02-27-2009, 03:45 PM
I’d be interested in your sources for the “2/3 of all tea exported to America was green gunpowder tea.” I’m not disputing the fact but I’m just interested in the source. In looking at United States import tables from 1857 and 1865 the tea imports from China were listed in pounds of tea, without dividing up the different types of tea.

I'm too ignorant about tea to know whether all green tea is gunpowder tea, but this might be useful:


About one third of the tea imported into the United States is black and the remainder green, thus reversing the order in Great Britain, where the value of the black tea is much better understood. (p. 127, Tea--Its Culture and Commerce, DeBow's Review, J.D.B. DeBow, New Orleans, August 1860, vol. 28, issue 2)

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Craig L Barry
02-27-2009, 03:56 PM
Gunpowder (rolling it into little balls) was a method of processing unfermented green tea for shipment. The smaller in diameter the better the tea, the rationale goes something like this: “The larger the size of the pellet, the looser the roll, the looser the roll, the larger the leaf. The larger the leaf, the lower the leaf position is on the branch, the lower the leaf position, the older the leaf; the older the leaf, the harsher the flavor and the harsher the flavor, the less expensive the tea. The less expensive the tea, the more common the tea is.” (same source)

You can disagree with the 1/3 black 2/3 green figures cited if you like, but it seems widely acknowledged that green tea predominated in antebellum America. Mostly Chinese prior to 1860, post-bellum Japanese green tea started to become more widely imported. Point being, you are not going to find a primary source for everything (though they are very helpful when available) but it does not make the statement necessarily less accurate. For example, supporting documentation helps with secondary sources. I would consider Godey's as supporting period documentation because their receipt (recipe) for brewing tea is given for green tea as though that were the obviously most common tea. And further makes the distinction of how to tell the real green tea leaves from sloe leaves. Guess what? The chinese also made bricks out of compressed pu-erh, a green tea. But let's not go into all that again...

vmescher
02-27-2009, 03:59 PM
[SIZE=2]I'm too ignorant about tea to know whether all green tea is gunpowder tea, but this might be useful:

Hank Trent


Thanks Hank for your primary source. I knew there must be something out there but I've been so busy lately that I haven't had time to devote to concentrated tea research. I've only had time to go through my existing files. I always appreciate adding to the files and my knowledge.

No, all green tea is not gunpowder tea but all gunpowder tea is green. Other green teas are hyson, young hyson, hyson skin, and singlo just to name a few. All teas, black, green and yellow (oolongs) come from the same plant; it is just the time they are picked and the processing that determines what kind of tea they are.

Pvt Schnapps
02-27-2009, 04:11 PM
I wonder what kind of green tea the army bought -- the contract info I saw didn't specify. I also kind of wonder why, if Americans drank more green tea, it was twice as expensive. Maybe since so much more coffee was drunk, only the more finicky drank tea, and they went for the higher priced stuff. It's curious.

Craig L Barry
02-27-2009, 04:24 PM
The Steamship Kate run the blockade, but then ran into a snag in Cape Fear. The goods got wet and were sold as could be salvaged. The Confederate Government obtained from the Kate about 10,000 blankets; and a large quantity of flannel. The following quotations will tell their own story: “…tobacco, dark and light, 57 c to 97 c per lb; spice, 25 to 26c per lb; cloves, 20 to 22 c per lb; Congou tea, 6 to 6.50 per lb; Oolong tea, 7.50 per lb; gunpowder tea, 11 per lb…” The gunpowder tea was the most expensive item on board, if those prices are right.

However, two or three little pellets of gunpowder tea were all that was needed to brew a cup of green tea. Added to hot water the pellets unfold into much larger tea leaves.

Oolong is somewhere between a green and a black tea, and Congou is a black tea.

Linda Trent
02-27-2009, 04:32 PM
Understanding things in context is the key. If one understands the context of the time and place they're reading about and then reads that a soldier claimed he could shoot through granite with his gun, than one would understand that that's like the "fish that got away story." On the other hand, if one reads literally hundreds of different sources and does not find reference to a subject it can be assumed that the odds are that it's at the very least rare.

Just like the military puts years of research into guns, uniforms, and the like. Many civilians do the same with foodways. It's not that we look at four or five different sources and then make our conclusions. We study dozens of period cookbooks, diaries, store ledgers, store receipts (when the store purchased the item), ships' logs, newspapers, and much more. Understanding the full context of the era and the specific time and place helps us to draw our conclusions.

