The mode of the preparation by the natives is this. The ends of the branches and suckers, with the leaves on; are taken from the tree and broken into lengths of from twelve to eighteen inches. These are arranged in the split of a stick or small bamboo, side by side, forming a truss in such a manner, that the leaves all appear on one side, and the stalk on the other, the object of which is to secure equal roasting, the stalks being thus exposed to the fire together, and the leaves together. The slit being tied up in two or three places, and a part of the stick or bamboo left as a handle, the truss is held over a fire without smoke, and kept moving about, so as to roast the whole equally, without burning, on the success of which operation the quality and flavor of the article must depend. When successfully roasted, the raw vegetable taste is entirely dissipated, which is not the ease if insufficiently done. When singed or overdone, the extract is destroyed and the aroma lost. When the fire is smoky, the flavor varies with the nature of the smoke. The stalks are roasted equally with the leaves, and are said to add fully as much to the strength of the infusion. By roasting the whole becomes brittle, and is reduced to a coarse powder by rubbing between the hands. In this state it is ready for use, and the general mode of preparing the beverage is by infusion, as in the case of common tea.
That it would soon become a most valuable article of diet amongst the laboring classes, and on ship board particularly, if, once brought into use, there can be no doubt. The coffee-tree can be grown to advantage for the leaf in the lowlands of every tropical country, where the soil is sufficiently fertile, whilst it requires a different soil and climate to produce the fruit. Dr. Hooker, in the Jury Reports, observes upon the prepared coffee leaves, submitted by Dr. Gardner, of Ceylon, to be used as tea leaves, that they are worthy of notice as affording a really palatable drink when infused as tea is; more so, perhaps, than coffee is to the uninitiated. That this preparation contains a considerable amount of the nutritious principles of coffee, is evident from the analysis; but as the leaves can only be collected in a good state at the expense of the coffee bush, it is doubtful whether the coffee produced by the berries be not, after all, the cheapest, as it certainly is the best.
The immense traffic in the produce of this simple shrub, the growth of a remarkable country, hitherto almost entirely isolated from the western nations, is one of the most remarkable illustrations of the enterprise and energy of modern commerce. The trade in tea now gives employment to upwards of 60,000 tons of British shipping, and about ten millions sterling of English capital, producing a revenue to this country of nearly six millions sterling.
Every reflecting man will admit that articles of such vast consumption as tea and coffee (amounting together to more than 343,500 tons annually), forming the chief liquid food of whole nations, must exercise a great influence upon the health of the people.
There is scarcely any country in the world in which a dietetic drink or beverage resembling tea, is not prepared, and in general use, from some exotic or indigenous shrub. The two chief plants laid under contribution are, however, the Chinese tea-plant, and a species of holly peculiar to South America, producing the Paraguay tea. Astoria theiformis is used at Santa Fe as tea. The leaves of Canothus Americanus, an astringent herb, have been used as a substitute, under the name of New Jersey tea.
It has been a matter of surprise why tea should be so much sought after by the poorer classes, since by many it is looked on more as a luxury than of use to the human system. The manner in which it acts, and the cause why it is so much in demand by all classes, is satisfactorily explained by Liebig; and the benefit, therefore, which will be conferred by selling it at a low rate, and thus placing it within the means of all, has at last come to be duly appreciated. Liebig says, without entering minutely into the medical action of caffeine, theine, &c., it will surely appear a most striking fact, even if we were to deny its influence on the process of secretion, that the substance, with the addition of oxygen and the elements of water, can yield taurine, the nitrogenised compound peculiar to bile:—
Carbon. Nitrogen. Hydrogen. Oxygen. 1 atom caffeine or theine = 8 2 5 2 9 atoms water = — — 9 9 9 atoms oxygen = — — — 9 = 2 atoms taurine 8 2 14 20 = 2 4 9 10
To see how the action of caffeine, theobromine, theine, &c., may be explained, we must call to mind that the chief constituent of the bile contains only 3.8 per cent. of nitrogen, of which only the half, or 1.9 per cent., belongs to the taurine; bile contains, in its natural state, water and solid matter, in the proportion of ninety parts by weight of the former, to ten of the latter. If we suppose these ten parts, by weight of solid matter, to be chloric acid, with 3.87 per cent. of nitrogen, then 100 parts of theine would contain 0.171 of nitrogen in the shape of taurine. Now this quantity is contained in 0.6 parts of theine, or 2 grains 8/10ths of theine can give to an ounce of bile the nitrogen it contains in the form of taurine.
Although an infusion of tea contains no more than the one-tenth of a grain of theine, still, if it contribute in point of fact to the formation of bile, the action even of such a quantity cannot be looked upon as a nullity. Neither can it be denied, that in the case of an excess of non-azotised food, and a deficiency of motion, which is required to cause the change of matter of the tissues, and thus to yield the nitrogenised product which enters into the composition of the bile, that in such a condition the health may be benefited by the use of compounds which are capable of supplying the place of the nitrogenised substances produced in the healthy state of the body, and essential to the production of an important element of inspiration. In a chronical sense, and it is this alone which the preceding remarks are intended to show, caffeine, or theine, &c., are, in virtue of their composition, better adapted to this purpose than all nitrogenised vegetable principles. The action of these substances in ordinary circumstances is not obvious, but it unquestionably exists. Tea and coffee were originally met with among nations whose diet was chiefly vegetable.
Considerable discussion has taken place regarding the tea plants; some say that there is only one species; others that there are two or three. Mr. Fortune, who visited the tea districts of Canton, Fokien, and Chekiang, asserts that the black and green teas of the northern districts of China are obtained from the same species or variety, known under the name of Thea Bohea. Some make the Assam tea a different species, and thus recognise three: T. Cantoniensis or Bohea, T. Viridis, and T. Assamica. The quality of the tea depends much on the season when the leaves are picked, the mode in which it is prepared, as well as the district in which it grows. The green teas include Twankay, Young Hyson, Hyson, Gunpowder, and Imperial; while the black comprise Bohea, Congou, Souchong, Oolong, and Pekoe. The teas of certain districts, such as Anhoi, have peculiar characters.
