A. Prepare Marshmallow Wafers.
Dent a marshmallow by pressing on it, as hard as you can, with the handle of a knife. Put in this dent a piece of butter about the size of half a pea, and place the marsh-mallow on a square cracker laid on an unbuttered tin. Put it in the oven, until it puffs up and browns slightly. Remove from the oven, and, as it grows cold, place in the dent a piece of a candied cherry.
Serve with tea.
B. Weigh a Teaspoon of Tea. Allowing one tea-spoon of tea to one cup, what would each cup cost?
C. Green Tea.
1. To one-half teaspoon of tea add one-half cup of water which is hot, but not boiling. Let it stand three minutes.
2. To one-half teaspoon of tea add one-half cup of boiling water, and boil, covered, for five minutes.
3. To one-half teaspoon of tea add one-half cup of boiling water. Let it stand three minutes, and then strain about half of it from the leaves.
4. Let the remainder from (3) steep twenty minutes and then strain.
5. Pour one-half cup boiling water through one-half teaspoon of tea in a fine strainer or tea-ball.
Compare 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, as to color, flavor, and strength.
Put a teaspoon of each into five test tubes, add one-half teaspoon of ferrous sulphate solution and set aside until black precipitate settles. This precipitate shows the amount of tannin (a substance in tea liable to cause digestive disturbances) which is extracted from the tea by each method.
D. Class Experiments. Black Tea.
Repeat C, but use black instead of green tea. Judging from these experiments which method of making tea is best ? Why ? Compare the amounts of tannin in green and black tea.
E. Make a Cup of Tea. Serve with the wafers.
Chinese tradition recognizes the use of tea since 2700 B.C., but it was not used in England or on the Continent until the latter part of the seventeenth century, nor was it imported into America until 1711. In 1660 Pepys, an Englishman of some political and social experience, records in his diary the taking of his first cup of tea, which he explains is a "China drink." Now England and Australia use large quantities of it per capita compared with its consumption in the United States.
Tea comes to us mainly from China, Japan, Ceylon, and India. There has been an attempt, however, to grow it in our own country, and some is produced successfully in South Carolina. Tea is made from the leaves of a shrub called thea, which grows from three to six feet high. In order to obtain the best flavor only new, tender leaves and buds are used, but as these shrubs send out four sets of shoots a year, there are four harvests. There are different grades and varieties of tea plants, but, in general, the tea from each country has a characteristic flavor. Great differences, however, are due to the age and size of the leaf. The two leaves nearest the tip are the choicest and make the real Flowery and Orange Pekoe; but it is said the finest grades are so highly prized in their own countries that they are never sold in the United States. The leaves which grow farther and farther down the stem make less and less desirable teas. In selecting teas, then, the size of the uncurled leaves and their uniformity should be considered. The substitution of a larger leaf than the brand calls for, or the addition of tea "dust", or of too large a proportion of stems, are now the chief adulterations.
a, Flowery Pekoe; b, Orange Pekoe; c, Pekoe; d, Souchong (first); e, Souchong (second); /, Congou; h, Bohea.
There are two chief methods of preparing the leaves for market, and these affect not only the appearance but also the flavor and the composition of the beverages made from them. It is these methods of preparation which give us black and green teas. The green color of the leaf is preserved in green tea by drying the leaf by artificial heat and at a temperature high enough to destroy any ferments that are present. During the drying, constant stirring will cause the leaves to roll and curl. In making black tea, on the contrary, the leaves are only withered and left sufficiently moist to ferment before they are curled and dried thoroughly. This fermentation not only changes the color, but also somewhat affects the composition of the leaf. The exact process, number of dryings, and so forth, differ in different localities. Formosa-oolong is a cross between black and green tea. It is a semi-fermented tea which appears black, but has the flavor of a green tea.
Although the tea leaf is itself rich in protein, the infusion contains practically only caffein, tannin, and essential oils. None of these are in any sense food materials. Caffein, a stimulating substance also found in coffee, acts upon the nerves, producing a feeling of well-being, but it is this which prevents sleep if the drinker is unaccustomed to the drug. Caffein is so soluble that practically all of it is extracted from the leaves however the infusion is made. This is also true of the essential oils which give the characteristic flavor. These so-called oils are not really oils at all, but are chemical substances present in very small amounts, and are somewhat volatile. For this reason tea leaves should be kept in covered cans or jars.
The bitter ingredient, tannin, is drawn out more and more if tea stands on its leaves, or is boiled. Tannin is disagreeable in taste, but, besides this, it may hinder the flow of digestive juices, and retard digestion. As a result of fermentation, black tea contains much less tannin and is usually recommended for that reason; but it is somewhat more stimulating than green tea, for it contains a little more caffein. Most people select the variety of tea they use merely by preference for its flavor without thought of composition.
Individuals differ greatly in their sensitiveness to the stimulants in tea, as well as to the tannin. Children are always much more easily affected than adults, and should not be allowed to take any stimulating drink. Authorities say that no one should touch tea or coffee until over thirty. Nervous people, of course, are most prone to notice bad effects from the caffein, and those with weak digestions may be troubled by the amount of tannin which even well-made tea contains.
Freeman and Chandler. "World's Commercial Products."
1. What is a beverage?
2. What is a decoction? An infusion? Which should tea be? What is meant by steeping?
3. Make a drawing of a tea leaf, and a sketch of a tea plant.
4. Make lists of some of the best varieties of both black and green tea with their present prices.
5. What ought you to expect to pay for good tea? For fancy varieties?
6. How can the effects of tea-drinking be minimized?
7. Should the use of tea be encouraged? What people should avoid its use entirely?
8. Why should a teapot be scalded immediately before making tea in it?