On Wines, their Origin, Nature, Analysis, and Uses;
with Special Reference to a new Alcoholic Drink made from Tea.
“Now, in conclusion, I must say a word about the long array of bottles you see before you, which contain a variety of new liquids. They were made at the insistence of a friend of mine, Mr. Adam Scott, who has been long connected with China. Some time ago, there was a great depression in the tea trade; an enormous amount of tea was accumulating in the London docks, and the merchants did not know what to do with it. I said I would try and see whether some drink could not be made from it; and Mr. Scott sent me several varieties of tea, such as Congou, orange flavoured Pekoe, Kaisow, Oolong, and a variety of other fine teas. They were tried one after the other. Decoctions were made, sugar was added, and a certain amount of yeast, and fermentation began. By adding more or less of one or the other – more tea, more sugar, or different kinds of sugar – we were ultimately successful in producing what you see before you, six varieties of wine, which are open to inspection and taste. Nos. 3 and 4 are natural tea wine, with nothing added but sugar, and the yeast to ferment the tea, the samples before you being about a year old. There are two varieties, one being made from orange Pekoe, the other flavoured with Oolong. Each gallon contains the extract from ½ lb. of tea. Nos. 3a and 4a have had a little alcohol added, and whereas the natural wine contains 9 per cent of alcohol, these contain about 11 percent. This was done to suit the taste of some persons who thought the other was not strong enough. Then again, others said this is too dry; it is a very good stomachic, but I like something a little sweeter. We therefore added two to four per cent more sugar, and four per cent more alcohol, and that gives you a wind which is six per cent below strong sherry. Then I have made a different kind again, in another manner. I have taken natural wine, which itself was worth nothing, and could not be drunk because it was fermentescent, and mixed that with a certain quantity of tea, whereby the whole fermentability of the wine was at once destroyed; then I added acid and alcohol up to 9 per cent, the acid being 4 per mille, and a little colour, and the products of that process are Nos. 5 and 6. Then, last, I tried an experiment which I myself consider the most successful of any. I made an effervescing wine in two ways. First in the soda-water way, by pumping in carbonic acid, and the second method was by putting tea liqueur into wine previously made effervescing, according to a scientific method. The tea liqueur being put in, was allowed to deposit; the deposit was disgorged according to the rules of the art, and you have on the table the product which I call effervescing tea par excellence. It is dry, but all these wines I have kept dry, according to the prevailing taste, which is, I think, correct in this respect. Of course, if the experiment were carried out on a large scale, sugar could be added to any extent, to please the taste of the consumer. I maintain that, as wines are still dear, and are getting dearer every year, and as they lack certain keeping qualities, particularly champagne, which cannot be sent, for example, to China or Japan, because it would ferment a second time, and as these tea wines are so unfermentable that if you even put yeast and sugar into them and keep them at a temperature equal to the human body for six weeks, you will not get more than one bottle in a hundred to ferment, it is certainly useful to have an unfermentable wine which can be transported anywhere, and considering the great use which effervescing wines are, and the great boon which they would be considered by many persons abroad who are at present unable to obtain anything of the sort, the experiment is certainly worth trying. I shall be happy for any one present to taste these wines. The tea makes them a good stomachic, and as alcohol is present in small quantity, the exhilarating effect is unaccompanied by any evil consequence, while, at the same time, no one can drink half, or even a quarter, of a bottle without feeling unmistakably that, in ordinary phrase, he is ‘the better for it.’”
Recipe for the Day.
The Italian tradition of a biscuit with a glass of wine in the afternoon seems to me to be a very elegant and civilised practice. Here is a nice tea biscuit to go with your tea wine, or just tea.
Mix well with one pound and a half of flour, eight ounces of butter, the same of sugar, four well beaten eggs, and a tea-spoonful of ammonia; knead together and make into small biscuits.
Cookery and Domestic Economy, (1862) by Mary Somerville.
Quotation for the Day.
Tea! thou soft, thou sober, sage, and venerable liquid .. thou female tongue-running, smile-soothing, heart-opening, wink-tippling cordial, to whose glorious insipidity I owe the happiest moments of my life, let me fall prostrate…
Colley Cibber, The Lady’s Last Stake.