The first tea imported into England was a package of two pounds, by the East India Company, in 1664, as a present to the king; in 1667, another small importation took place, from the company's factory at Bantam. The directors ordered their servants to "send home by their ships 100 pounds weight of the best tey they could get." In 1678 were imported 4,713 lbs.; but in the six following years the entire imports amounted to no more than 410 lbs. According to Milburn's "Oriental Commerce," the consumption in 1711 was 141,995 lbs.; 120,595 lbs. in 1715, and 237,904 lbs. in 1720. In 1745 the amount was 730,729 lbs. For above a century and a half, the sole object of the East India Company's trade with China was to provide tea for the consumption of the United Kingdom. The company had the exclusive trade, and were bound to send orders for tea, and to provide ships to import the same, and always to have a year's consumption in their warehouses. The teas were disposed of in London, where only they could be imported, at quarterly sales. The act of 1834, however, threw open the trade to China.
From a Parliamentary return, showing the quantity of tea retained for home consumption in the United Kingdom, in each year, from 1740 to the termination of the East India Company's sales, and thence to the present time, it appears that in 1740, 1,493,695 lbs. of tea were retained for home consumption. Two years afterwards, the quantity fell to 473,868 lbs., and in 1767 only 215,019 lbs. were retained. Next year the amount increased to 3,155,417 lbs.; in 1769 it was 9,114,854 lbs.; in 1795, 21,342,845 lbs.; in 1836, 49,842,236 lbs.
The return in question also specifies the quantity of the various kinds of tea, with the average sale prices.
According to the annual tea reports of Messrs. W.J. Thompson and Son, and Messrs. W.E. Franks and Son, the total imports of tea during the last fifteen years were as follows, reckoned in millions of lbs.:—
Years. Black. Green. Total. Home Consumption. 1838 26,786 8,215 35,001 36,415 1839 30,644 7,680 38,324 36,351 1840 21,063 7,161 28,224 31,716 1841 24,915 6,303 31,218 36,811 1842 31,915 9,729 41,644 37,554 1843 39,513 7,340 46,853 39,902 1844 39,644 8,749 48,393 41,176 1845 39,518 11,790 51,338 44,127 1846 44,017 12,486 55,503 47,534 1847 46,887 8,368 55,255 46,247 1848 37,512 7,611 45,123 48,431 1849 43,234 9,156 52,400 50,100 1850 39,873 8,427 48,300 51,000 1851 62,369 9,131 71,500 54,000 1852 55,525 9,175 64,700 54,724
The duty on tea was gradually raised from 9d. per lb. in 1787 to 3s. a lb. in 1806. It was 2s. 2d. per lb. until May, 1852, when 4d. per lb. was taken off, and further annual reductions are to be made. Down to the year 1834 the duty was an ad valorem one of 96 per cent. on all teas sold under 2s. a lb., and of 100 per cent. on all that were sold at or above 2s., charged on the prices which they brought at the East India Company's sales. The ad valorem duties ceased on the 22nd of April, 1834, and under the act 3 and 4 William IV. c. 100, all tea imported into the United Kingdom for home consumption was charged with a customs as follows:—
Bohea 1s. 6d. per lb. Congou, twankay, hyson skin, orange pekoe, and campoi 2 2 " Souchong, flowery pekoe, hyson, young hyson, gunpowder, imperial, and other teas not enumerated 3 0 "
In 1836, the uniform duty of 2s. 1d. per lb. on all descriptions of tea was imposed, which, with the additional 5 per cent, imposed in 1840, made the total duty levied per lb. 2s. 2d. and a fraction.
During the years from 1831 to 1841, in spite of an increase of nearly three millions in the population of the country, and notwithstanding the impetus given to the tea-trade by the abolition of the East India Company's monopoly in 1833, the increased consumption was only 6,675,566 lbs. Great as the increase has been of late years, however, it is very far short of what we might expect to see were the duty reduced to a moderate per centage on the value of the article as it comes from the Chinese merchant. In Jersey and Guernsey, where there is no duty on tea, the average consumption is 41/2 lbs. per head per annum. The same rate for the United Kingdom would require an annual importation of nearly 150 million lbs. I asserted, many months ago, if the duty could be gradually reduced from its present exorbitant amount to 1s. per lb., the revenue would not suffer much, whilst the comfort of the people would be much increased, and our trade with China greatly improved.
Years. Teas Imported, lbs. Entered for Home Consumption, lbs. 1843 42,779,265 35,685,262 1844 50,613,328 41,176,00 1845 53,570,267 44,127,000 1846 57,584,561 46,554,787 1847 55,255,000 50,921,486 1848 47,774,755 48,735,696 1849 53,460,751 50,024,688 1850 50,512,384 51,178,215 1851 71,466,421 53,965,112 1852 66,361,020 54,724,615
Amount of duty received on tea:—
L Prices of Sound Common Congou per lb. 1841 3,973,668 1s. 7d. to 2s. 0d. 1842 4,088,957 1 7 1 10 1843 4,407,642 1 0 1 2 1844 4,524,093 0 10 1 0 1845 4,833,351 1 0 1 91/2 1846 5,112,005 0 9 0 91/2 1847 5,066,860 0 81/2 0 91/2 1848 5,330,515 0 8 0 81/2 1849 5,471,641 0 81/2 0 91/2 1850 5,597,708 0 101/2 1 1 1851 5,902,433 0 8 0 81/2 1852 5,986,482 0 71/2 2 2
Mr. Montgomery Martin, in his work on China, published in 1847, gave the average annual consumption of tea, the produce of China, as follows:—
lbs. Great Britain and Ireland 45,000,000 British North America and West Indies 2,500,000 Australasia, Cape of Good Hope, &c. 2,500,000 British India and Eastern Islands 2,000,000 ————— Total used throughout the British Empire 52,000,000 —————
United States of North America * 7,000,000 Russia 10,000,000 France and Colonies 500,000 Hanse Towns, &c. 150,000 Holland and its Colonies 1,000,000 Belgium 200,000 Denmark, Sweden, and Norway 250,000 The German States 500,000 Spain and Portugal 100,000 Italian States 50,000 South American States 500,000 ———- Total consumption in foreign countries 20,250,000
[* This is only one-third the actual consumption.]
According to this statement, it would seem that the English consume twice the quantity of tea that is used by all the other countries excepting China and Japan.