I became fascinated with this topic of brick tea so I decided to try a quick look up in a few different sources. I did an entire search of the Mystic Seaport online texts that include many ships' logs, diaries, journals, etc. and concentrates heavily upon maritime stuff, and found nothing for "brick tea," or "tea bricks."

I thought I had something in the Brooklyn Eagle, but it ended up being a building "with a brick tea room or kitchen..."

Since I have a subscription to Ancestry.com I decided to do a quick search of all the papers to see what came up when I entered "brick tea." I got 466 hits, most of the hits were in the last decade of the 19th and into the early 20th century, and most were only curiousities, and talking as though people were unfamiliar with this tea. The only brick tea in America that I've found to date is in Alaska in the 1900. That was in the Fort Wayne Sentinel, May 19th.

Most hits were more like the following from the Reno Evening Gazette Jan. 19, 1900.


"Russians Fond of Tea." It goes on to describe "brick tea." The "Russian people are the poorest in existence -- use the so-called 'brick' tea. This is the cheapest sort, being mixed with the stems and compressed by some adhesive gum into dry cakes of various sizes, resembling in its appearance 'plug' tobacco. This tea, which would probably prove poisonous to anyone else, is consumed by the Russian workingman at the average rate of about 20 stakan (or tumblers) a day, the Russian stakan being equal to five of the little thimbles of cups used in America at afternoon teas."

The way they talk about it makes it seem as though this is some sort of strange thing, not something that the majority of their readers would be familiar with. Granted these are post war, but they're still showing that people were unfamiliar enough with the concept that it had to be described.

Dunno, if anyone wishes to add their thoughts, I'm open. :o

Linda.

hanktrent
02-27-2009, 04:48 PM
Point being, you are not going to find a primary source for everything (though they are very helpful when available) but it does not make the statement necessarily less accurate.

If it's a question of import-export figures, though, you darn sure can. Tariffs were too big an issue to let things just slip in and out of ports. Here's the results of about ten minutes work. Imagine what a day or two and a good library could turn up. :p

Pounds of black and green teas (http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA327&dq=gunpowder+hyson+tea+imported+date:1855-1870&lr=&id=uMNPAAAAMAAJ&as_brr=0&as_pt=ALLTYPES&output=html) exported from China to the U.S., by year, 1854-1861. Also includes figures for Great Britain and some additional discussion.

Teas imported (http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA379&dq=gunpowder+hyson+tea+imported+date:0-1870&lr=&id=uqspAAAAYAAJ&as_brr=0&as_pt=ALLTYPES&output=html) and exported into the U.S. from 1821 -1832, broken down into five different types. For what it's worth, in that time period, the green teas predominated similar to what DeBow's Review reported in 1860, but "gunpowder, imperial, &c." made up only a small fraction of the green teas, and therefore was only about a tenth or less of all teas imported.

But when you look at the export figures, we were keeping less of the gunpowder tea than other teas. So when exports are subtracted, gunpowder tea made up even less, only about 1/25 of all the tea that remained in the U.S.

Though those figures are for the 1820s and early 1830s, I'm sure one could find the figures for the following decades. Foreign trade and this kind of record keeping was a Big Thing.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Pvt Schnapps
02-27-2009, 05:16 PM
Not to digress, but I couldn't help but notice the following when I ran across the January 1862 North American Review article titled "The Adulterations of Food":

"It is difficult to make exhausted tea-leaves resume their
former curled state. This is done by steeping them in a solu-
tion of gum; and sulphate of iron is added to deepen the
color. Logwood and talc, or China clay, are used to give a
bloom, and, worst of all, many black teas are faced with plum-
bago, or black-lead, which reduces the cup of tea to the same
chemical constitution as stove-polish. Lie tea is a falsification
composed of tea-dust, or fragments of other leaves, stuck to-
gether with gum, and glazed and colored with more or less
unwholesome pigments. This is used to mix with other teas.
Dr. Hoskins is convinced of its use in this country, from
having seen chests of it in tea warehouses in New York. It
is made often elsewhere than in China. It appears from Dr.
Hassall’s analyses, that the common Congous and Souchongs
are more genuine than the fancy and scented teas, as Pekoe,
Caper, and other varieties. Of 35 samples of black tea, 12
were adulterated with black-lead, indigo, turmeric, and tea-
dust. The fabrication of spurious black tea is extensively
carried on in London."

