Historical (Sorta) Decisions Made Over a Pot of Tea

(Wikipedia image)
(Wikipedia image)

If you’re expecting anything serious…or historically accurate…or even decisive, best to move along. This is strictly tongue-in-cheek. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The “Green Light” Given for Starting Construction on Knossos Palace (2000 BC)

Okay, so they didn’t have tea in Crete yet…or did they? How do you make such a decision without tea? I mean, having seen this palace and how big those stones are, I’m convinced that you’d have to be pretty firm in your commitment to the project. I don’t know about you, but I would need several strong pots of hot tea while mulling over something like this. One thing is for sure – the design was great, keeping out the soaring heat of the day and even having indoor plumbing. No running to the well to fill the tea kettle.

The First Legal Code Created (circa 1792 BC)

This necessitated the first lawyer. And the first lawyer joke. Hammurabi of Babylon, conqueror and empire builder, united all Mesopotamia into one big tea party and set up the biggest law firm in history. Not really, just the legal code, and it was a great period in Babylonian history with plenty of tea. (Sure they had tea. After all, the Chinese were guzzling tea like crazy. Word must have gotten to Hammurabi via a selfie posted on the Chinese emperor’s Facebook page or Twitter account maybe. Or a text message. Something!)

Trojan War Launched (circa 1180 BC)

Too many history books say that this war started over the ravishingly beautiful Helen of Troy. Nope. It started over a spilt cup of tea. The Greek commander Agamemnon was in Troy for one of those fancy schmancy state dinners when a clumsy waiter knocked over Agamemnon’s teacup while putting more pats of butter on his bread plate. (In all fairness to the waiter, I’ve served at such banquets and found this butter pat maneuver to be quite tricky.) The matter was further exacerbated by the waiter getting a little jittery and spilling a whole pot of tea on Agamemnon’s tunic. Thus began a lengthy besiegement of Troy by hordes of Greeks united to demand justice for this insulting (and messy) action. Plus the Trojans refused to pay the cleaning bill for that tunic.

Building the Great Wall of China (220–206 BC)

Tea has been around for thousands of years. So has what we now know as the Great Wall of China, with the most famous part having been built in 220-206 BC at the command of Qin Shi Huang, first Emperor of China, along the historical northern borders of China. It was meant to protect the empire from invasions by more hostile groups. The wall we know today was mostly built during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 AD). So, how was tea involved? Well, as I heard the story, Qin Shi Huang was waiting for the tea water to reach the “crab eyes” stage (just the right temperature for green tea) and was playing with his Lego® set (okay, so it wasn’t called “Lego” back then) and built a wall. Just then a messenger came running in saying that a horde from the north was heading their way. “Hm…,” thought the emperor, “invading horde…wall of Legos…” Ding! A lightbulb suddenly went off over his head…oh, sorry, the lightbulb hadn’t been invented yet so it was probably a candle being lit…and he told the messenger to get a crew started building that wall right away. Just then the water reached the “crab eyes” stage and, with a major decision having been made, he turned his attention to infusing his tea. From that day on, he was known as the Wall Emperor Who Steeps Tea or some such thing.

Henry VIII Decides to Behead His Second Wife Ann Boleyn (1536)

After a mere 3 years of marriage, Henry said, “Get me out of this marriage.” His loyal minions did. Some say it was so he could marry someone else and beget a son (Ann was only able to have a healthy daughter, Elizabeth I). In reality, it was over tea. Yeah, this was about 70 years before the Dutch brought tea to Europe, but hey, Henry was a very forward-thinking monarch. In fact, I think that’s what the whole disagreement between him and Ann was about. Something like this: Henry: “Ann, tea is going to be the most popular drink in our empire some day.” Ann: “How idiotic.” Henry: “Guards! Off with her head!”

Declaring Our Independence from King George III of Britain (4 July 1776)

Sure, you’ve heard of the Boston Tea Party, but that wasn’t the only involvement of tea in the decision of the original 13 colonies (actually, only 12 since New York abstained from voting) to declare their independence from Britain and especially King George III (aka “The Mad King”). Part of the issue was all that pinky raising the Colonists were required to do when lifting their cups at tea time to drink. Another was those teeny weeny tea sandwiches that were served. Oh, wait, that was in the 1800’s. Well, the pinky thing was enough to fight over. So they did. And now we can sip our tea without raising our pinkies if we so desire.

Sending Men to the Moon (circa 1960)

On 20 July 1969, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made one small step for man and one giant leap for tea drinkers. But the decision to send men to the moon came years earlier over a pot of Lapsang Souchong. That smoky taste is very invigorating and stimulates creative thinking. One potful and the guys at NASA were saying, “Monkey schmonkey…let’s send a MAN to the moon!” Wow, now that’s good tea!

The First Blog Is Set Up (late 1990s)

Again, tea stimulated those creative brain cells and had someone thinking, “Gee, I want to post about this tea online…just something short…with photos.” Voilà! The Web log was born. And then that person had some more tea and said, “The name ‘Web log’ is too long. I’ll just call it a ‘blog.’”

Enough history. Time to get back to tea drinking!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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