The consumption of tea in Europe and America I estimated a year or two ago as follows:—
lbs. Russia 15,000,000 United States of America 18,000,000 France 2,000,000 Holland 2,800,000 Other countries 2,000,000 Great Britain 50,000,000 ————— Total 89,800,000
The estimated consumption, at the rate of consumption found where taxation is favorable (as for instance 11/2 pounds—the average of this country) would give the following:—
cwts. England 400,000 France 510,000 Germany 400,000 Austria 500,000 Prussia ... Belgium 63,000 Russia 900,000 Rest of Europe 750,000
The total exportation of tea by sea from China, was estimated by Mr. Martin in 1847 at 76 millions of pounds, viz.:—
England 50,000,000 United States 20,000,000 All other countries 5,000,000 ————— 75,000,000
which, at 20 taels per picul (133 lbs.) amounts to 11,280,000 taels of silver at 80d. per tael, L3,760,000. The present Chinese duty of two taels five mace, does not include shipping and other charges; the old duty was five taels, and included all charges paid the Hong merchants. The export by sea is now about 97 millions of lbs.
The following was the returned value of the tea exported from the five Chinese ports in 1844 and 1845:—
1844. 1845. Canton L2,910,474 L3,429,790 Shanghae 67,115 462,746 Ningpo 2,000 2,000 Amoy 544 Foo-chow-foo 638 ————- ————- L2,979,589 L3,895,718
The average cost of tea in China at the ship's side is 10d. per pound, while it is confidently asserted that it could be produced in many parts of America at 5d. the pound. The great cost in China is owing to the expensive transportation, the cultivation of the fuel used, the absence of all economy of machinery, &c. It is only by adulteration that tea is sold in China as cheap as 10d. In America the beating and rolling of the leaves (one half of the labor) could be done by the simplest machinery, fuel could be economised by flues, &c.
The Russian teas, brought by caravans, are the most expensive and best teas used in Europe. The Chinese themselves pay 71/2 dollars per pound for the "Yen Pouchong" teas.
Full chests were exhibited in 1851, by Mr. Ripley, of various Pekoe teas, some of which fetch 50s. per lb. in the China market; whilst 7s. is the very highest price any of the sort will fetch in England, and this only as a fancy article. The plain and orange-scented Pekoes now fetch little with us; but as caravan teas, are purchased by the wealthier Russian families. The finest, however, never leave China, being bought up by the Mandarins; for though the transit expenses add 3s. to 4s. per lb. to the value when sold in Russia, the highest market price in St. Petersburg is always under 50s. Among these scented teas are various caper teas, flavoured with chloranthus flowers and the buds of some species of plants belonging to the orange tribe, magnolia fuscata, olea flowers, &c. The Cong Souchong, or Ning-young teas, are chiefly purchased for the American market. Oolong tea is the favourite drink in Calcutta, though less prized in England, its delicate flavor being injured by the length of the voyage. For delicacy, no teas, approach those usually called "Mandarin teas," which being slightly fired and rather damp when in the fittest state for use, will bear neither transport nor keeping. They are in great demand among the wealthy Chinese, and average 20s. per lb in the native market.—(Jury Reports.)
The consumption of tea in the United Kingdom may now be fairly taken at fifty-four million pounds yearly, and sold at an average price to the consumer of 4s. 6d., per pound. The money expended for tea is upwards of twelve millions sterling.
The expenditure of this sum is distributed as follows, in round numbers:—
Net cost of 54,000,000 pounds, average 1s. per pound L2,700,000 Export duty in China of 11/2d. a lb. 337,500 Shipping charges, &c., in China 25,000 Freight, &c., China to England, about 2d. per lb. 450,000 Insurance, 1/2d. per lb. 112,500 Commission, about 1/4d. per lb. 56,250 Tasting charges, &c., about 1/8 of a penny per lb. 28,125 Interest for 6 months on L3,709,375 at 5 per cent. 92,734 ————- Total outlay in China L3,802,109 Profit to exporters in China,(about 12 per cent.) 445,116 Landing charges, &c., in England 39,000 ————— Cost price in bond in England L4,286,225 Duty received by government at 2s. 21/2. per lb., about 5,985,482 ————— L10,271,707 Profit divided among tea-brokers, wholesale and retail dealers, &c 1,878,293 ————— Total outlay by British public for tea, at 4s. 6d. per lb. L12,150,000
The tea imported into England in 1667 was only 100 lbs., while for the year ending June 30, 1851, the export from China to Great Britain was 64,020,000 lbs., employing 115 vessels in its transportation; and to the United States, during the same time, 28,760,800 lbs., in sixty-four vessels. Within the last five years, the export has increased 10,000,000 lbs. to the United States, and 17,000,000 to Great Britain. These statistics will show the immense importance of this article to commerce, and the vast amount of shipping it supports. But let us follow out the statistics a little more in detail.
The population of the Chinese provinces, as quoted by Dr. Morison, from an official census taken in 1825, was 352,866,012, and we may fairly conclude that during the last twenty-eight years this population has extensively increased. If we assume the annual consumption of tea at four lb. per head on the above population; and this is no unreasonable assumption in a country, where, to quote from Murray's valuable work on China, tea "is the national drink, which is presented on every occasion, served up at every feast, and even sold on the public roads;" we shall have a tolerably accurate result as to the total consumption in the empire. Indeed this computation falls short of the actual relative consumption in the island of Jersey, where, as we have seen, nearly five lbs. is the annual allowance of each individual.
If we multiply the population of China by four, we have—
lbs. Total consumption of tea in China 1,411,464,048 Export of Great Britain and Ireland, for the year ending June 30, 1851. 64,020,000 Export to the United States, same period 28,760,800 Export to Holland, returned at 2,000,000 in Davis's "China" 3,000,000
Inland trade to Russia 15,000,000 Export to Hamburg, Bremen, Denmark, Sweden, &c., seven cargoes, about 3,000,000 Export to Sydney, and Australasian Colonies, at least 6,000,000 Export to Spain and France, four cargoes 2,000,000 ————- Total lbs. 1,533,244,848
The above is exclusive of the heavy exportation in Chinese vessels to all parts of the east where Chinese emigrants are settled, such as Tonquin, Cochin China, Cambodia, Siam, the Philippines, Borneo, and the various settlements within the Straits of Malacca. In comparison with such an enormous quantity, the 54 million lbs. consumed in the United Kingdom sink into insignificance.