One of the many inadvisable ways to achieve authenticity would thus seem to include the enjoyment of a nice hot cup of stove-polish around the camp fire. :)

I wonder if "lie tea" is the same as brick tea.

hanktrent
02-27-2009, 05:44 PM
One of the many inadvisable ways to achieve authenticity would thus seem to include the enjoyment of a nice hot cup of stove-polish around the camp fire. :)

If you read all the stuff on food adulteration, it starts looking like pure things, almost by definition, are farby. :p


I wonder if "lie tea" is the same as brick tea.

I've seen the phrase a lot, and I think the idea was to mimic more expensive teas, so however it may have started out when being internally shipped in the east and however much it may have paralleled the poor quality of brick tea, by the time it reached the west, it was combined or packaged to appear like other normal teas.


...they even manufacture a spurious article, which they call themselves lie tea, and so brand the chest containing it, made up of the dust of tea and other leaves, and sand, which by means of starch or gum they cause to cohere in little masses; these they paint and color with great skill to imitate either black or green gunpowder tea. Source (http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA326&dq=%22lie+tea%22+imitate+date:0-1865&lr=&id=uMNPAAAAMAAJ&as_brr=0&as_pt=ALLTYPES&output=html)

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Mint Julep
02-28-2009, 09:56 AM
Thank you for the very imformative and helpfull artical on this matter. The reason I wanted to know about tea is because it is much easier to carry in a poke and prepair then taking Green beans, then roasting them, THEN Grounding them, which is ANOTHER piece of bulky equipment you have to carry (The coffee grinder) or you can live dangerously and do the whole camp knife and stone method. Again thank you for this. I will look into these teas.

Not to interrupt the tea party, because it is most entertaining and informative, but I would like to take a moment to point out that not ALL coffee issued to the soldiers was green or in bean form. Also, not ALL soldiers ground the beans prior to boiling. There is plenty of information about what was being issued and how it was being prepared in soldier's diaries and journals.

And I have never heard of a "camp knife and stone thing". If you must grind your coffee beans, dump them in the boiler, drop a piece of cloth over them and apply the socket end of the bayonet.

Or start drinking tea, which is what I did several years ago. It is much quicker and simpler. You will never see a man grinding tea leaves around the fire.

Artyman
02-28-2009, 12:07 PM
I have the little teapot my wife's Great Grampa carried in ACW. He was on the Union side. It is a small pot, tapered, tin, with a hinged lid, stands on an alchol stand/tripod heater thing. Very high quality workmanship. It was carried in a small sectioned wooden box. One chamber for the stand, one for the pot, one for the steeper (a tin ball with holes in it suspended from a chain), a slot that I think used to have a spoon in it, and a copper lined section that held the tea, with a smaller compartment inside the larger copper section that has sugar residue. There was a tight fitting lid over the copper box.

Unfortunately, in the estate settlement I only got the tea pot and stand/heater part. The box went to another relative who has since died, but not before her kid (wife's cousin) destroyed the box using it for Girl Scout camping trips. She wanted the pot too, but I never let it go.

His name was, oddly enough, Thomas Jackson! On her mother's side of the family. Supposed to be a direct line to Andrew Jackson, but never proven to me. He was in an Ohio unit, and toted this tea kit during his tour of duty.

So, I know at least one guy drank tea!

Harry

Linda Trent
02-28-2009, 12:09 PM
The dried tea was then packed into the chests by Chinese packers gently packing the tea into the chests with their feet.

Do you mean like this? :rolleyes: Tea Growing in India. New York Times, March 23, 1862 talking primarily about black tea, but this gives a detailed account of how tea was packed in the crates.


"... that which passes through the first, i.e., the fine sieve, is the best or finest quality of tea. What remains is then put into a coarser sieve, giving the second quality; a still coarser sieve gives the third, and so on. It is then taken and subjected to a final drying, and immediately packed in the lead-lined boxes, pressed very close (nothing so good as the natives' feet for this, I believe!) then soldered up to be looked upon no more till it turns up behind the merchants' counter, and is dished out by the polite clerks, to become the delightful beverage of 'fair women and brave men' in far-off Western lands."

This is the kind of documentation that I expect when I go to secondary sources. It's what was expected of me in high school and college when I wrote term papers, and it's what I expect from those who make claims on websites.

Linda.

mmescher
02-28-2009, 12:10 PM
First, I wanted to thank Hank Trent for his links to the statistics on exports and imports of tea.



However, two or three little pellets of gunpowder tea were all that was needed to brew a cup of green tea. Added to hot water the pellets unfold into much larger tea leaves.



