(Roughly) Daily

“The effect of tea is cooling and as a beverage it is most suitable”*…

A gold statue of Lu Yu at Longjing tea plantation Hangzhou China

We think of tea as a drink– some of us, as the drink. But as Miranda Brown explains, for centuries tea was food; caffeinated soups and chewing the leaves were the norm…

Sometime in his adolescence, in the 700s, Lu Yu, an aspiring writer and professional clown, had his first taste of tea soup. This probably occurred not far from Lu’s childhood home: a Buddhist monastery that overlooked a scenic lake in Central China. But Lu was unimpressed; he called the soup “ditch water.”

What bothered Lu was not the tea, but all the other ingredients. The offending brew contained scallions, ginger, jujube dates, citrus peels, Dogwood berries, and mint, all of which cooks “threshed” together to make a smooth paste. The result was a chunky soup, or even a sauce.

Lu Yu, in fact, adored tea—he’d go on to become the “tea god” and the world’s greatest tea influencer. But the tea he loved—brewed only from powdered tea leaves, without any other flavoring—was, in the grand sweep of human history, a recent invention. People in Asia, where tea trees are native, ate tea leaves for centuries, perhaps even millennia, before ever thinking to drink it. And it is Lu Yu who is chiefly responsible for making tea drinking the norm for most people around the world…

The remarkable story of Lu Yu: “The Medieval Influencer Who Convinced the World to Drink Tea—Not Eat It,” from @Dong_Muda.

* Lu Yu


As we steep, we might send bubbly birthday greetings to the founding master of another class of potable: Johann Jacob Schweppe; he was born on this date in 1740.  A watchmaker and amateur scientist, he developed the first practical process for the manufacture of bottled carbonated mineral water, based on a process discovered by Joseph Priestley in 1767.  His company, Schweppes (later Cadbury Schweppes, now Keurig Dr Pepper) graciously acknowledges Priestley as “the father of our industry.”

Jacob Schweppe


Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 16, 2022 at 1:00 am

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