L The cost of tea to America, at the ship's side in China, say 29,000,000 lbs., at an average of 1s. per lb., would be 1,450,000 The cost to England, 64,000,000, at the same price 3,200,000 The cost to other places, say 25,000,000 1,250,000 Russia, 15,000,000 750,000 ————— Total L6,650,000
It is therefore clear, that were the demand to be doubled from Great Britain, it would make very little difference in the Chinese market; since it would be only a question of letting us have six per cent, of their growth of the article, instead of three.
When we remember that the tea plant attains to maturity in three years, and its leaves are then fit for picking; and that there is a vast extent of country to which it is indigenous, growing in every climate between the equator and the latitude of 45 degrees, it is evident that, were there a necessity for it, the actual production of tea in China could be increased to an almost unlimited extent in the space of three or four years, an extent far more than compensating for the extra three per cent., which might be, in the first instance, required by the British.
The certainty of an increased consumption following upon a reduction in the price of tea to the actual consumers of it, is so obvious as to require demonstration to those only who have not considered the subject. The population of Great Britain and Ireland is, say in round numbers 30,000,000, the actual consumption of tea is only 54,000,000 lbs., or little more than one pound and three quarters for each individual. In the neighbouring island of Jersey, there are nearly five lbs. of tea consumed by every inhabitant yearly; and as we may fairly infer from analogy that similar results would arise from a similar cause, the consumption in the United Kingdom in the same ratio would amount to no less than 150 millions of pounds annually.
Tea, observes a most competent authority (Mr. J. Ingram Travers), is the favourite drink of the people: all desire to have it strong and good, and none who can afford it are without it. But in the agricultural districts the laborers use but little; numbers of them "make tea with burnt crusts, because the China tea is too dear." In Ireland the consumption is greatly below that of England; there are comparatively few people who do not, on company occasions, make their tea stronger than for ordinary use, and the general economy in the use of tea forms an exception to almost every other article of consumption. As to the working classes in the manufacturing districts, Mr. Bayley, President of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, himself a very extensive manufacturer, and therefore well qualified to speak to the fact, says:—"The common calculation of two ounces per head per week I should think is very much in excess of what the working classes consume. Domestic servants, I believe, have that quantity allowed them, but I should say that the working classes do not consume one quarter of that." And yet it is these classes who are the great consumers of everything cheap enough to be within their reach. It is this consumption that, under better earnings, has sustained the steady increase of nearly two million pounds of tea per annum for the last eight years, and still there is such ample room for increase that domestic servants are allowed at least four times as much per head as those working people who value, more than any other class, the cheerful refreshingness of tea, but who, stinted in its use by the exorbitant duty, are tempted and almost driven to the use, instead, of degrading drinks.
And if the general consumption of the population should rise to even half servants' allowance, or one ounce per head per week, the consumption of tea would reach 97,500,000 lbs. per annum. And as to what might be used if the taste for it had free scope, some idea may be formed from the fact that the consumption of such people as have found their way from these countries, where the consumption is 1 lb. 9 ozs. per head, to Australia, has there risen to 7 lbs. per head, at which rate the consumption of the United Kingdom would be about 210,000,000 lbs. per annum, and which, even at a 6d. duty, would produce five millions and a half. There is nothing in the air of Australia to give any especial impulse to tea drinking: on the contrary; in this comparatively cold, damp climate, people would naturally use a hot beverage more largely than in the dry warm climate of Australia; and, after all, great as the Australian consumption seems, it is scarcely more than a quarter of an ounce per head per week above the allowance to English domestic servants.
The consumption of tea, notwithstanding the dicta of Mr. Montgomery Martin, is destined to a prodigious increase. Nor is it solely to an increase in the consumption of tea, that we must look to prevent any deficiency in the revenue, as there is no doubt that a reduction in the price of the article would lead to a prodigious increase in the quantity of sugar consumed, especially by the lower classes, who seldom take the one without the other.
It is not, however, merely that they would buy sugar in proportion to the quantity of tea that they consume; the circumstance of a smaller sum being requisite for their weekly stock of tea, would enable them to spend a larger amount in other articles, among which sugar would, undoubtedly, be one of the most important. The merchant, shipowner, manufacturer, and all connected with the trade between Great Britain and China, are in a position to see the prodigious advantages that such a measure as an extensive reduction of the impost on tea would occasion to the general trade of the country; and the public at large, who are not practically familiar with the subject, only require it to be brought before them in a distinct point of view, when the important results of such a reduction cannot fail to be apparent to them.
Tea is not now within the reach of the poor man. A person taking tea once a day, will consume about 71/2 lbs. a year.
lbs. Say 500,000 persons take tea twice a day, or 15 lbs. a year, is 7,500,000 Say 4,000,000 persons take tea once a day, or 71/2 lbs. a year, is 30,000,000 Say 12,000,000 persons take tea once a week, or 1 lb. a year, is 12,000,000 ————— 49,500,000
Which shows that, at present, only one person out of every sixty can have tea twice a day; one of every seven only once a day; and that out of the remaining 13,500,000 persons, only five millions and a half can procure it once in the week. The exact state of the case shows that only eight millions of the people of the United Kingdom enjoy the use of tea, leaving the other twenty-two millions excluded. A Chinese will consume thirty pounds of tea in the year.
But it is said we must not, if our accumulated stocks be drank off this year, expect the Chinese to meet at once so huge an increase in the demand as to supply us with as much next year.
