Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Instant Tea: the beginnings.

Instant tea is commonly said to have been invented in the 1930’s, quickly adapted to British and Canadian military ration packs during World War II, but not commercialized until about 1946. However, the wonderful book which was the source of our recipe for the day yesterday (The cyclopædia of practical receipts in all the useful and domestic arts (London 1841) shows that the concept had already been around for a century or so.

No-one publishes this sort of book anymore – the sort of book that helps you to acquire every imaginable skill necessary to running a household. Here you will find recipes for matches, ink, glue, gunpowder, sealing wax, Elephant milk, and purified opium as well as a surprising number of remedies for gonorrhea and a few for the itch and other unpleasant medical issues. There are also instructions for removing freckles (I bet Google cant tell you that,) perfume for gloves – and even your own condoms.

But I digress: tea is the topic for the day today. Here are the instructions for the tea:

Tea,         1 part.
Boiling water,             7 part.
Digest at a heat of 170o for half an hour, and evaporate at a low temperature.
*** In this way I have made an excellent extract of tea, which preserves many of the virtues of the leaves, and will produce a decent tea by adding a few grains to the hot water.
oooo The lower the temperature at which the evaporation is carried on the finer the quality.

There are more tea ideas in the book too:

I.                   Clean chopped meadow hay is said to make a very good substitute for tea if used in the proportions of three to one.
II.                Rosebus, dried            5 parts
Rosemary leaves         1 part
Balm leaves     2 parts.
III.             Strawberry and black currant leaves make a very good substitute for tea when properly treated.
IV.             The herb spring grass (anthoxanthum odoratum), when dried, forms an excellent substitute for China tea, and is more wholesome.

There will be more posts from this treasure-trove of a cyclopaedia, folks, and that’s a promise!


Les said...

By digest do they mean to leave at low heat until all of the liquid is evaporated?

Project Gutenburg has several similar books posted.

The Old Foodie said...

Hi les, that's how I understand it, yes. Instant tea never took off in the 1940's or the 1980's when it was re-launched. I am not suprised - tea should not be meddled with!