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The Tea History Podcast

Join host Laszlo Montgomery for a guided tour of the history of the world's most popular beverage.

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Join host Laszlo Montgomery for a guided tour of the history of the world's most popular beverage.

Introducing: A History of Coffee Podcast

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Documentarian and podcaster James Harper of Filter Stories has joined up with history professor Jonathan Morris to produce a nice, short but sweet, six-part series that looks at the history of this aromatic psychoactive seed that, like tea, played no small part in changing the world.

If you liked the Tea History Podcast, I warmly welcome you to go check this one out from James and Jonathan that examines the impact of the coffee trade on world history. 

Behind that goodness that many of us enjoy once or several times daily, there’s a centuries-long history that is both fascinating and at times, quite dark. Like with the history of tea, many people in the first links of the coffee supply chain faced all manners of little-known human suffering.

I invite you to listen. Only six episodes. Enjoy it with your morning cuppa. Did you know coffee is also produced in China? Yeah, the PRC is one of the top 20 producers in the world. Almost all the coffee in China is overwhelmingly grown in Yunnan Province, the same place where the original tea gardens existed thousands and thousands of years ago. You can learn all about this too in A History of Coffee. Links to the show can be found in the episode show notes.

CHECK "A HISTORY OF COFFEE" OUT IN YOUR FAVORITE PODCAST APP

OR AT THE WEBSITE: HTTPS://FILTERSTORIES.ORG

OR AT: https://bit.ly/2NArChO

Filter Stories Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/filterstoriespodcast/

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Feb 15 2022

42mins

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Ep. 21 | Series Recap and Announcement

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As Porky Pig used to say, "That's all folks". But only for this Chinese tea history series. There's more coming rest assured. Please stay subscribed so that you won't miss any new episodes. I'm already working on the next episode, one that's guaranteed to please. I thank you all for listening. Please consider checking out the other two Teacup Media Shows: The China History Podcast and The Chinese Sayings Podcast.

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Sep 29 2021

18mins

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Ep. 20 | Famous China Teas (Part 2)

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We continue on with a tour of the provinces, looking at some of the more renowned teas each place has to offer. Teas such as Dancong, Tieguanyin, Jinjunmei, and Da Hong Pao are introduced. Various teas from Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Hubei, and Hunan are discussed.

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Sep 22 2021

33mins

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Ep. 19 | Famous China Teas (Part 1)

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Today's THP episode will go from province to province and look at a variety of famous teas such as Longjing, Gunpowder, Huangshan Maofeng, Lu'an Guapian, Xinyang Maojian, Taiping Houkui and a few others. All of the teas to be introduced began their brilliant careers as tribute teas sent annually to the emperor. You too can savor these teas fit for an emperor by purchasing them online at any number of online (and offline) tea sellers.

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Sep 15 2021

29mins

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Ep. 18 | Pu-Erh Tea

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In this episode, we focus on the category of tea that is most admired by many tea experts the world over. Pu-Erh tea was introduced sometime during the Ming Dynasty and in time, became the oft-called "King of Teas" for its rich and unique flavor, wholly unlike any other tea produced in China.

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Sep 08 2021

29mins

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Ep. 17 | The Secret Gets Out

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After enjoying a monopoly that lasted for 45 centuries, China's secrets of how they turned Camellia sinensis leaves into tea are shared with the world (but not by the Chinese). This time we see how the tea seeds, plants, tools, and experts are secreted out of China and successfully brought to the Indian highlands. There a British dream team of botanists and horticulturalists take over the job begun by Robert Fortune and launch the tea industry in India. We also look at James Taylor's efforts to plant tea in Ceylon and how his business savvy partner in this venture brought tea to the world. This partner was Thomas J. Lipton, the one who brought us the ubiquitous Lipton Tea. What a character he was!

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Sep 01 2021

29mins

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Ep. 16 | The Breakthrough

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The hero who ensured Robert Fortune's success, Dr. Nathanial Bagshaw Ward is introduced in this episode. Ward's invention of the terrarium was the one thing that provided the breakthrough for Robert Fortune. We see how Fortune went into China, scored plants and tea seeds from Zhejiang, Anhui and Fujian and got everything safely loaded onto a vessel for transport to India.

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Aug 25 2021

34mins

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Ep. 15 | A Fortune for the East India Company

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The mid 19th Century brought a sea change to the tea industry. Demand continued to grow all over Europe. China's artisanal tea growers and the general unreliability of the China market due to all the well-known political and social disasters happening in China raise concerns. The idea to make a go at growing tea in India is seriously discussed. We meet Charles Bruce, the Father of India's Tea Industry. The botanist, horticulturist, and man of adventure Robert Fortune is also introduced. We close the episode with the exploits of Fortune's first China trip and his discovery that green and black teas both come from the exact same species of plant, Camellia sinensis. With all the well-known mid-19th Century headaches facing China's Manchu Qing rulers, the loss of the European tea market will soon be added to their woes.

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Aug 18 2021

28mins

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Ep. 14 | Tea and Opium

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Midway through the Qing Dynasty trouble is brewing along with the tens of millions of pounds of tea being imported into Britain. The Qianlong Emperor rebuffs Britain's envoy and puts a major damper on the prospects of China trade. Britain finds the perfect commodity to trade for tea, Patna Opium from India. This ultimately leads to conflict culminating in the Opium Wars. Why this war is misnamed is also explained. This was the age of the China Clipper ships and imperialism at its worst. New black teas are also discussed, including Lapsang Souchong and the one black tea that local Chinese didn't turn their nose up to: Keemun.