Now on no point of the case is the evidence so clear as upon the capacity of the Chinese to furnish, within any year, any quantity we may require. The Committee of 1847, on Commercial Relations with China, state—"That the demand for tea from China has been progressively and rapidly rising for many years, with no other results than that of diminished prices:"—a fact to be accounted for only upon the supposition that our ordinary demand is exceedingly small in proportion to the Chinese supply. Nor is it an unreasonable inference, that if so much more than usual was to be had at a less price than before, any rise of price, however trivial it might be, would bring forward a much larger quantity: a supposition which is completely confirmed by a review of prices here, and exports from China within the last four years; and in considering which it is important to bear in mind—1st, that our tea trade year, on which our account of import, export, home consumption, and stock on hand is taken, is from January to January, and the Chinese tea year from July to July; 2nd, that a rise at the close of the last months of the year in England, influences the next year's exports from China; and 3rdly, that of late years, since something of decrepitude has fallen upon the Chinese Government, smuggling there, to escape the export duty, has been carried on largely and at an increasing rate, so that the return is considerably below the real export.
In the Chinese tea year, July to July, 1848-9, the price of good ordinary congou, the tea of by far the largest consumption here, and which, in fact, rules the market, was 81/2d. to 9-1/3d., and the export from China 47,251,000 lbs. The year closed with the higher price, and the Chinese export from July 1849, to July 1850, was 54,000,000 lbs., showing an increase of export on the year of 6,750,000 lbs. Throughout 1850, here, prices fluctuated a good deal. They were low in the earlier part of the year, but in January went up from 91/2d. to 111/2d., and from July 1850, to July 1851, the export from China rose to 64,000,000 lbs., being an increase of ten million pounds on a previous increase of nearly seven million lbs. Prices here, during 1851, varied very much: it was difficult to say whether any rise would be established, but the export still went up and reached, from July 1851, to July 1852, 67,000,000 lbs., giving a total increase in three years of 19,750,000 lbs. Nor was it pretended that in any of those years the Chinese market showed even the least symptoms of exhaustion. "We know," say the Committee, "that the Chinese market has never been drained of tea in any one year, but that there has been always a surplus left to meet any extraordinary demand." But the effect of the rise in price in 1850 is still more forcibly shown by a comparison of our total imports in that and the following year. In 1850 we imported 48,300,000 lbs.; in 1851, 71,500,000 lbs., being an increase of 23,200,000 lbs. Doubtless the Chinese export, if made up totally with our year, would not account for the whole quantity, part of which is to be set down to Chinese export-smuggling, and part to arrivals from America and the Continent. The probability is that the increase of price referred to above never reached the Chinese tea farmers; the supply came from the merchants' stock on hand. The rise was, besides, uncertain, and from any established advance a much larger increase of export might be looked for.
But the mistake made in England in estimating what tea we may look for from China goes upon the supposition that they grow expressly for us: the fact being, as stated by Mr. Robt. Fortune, in his recently published "Tea Districts of China," "that the quantity exported bears but a small proportion to that consumed by the Chinese themselves." On this point the report of the Parliamentary Committee is explicit:—"There is a population in China, commonly assumed at above three hundred millions, at all hours in the day consuming tea, which only requires some change of preparation to be fit for exportation; thus implying an amount of supply on which any demand that may be made for foreign export can be, after a very short time, but slightly felt." Mr. Fortune, in his evidence, says "that the Chinese drink about four times as much as we do: they are always drinking it." Four times as much is probably very much an under-estimate. With rich and poor of all that swarming population, tea, not such as our working classes drink, but fresh and strong, and with no second watering, accompanies every meal. But even taking their consumption at four times as much per head as ours, and their population at the lowest estimate, at three hundred millions, their consumption, setting ours at 55,000,000 lbs., will be no less than two thousand two hundred millions of pounds per annum, or forty times the quantity used in the United Kingdom. As reasonably might the few foreigners who visit the metropolis in the summer expect to cause a famine of fruit and vegetables in London, as we that a doubling of our demand for tea would be felt in China. The further fifty-five million pounds would be but another fortieth of what they use themselves, and would have no more effect upon their entire market than the arrival of some thousand strangers within the year in London would have upon the supply of bread or butchers' meat. There is no need, therefore, to wait for the extension of tea plantations, and so far from taking for granted the statement of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, "that time must be given to increase production, and that the point of its taking three or four years to make a tea-tree is to be considered in dealing with the duties," we have the fact unmistakeably before us, that the production is already so vast, that any demand from us could have no appreciable effect. And as to future supplies, if we should come to drink as much as the Chinese themselves, a matter not at all needful to be considered at present, the Committee report that "the cultivation of the plant may be indefinitely extended;" whilst Mr. Fortune, who has been upon the spot, states "that there is not the slightest doubt that there is a great part of the land which is nearly uncultivated now, which, were there a demand for tea, could be brought into cultivation. The cost would be very little indeed; they would cut down a quantity of brushwood, and probably dig over the ground and plant the bushes. They could clear and plant it in the same year, and in about two years they could get something from it." As, however, without this extension they have hitherto found enough for the increase of their own vast population, for every extension of demand from us and every other foreign customer, whether by land or water, without the least tendency to an advance in price, there is no need to do more than thus touch upon the undeveloped resources of tea production.—Travers on the Tea Duties.
The consumption of tea in Russia is very great, as the middling classes make a more frequent use of that beverage than the rest. Every year 60,000 chests of tea arrive at Maimiatchin and Kiakhta, of the declared official value of L1,185,000 sterling; and to this may be added L38,650 for inferior tea used by the people of the south, which makes the total declared value of the tea introduced about one and a quarter million sterling. The consumption of Russia may be assumed at over fifteen millions of pounds, although we have no correct data, as in the case of shipping returns, to calculate from. In 1848, however, the Russians took 136,2171/2 boxes of fine tea of the Chinese, for which they paid 5,349,918 silver roubles—one million sterling. The quantity forwarded from Kiakhta into the interior consisted of—
Foods. Flowery or Pekoe tea 69,677 Ordinary tea 183,752 Brick tea 116,249 Equal to about fifteen million lbs. English.
Brick tea of Thibet.—A sample of this curious product was shown by the East India Company in 1851. It is formed of the refuse tea-leaves and sweepings of the granaries, damped and pressed into a mould, generally with a little bullock's blood. The finer sorts are friable masses, and are packed in papers; the coarser sewn up in sheep's skin. In this form it is an article of commerce throughout Central and Northern Asia and the Himalayan provinces; and is consumed by Mongols, Tartars, and Tibetans, churned with milk, salt, butter, and boiling water, more as a soup than as tea proper. Certain quantities are forced upon the acceptance of the Western tributaries of the Chinese Empire, in payment for the support of troops, &c.; and is hence, from its convenient size and form, brought into circulation as a coin, over an area greater than that of Europe.—Dr. Hooker, in Jury Reports.