I was a bit curious about the instructions to use three bits of gunpowder tea. The amount of tea seemed a bit weak. To try it out, we got some gunpowder tea.

I’m learning how to insert pictures so hopefully the images come through alright. So if they are missing, I'll try some other method.

The first picture shows three rolled leaves of gunpowder tea (Twinings). They came in a variety of sizes so we chose a representative sample. The Temple of Heaven brand from the Peoples’ Republic of China had even smaller particles.

http://i160.photobucket.com/albums/t161/vmescher/tea/gunpowder_dry.jpg

The next picture shows the three rolled leaves steeped for 10 minutes (see period instructions below). The leaves did unfurl and were an amazingly large size considering what they looked like as dry rolled pieces. They would have been good for fortune-telling! The picture actually seems a bit darker than the actual tea when viewed in the cup.

http://i160.photobucket.com/albums/t161/vmescher/tea/gunpowder_10min_3bits.jpg

This next picture shows a “large cup-full” (see period instructions again) of water with a heaping teaspoon of tea, steeped for 10 minutes. I used a flash to try and show the color better. The leaves had been filtered out.

http://i160.photobucket.com/albums/t161/vmescher/tea/gunpowder_10min_tsp.jpg

The final image shows both teas with milk added. The one with three rolled leaves is on the left.

http://i160.photobucket.com/albums/t161/vmescher/tea/gunpowder_10min_w_milk.jpg

And now for the taste.

The tea made from three rolled leaves did have a very faint flavor of tea but so mild that it was only a step or two removed from the taste of boiled water. When sugar and milk were added, I thought you might just as well save the tea and drink boiled water with sugar and milk.

The cup of tea made with the teaspoon of tea had the color of regular brewed tea. It tasted like normal tea and, when sugar and milk were added, it still retained the tea flavor.

When checking directions for making tea, I found the following instructions for brewing green tea in Miss Leslie’s 1851 cookbook, _Miss Leslie’s Directions for Cookery_:

“It is a good rule to allow two heaping tea-spoonfuls of tea to a large cup-full of water, or two teaspoonfuls for each grown person that is to drink tea, and one spoonful extra. The pot being twice scalded, put in the tea, and pour on the water about ten minutes before you want to fill the cups, that it may have time to draw or infuse.”

The following is from _Mrs. Hill’s New Cook Book_ (1870):

“Use for one teacup [approx 6 fl ounces in a teacup] and a half of water a heaped teaspoon of tea, this is a good proportion if the tea is strong and good.”

Both books recommended using a larger quantity of black tea than of green per cup or pot “as it is of a much weaker nature.” (Miss Leslie).

So those are my findings using the instructions in the post versus period instructions. What was the source of the “3 pellets”?

If anyone is interested in seeing what different tea leaves look like dry and brewed and what the brewed beverages look like, there are some excellent modern books written by Jane Pettigrew. Their titles all include “The Tea Companion” as part of the title. These portray modern tea so the period shapes may have been different, i.e., they might have been larger or smaller, and some teas aren’t correct for our period. However, they do have an abundance of Chinese teas.

And since coffee slipped into this discussion, I always ground my beans by leaving them in their poke sack and crushing them with the plate on butt of my musket. It takes care of those soldiers who had lost their bayonet. (If we want to discuss coffee, should we start a new thread for that beverage?)

Michael Mescher

Pvt Schnapps
02-28-2009, 02:44 PM
Not to interrupt the tea party, because it is most entertaining and informative, but I would like to take a moment to point out that not ALL coffee issued to the soldiers was green or in bean form. Also, not ALL soldiers ground the beans prior to boiling. There is plenty of information about what was being issued and how it was being prepared in soldier's diaries and journals.

And I have never heard of a "camp knife and stone thing". If you must grind your coffee beans, dump them in the boiler, drop a piece of cloth over them and apply the socket end of the bayonet.

Or start drinking tea, which is what I did several years ago. It is much quicker and simpler. You will never see a man grinding tea leaves around the fire.

I mentioned ground coffee in post #17 but it is definitely worth repeating. From the quantities purchased, I would think most of the coffee issued by '63 was already roasted and ground, unless it was in essence form. When grinding beans, I've just used the bayonet hilt without an intervening cloth, but the cloth does sound more like "safe grinding." :)

tompritchett
03-01-2009, 02:53 PM
(If we want to discuss coffee, should we start a new thread for that beverage?)

I would second that recommendation.