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Aug 11 2021

24mins

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Ep. 13 | Don't Tax My Tea

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In this episode we move to the other side of the world to look at some tea history in the British Colonies. The tea trade by now has transformeded into an entire industry and becomes the most important traded commodity of the British East India Company. Twining's emerges onto the scene along with coffeehouse culture where tea was also to be had. Over in the American colonies, the Yanks embrace tea as much as the Brits. Milk and sugar with tea become all the rage. And when the Her Majesty's government starts hitting up the American colonists with the Indemnity Acts of 1767, the Townshend Acts in 1770, and finally, the Tea Act of 1773, it leads to the Boston Tea Party and an eventual "parting of ways" between the colonists and their British masters.

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Aug 04 2021

27mins

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Ep. 12 | Tea-mania Takes Europe by Storm

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Europeans were no less enthusiastic about tea than anyone else. It started off with the royals and aristocrats. But once prices came down and the haves and have-nots got to enjoy it, the demand will become insatiable. The Russian tea caravans are also explored. Though their tea culture was different from the ways of the Europeans, Russian people loved their tea no less. During the Qing Dynasty tea just kept getting better. We look at the tea-loving Qianlong Emperor and his contributions to tea culture. We close the episode with the story of John Dodd and Li Chunsheng, the fathers of Taiwan's tea industry

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Jul 28 2021

27mins

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Ep. 11 | Europeans Discover Tea

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During the late 16th century, the Jesuit Fathers become the first Europeans to drink tea. Soon afterward the Portuguese and Dutch traders start poking their noses around China and Japan. They too learn of this amazing beverage and see excellent prospects in their home markets. By the early 17th century The Dutch and British East India Companies are engaging in tea commerce. Though the Chinese at first wouldn't be caught dead drinking black tea, this too is discovered by the European traders and the rest is history.

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Jul 21 2021

28mins

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Ep. 10 | Yixing Teaware and the Gongfu Tea Ceremony

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More Ming Dynasty tea history this time. Further innovations from China's tea artisans further improves the taste and experience of tea. The famous "zisha" clay teapots and tea ware from Yixing, Jiangsu province are introduced as well as their role in the Gongfu Tea Ceremony. As the second half of the Ming Dynasty starts to wind down, the Europeans will soon be knocking on China's door. They too will discover the goodness and greatness of tea with historic consequences.

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Jul 14 2021

24mins

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Ep. 9 | The Ming Dynasty Tea Revolution

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The epic story continues after the greatest advances ever in tea production and tea culture in the Song. After surviving the Mongol Yuan Dynasty Camellia Sinensis experiences revolutionary improvements with the founding of the Ming Dynasty by Zhu Yuanzhang. Now tea starts to become more familiar to us after the Hongwu Emperor demands all future tribute teas must be sent in loose-leaf form. With loose leaf teas came greater demands for teaware. The history of the kilns of Jingdezhen is introduced, along with their calling card: Blue and White porcelain, China's first global brand. Other innovations such as teas scented with flowers and the Tea Manual of Zhu Quan are also discussed.

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Jul 07 2021

30mins

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Ep. 8 | Ladies and Gentlemen, Oolong Tea

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Buddhism continues to embrace tea even further during the Song Dynasty giving rise to the term 茶禪一味 "Tea and Chan Buddhism are one taste." More Huizong, white tea, Japan's Myōan Eisai, and then we'll close with an intro to Wulong (Oolong) Tea and the emergence of the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian province as a tea powerhouse.

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Jun 30 2021

28mins

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Ep. 7 | Tea During the Song Dynasty

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No longer is tea a bitter brew sharing a Chinese character with the one used for a bitter vegetable. Royals, officials, scholars, and common people are enjoying tea and writing poems inspired by this beverage that has taken China and Japan by storm. During the Song, tea takes on a new look and feel. We also revisit one of the greatest royal patrons of tea in Chinese history, Emperor Huizong.

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Jun 23 2021

29mins

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Ep. 6 | Camellia Sinensis, Superstar

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In the post-Lu Yu world, tea starts to take off like a rocket. It will take a little longer for tea to get the needed traction in Japan but during the Tang, they get to see it and appreciate it up close. We'll also look at one of the early "Tea Persons", the poet and recluse Lu Tong, as well as one of his most famous tea poems. In this episode, we also start the discussion on tea ware, first Yue ware and Xing ware.

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Jun 16 2021

27mins

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Ep. 5 | The Classic of Tea

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We looked at The Tea Saint, Lu Yu in the last episode. This time we give a once-over to his greatest work, The Cha Jing or Classic of Tea. The national popularity of tea in China really catches fire after Lu Yu shows everyone how to enjoy it, and enjoy life at the same time.

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Jun 09 2021

26mins

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Ep. 4 | The Sage of Tea: Lu Yu

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In this episode, we finally introduce the Tea Saint. What Elvis was to rock n' roll, Lu Yu was to the popularity of tea in Chinese society. Here we'll look at his life and his work, "The Classic of Tea". From here on out, tea is no longer tú, and neither is it bitter.

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Jun 02 2021

22mins

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Ep. 3 | Tea Hits The Big Time - The Sui, Tang and Tibet

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After centuries of trial and error, tea starts to transform from a bitter medicinal brew into something worthy of presenting to the emperor as tribute. Tea's rise during the Sui and Tang are introduced this time. The important role tea played in Tibet and other border regions is also discussed. The Tea Saint, Lu Yu will be saved for the next episode.

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May 26 2021

27mins

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