The quantity and value of the tea imported into the United States, from 1821, is thus stated:—
Years. Pounds. Value, dolls. 1821 4,975,646 1,322,636 1822 6,639,434 1,860,777 1823 8,210,010 2,361,245 1824 8,920,487 2,786,812 1825 10,209,548 3,728,935 1826 10,108,900 3,752,281 1827 5,875,638 1,714,882 1828 7,707,427 2,451,197 1829 6,636,790 2,060,457 1830 8,609,415 2,425,018 1831 5,182,867 1,418,037 1832 9,906,606 2,788,353 1833 14,639,822 5,484,603 1834 16,282,977 6,217,949 1835 14,415,572 4,522,806 1836 16,382,114 5,342,811 1837 16,982,384 5,903,054 1838 14,418,112 3,497,156 1839 9,439,817 2,428,419 1840 20,006,595 5,427,010 1841 10,772,087 3,075,332 1842 13,482,645 3,567,745 1843 12,785,748 3,405,627 1844 13,054,327 3,152,225 1845 17,162,550 4,802,621 1846 16,891,020 3,983,337 1847 14,221,410 3,200,056 1848 18,889,217
The annual reports of the Secretary to the Treasury, for the last twenty years, show a considerable increase in the consumption of tea in the United States, but not so great as in the article of coffee. The establishment of tea shops, in all the large cities of America, is a new feature in the retail trade, dating only some six years back.
The average rate of duty, which previously ranged between thirty and thirty-four cents. per pound, was reduced in 1832 to fourteen cents (7d.) a pound.
The proportion of green to black used is shown by the following return of the imports:—
lbs. 1844 Green 10,131,837 Black 4,125,527 ————— Total 14,257,364
1845 Green 13,802,099 Black 6,950,459 ————— Total 20,752,558
The large import of 1840, of 250,000 chests, of which 200,000 were green, was in anticipation of the disturbances arising from the war with Great Britain, and the blockade of the ports.
In 1850, there were 173,317 chests of green tea, and 91,017 of black tea exported from China to America; these quantities, with a further portion purchased from England, made a total of about twenty-three million lbs. of tea which crossed the Atlantic in 1850.
The imports and exports of tea into the United States, in the years ending Dec. 31st, 1848 and 1849, were as follows:—
IMPORTS. 1849. 1848. lbs. lbs. Green 14,237,700 13,686,336 Black 5,999,315 3,815,652 ————— ————— Total 20,236,916 17,503,988
EXPORTS. Green 230,470 262,708 Black 186,650 194,212 ————— ————— Total 417,120 456,920
The value of tea imported into the United States during the year ending June 30th, 1851, amounted to 4,798,006 dollars (nearly L1,000,000 sterling); of this was re-exported a little over 1,000,000 dollars worth, leaving for home consumption 3,668,141 dollars.
The quality of tea depends much upon the season when the leaves are picked, the mode in which it is prepared, as well as the district in which it grows.
The tea districts in China extend from the 27th degree to the 31st degree of north latitude, and, according to missionaries, it thrives in the more northern provinces. Koempfer says it is cultivated in Japan, as far north as 45 degrees. It seems to succeed best on the sides of mountains, among sandstone, schistus, and granite.
In 1834, the East India Company introduced the cultivation of tea in Upper Assam, where it is said to be indigenous; and they now ship large quantities of very excellent tea from thence.
Mr. Boyer, director of the museum at Port Louis, Mauritius, has succeeded in rearing 40,000 tea-trees, and expresses an opinion, that if the island of Bourbon would give itself up to the cultivation, it might easily supply France with all the tea she requires.
The culture has also been commenced on a small scale, in St. Helena, and the Cape Colony.
The cultivation of the tea-tree might be tried with probability of success in Natal, and the Mauritius. The plant grows in every soil, even the most ungrateful; resists the hurricanes, and requires little care. The picking of the leaves, like the pods of cotton, is performed by women, children, and the infirm, without much expense. The preparation is known to the greater part of the Chinese, of whom there are so many in Mauritius; besides, it is not difficult. A Mr. Duprat has, I am informed, planted a certain extent of land in the neighbourhood of Cernpipe, in that island, but I have not yet learnt with what success.
The tea-plant has been successfully cultivated, on a large scale, in the island of Madeira, at an elevation of 3,000 feet above the level of the sea, by Mr. Hy. Veitch, British ex-Consul. The quality of the leaf is excellent. The whole theory of preparing it is merely to destroy the herbaceous taste, the leaves being perfect, when, like hay, they emit an agreeable odor. But to roll up each leaf, as in China, is found too expensive, although boys and girls are employed at about two-pence or three-pence per day. Mr. Veitch has, therefore, tried the plan of compressing the leaves into small cakes, which can be done at a trifling expense. It is performed when the leaf is dry; whereas, the rolling requires moisture, and subsequent roasting on copper plates is necessary to prevent mustiness. In this process the acid of the tea acts upon the copper, and causes that astringency which we remark in all the China teas.
The tea of Cochin China is considered inferior to that of China, being less strong and pleasant in flavour.
An inferior sort of tea, with a leaf twice or thrice as large as that of Bohea, grows wild in the hilly parts of Quang-ai, and is sold at from 12s. 6d. to 40s. the picul of 133lbs.
The Dutch have devoted much attention to tea cultivation in Java, and the plantations are in fine order. Nearly a million lbs. of tea were shipped thence in 1848; but the tea is said to be of inferior quality, and grown and manufactured at considerable expense.
Japan produces both black and green tea. The Japanese prefer the latter to the Chinese green tea. The black tea is very bad. The Japanese tea-tree, is an evergreen, growing in the most sterile places to the height of about six feet. It is described as above, by Koempfer, as having leaves like the cherry, with a flower like the wild rose; when fresh, the leaves have no smell, but a very astringent taste. Tea grows in all the southern provinces of Japan, but the best green is produced in the principality of Kioto, where it is cultivated with great care.
A few years ago, Messrs. Worms attempted the cultivation of tea in Ceylon. The island, however, lies too far within the tropics to offer a climate like Assam, which is situate without them. The plants may thrive to appearance, but that is not a demonstration of their quality. The tea-plant has reached upwards of six feet in height at Pinang, and in as healthy a state as could be desired, but the leaf had no flavor, and although thousands of Chinese husbandmen cultivate spices, and other tropical productions on that island, no one thinks it worth while to extend the cultivation of the tea-plant in Pinang. The Chinese there laugh at the idea of converting the leaf into a beverage.
The cultivation of the tea-plant has been introduced into the United States, and those planters who have tried the experiment have succeeded beyond their highest expectations. Dr. Junius Smith had successfully cultivated the plant on his property called Golden grove, near Grenville, in South Carolina. His plants were in full blossom, and as healthy and flourishing as those of China at the same stage of growth. Everything connected with them looked favorable, and Dr. Smith felt abundantly encouraged to extend the culture of the several descriptions of tea upon his property. It is stated that his expectations were so great, that he contemplated to place fresh tea on the tea-tables of England and Paris in twenty days, from the plantation. He had a large supply of plants, and tea seed enough for a million more. The black descriptions blossomed earlier than the green plant, but the latter also blossomed luxuriantly.
He introduced at first about 500 plants of from five to seven years' growth, overland from the north-west provinces of India, and some from China direct.
In the close of 1849, he writes me:—
"During the past year the tea-plant under my care has passed through severe trials, from the injury received in transplanting, from the heat generated in the packing-cases, from the want of shelter during the severe frosts of February, from the excessive heat in June, and from the drought of 58 days' continuance in July and August. The plants were divested of their leaves and generally of their branches and twigs in February, during my absence in New York. Knowing that the plants were tender, and not fortified by age and mature growth against severe weather, I had directed them to be covered in case a material change of temperature should occur. But these orders were neglected, and they consequently suffered from that cause.
The plant is sufficiently hardy to resist any weather occurring in this part of the country, when seasoned for one year.
The plant has grown thrifty since April, and the quantity of foliage, buds, and blossoms, show that the root has taken strong hold, and is now fully equal to produce its fruit next autumn, which always follows the year after the blossoms. I have a variety of both black and green tea-plants. The buds and blossoms of the latter did not appear until a fortnight after the black tea-plant. But the blossoms were larger when they did appear in September, October, November, and December. From present appearances, I think the blossoms of some of the late plants will continue to unfold until spring. It is not an unusual thing for the blossoms and the fruit to appear at the same time upon the same plant. In this particular it differs from any plant I have seen. As my chief object, at present, is to cultivate and increase the tea-nut, it will be a year or two perhaps before I attempt to convert the leaf into tea. The root supports the leaf and fruit, and the leaf the root, so that neither can be spared without detriment.
This climate appears congenial to the growth of the plant, and the soil is so diversified in this mountainous district, that there is no difficulty in selecting that best adapted to seed-growing plants, or that designed for the leaf only. Upon the plantation purchased this summer, I have light-yellow, dark-brown, and red clay subsoil, of a friable character, with a surface soil sufficiently sandy to answer the demands of the plant. I do not see any reason to doubt, from a year's experience, that the tea-plant in its varieties will flourish in what I heretofore denominated the tea-growing district of the United States, as well as in any part of China.
The slowness of its growth requires patience. But when once established, the tea-nuts will supply the means of extending cultivation, and the duration of the plant for twenty years diminishes the expense of labor. To illustrate the hardihood of the plant, I may observe, that notwithstanding the zero severity of February frost destroyed the leaves and branches of most of the plants, and those now blooming in great beauty and strength are from roots the growth of this summer, I have one green tea-plant the stem and branches of which withstood the frost of February without the slightest protection, and is now a splendid plant, covered with branches and evergreen leaves, affording undeniable evidence not only of its capability of resisting frost, but of its adaptation to just such a degree of temperature.
I have often remarked that the tea-plant requires for its perfection the influence of two separate and distinct climates, the heat of summer and the cold of winter. The thermometer in this vicinity during the heat of summer generally ranges from 74 at 6 o'clock a.m. to 82 at 3 o'clock p.m., only one day during the summer so high as 86.
This is a most agreeable temperature, nights always cool, which the tea-plant enjoys, and the days hot and fanned with the mountain breeze.
The drought I found the most difficult point to contend with, owing to the want of adequate means for irrigation. I lost 20 or 30 plants through this, and learned that no tea plantation should he established without irrigation. After two or three years there will be little necessity for it, because the depth of the roots will generally then protect the plant.
My plantation at Golden Grove is well supplied with water, or I should not have purchased it at any price.
It is the first and most important point to secure a southern or western aspect, a gentle declivity the second, salubrious air and suitable soil the third.
Our country is filled with natural tea plantations, which are only waiting the hand of the husbandman to be covered with this luxuriant and productive plant.
I know the public is naturally impatient of delay. Like corn, it is expected that the tea-nuts will be planted in the spring, and the crop gathered in the autumn. But they forget that the tea-plant does not interfere with any other crop, and when once planted it does not soon require a renewal.
I have sometimes felt this impatience myself, and longed for a cup of tea of my own growing, but I have never had one. As a husbandman, I must wait some time longer, and let patience have her perfect work."
Again, under date May 1, 1850, he states that he has succeeded admirably in the culture. The plants bear the winter well, and their physiology and general characteristics remain unchanged by the change of climate and soil. The leaf puts out at the same period of the year that it does in China.
On the 27th of May, 1850, Dr. Smith received a further batch of trees, fresh, green and healthful, as if still growing in the plantations of China; after a passage of little more than five months. These plants, together with the seedlings and nuts, were of the green tea species, and obtained from a quarter situated about 700 miles from Canton.
In a letter, dated Grenville, S.C., June 17th, 1850, with which I have been favored, he adds:—
"I never heard of the failure of the tea-crop. All vegetation may be retarded, or lessened, or augmented, in its production, in a slight degree, by excessive rains, or drought, or cold, or heat, or atmospheric action; but the tea-plant is sure to produce its leaf. From all I have observed, a decided drought is the most detrimental to the health of the tea plant. The almost continued rains which marked the advance of the past spring, seemed perfectly agreeable to the tea-plant, and facilitated the germination of the tea-nuts. Where any vitality remained in the nut, it was sure to germinate. Curiosity, on this point should be restrained, and no picking and pawing up of the nuts permitted. I have seedlings with tap roots four inches in length, where no appearance of germination is visible upon the surface of the ground. The chances are ten to one that the seedling would be destroyed by the tamperings of idle curiosity. Let nature have her own most perfect work, and see that the enemy, the drought, is vanquished by an abundant supply of water.
From experience, I notice that nothing is more congenial to the germination of the tea-nut than a good stiff blue, clayed soil. The marly colour of the soil is undoubtedly the result of a rich loam, combined with the clay of a lighter hue. The adhesive nature of the clay retains moisture in an eminent degree, and the fertilising qualities of the loam are well known to every bottom land farmer.
Plants put out three weeks ago, after a long voyage from China, are now taking root, and look fresh and vigorous, notwithstanding the recent heat and dryness of the atmosphere. But I have taken unwearied pains in the cultivation. Every plant is sheltered from the scorching influence of the sun, now from 70 deg. to 86 deg. of temperature. Although the soil is naturally moist and clayey, and half bottom land, from the work of gentle acclivities, rising on either hand, yet I have given the plants a liberal watering in the evening. By last summer's drought of fifty-seven days, I was taught the absolute necessity of deep digging and deep planting. None of my plants, of this season's planting, are more than two or three inches above the surface of the ground.
If any of the plants have leaves, as most of them have, below that height, they are planted with the leaves retained; none are removed. Some of the older plants have no leaves remaining, and looked like dry sticks. Many of these are now beginning to break, and put forth fresh leaves."
In 1851, Mr. Frank Bonynge set on foot a subscription list of fifty dollars each, to procure tea and various Indian plants for culture in America. That tea can be grown successfully in Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, is almost certain, because the experiment has been pretty fairly tried, as above shown, by Dr. Smith. The thermometer at Shanghai indicates the cold as more severe by thirteen degrees than at Charleston, South Carolina. The cold winter of 1834-5, which destroyed the oranges in Mr. Middleton's plantation, in Charleston, left his tea plants uninjured.
The question of cultivating tea in California has been seriously discussed, and will no doubt be gone into when the gold digging mania has a little subsided. There is the necessary labor and experience on the spot, in some 12,000 or 14,000 Chinese, most of whom doubtless understand the culture and manufacture. The climate, soil and surface of California exactly answer the requirements for the growth of this plant. The time may yet come when the vast ranges of hills that traverse this State shall present terraces of tea gardens, cultivated by the laborious Chinese, and adding millions to the value of its products.
A company for the cultivation of tea, under the title of the Assam Company, was established in March, 1839; and which, with a called-up capital of L193,337, has made up to the present time very profitable progress; having now got its plantations into excellent cultivation, and all its arrangements in admirable working order, it has sold teas to the amount of L90,000, and has a steam-boat, a considerable plant and machinery.
In the report of the Company, at their annual meeting, held at Calcutta, in Jan., 1850, it was stated, as the result of their operations, that during the year 1849, the manufacturing season was unusually cold and ungenial, in consequence of which the development of leaf for manufacture was much checked. Although some loss was sustained, there was considerable increase in the crop notwithstanding, attributable to the continued improvements in the culture which had been obtained, and improvements over the previous season in some departments of the manufacturing process. The gross quantity of unsorted tea manufactured in the southern division was 207,982 lbs., being 2,673 lbs. less than that of the previous season, but the actual net out-turn was expected to reach 200,000 lbs. As much as 157,908 lbs. of the crop had been already received and shipped to England. These teas consisted chiefly of the finer qualities. Whilst the crops have been thus sensibly advancing in quantity and quality, and the value of the company's plantations permanently raised by extended and improved culture, and some increase to the sowings, the total outlay had been somewhat less than the previous year, the expenditure being limited to L500 for a crop of 12,000 acres of tea. With more extended gardens, the produce will be raised at a yet lower rateable cost than at present.
The number of acres in cultivation in 1849, was about 12,000; these were not all in bearing, but would shortly be so, and the produce from this extent might be estimated at 300,000 lbs., and the cost of producing this would be about L11,000. 1,010 chests of the produce were sold in London on the 13th of March, 1850, at a gross average of 1s. 111/2d. per lb. The produce of 1847, sold in England, was 141,277 lbs., at a gross average of 1s. 8d. per lb.: that of 1848 was 176,149 lbs. which sold at the average of 1s. 81/2d. per lb. The produce of 1849 was 216,000 lbs., and there was every expectation of the average prices realised being higher than those of the previous years. The season was cold and unfavorable, or the crop would have been 10,000 lbs. more.
The exact amounts obtained for the Company's teas in the five years, ending with 1851, will be seen from the following figures:—
Net produce, lbs. Average price. L 1847 144,164 at per lb. ls. 7-1/16d. 11,513 1848 182,953 " ls. 81/4d. 15,436 1849 216,000 " ls. 91/2d. 19,350 1850 253,427 " ls. 6-1/8d. 18,153 1851 271,427 " ls. 81/2d. 22,152 1852 esmtd. 280,000
This exhibits a progressive increase in the aggregate value of the Company's produce, and this has been effected, it is stated, without any sensible increase of the current expenditure. It exhibits also a rise in the value of the tea (157,942 lbs. having been sold at the high average price of 1s. 111/4d.), a fact strongly indicative of its increasing excellence. The details of the crop of the season of 1849 showed a net produce of 237,000 lbs. of tea; so that the Company are increasing their cultivation to the extent of nearly ten per cent, per annum, and the increase will doubtless proceed with greater rapidity, whenever the increase of capital enables the directors to extend their operations.
In a report submitted to the Directors, by Mr. Burkinyoung, the managing director in Calcutta last year, he thus speaks of the Company's field of operations and future prospects:—
"The box-making is especially worthy of notice for its effective organisation and economical arrangement; the work is performed chiefly by Assamese boys instructed at the factory: the number of boxes required for the year's consumption will not be short of four thousand, the whole of which will be made at the factory,—an achievement that cannot be too highly estimated in a country so destitute of mechanical labor.
Notwithstanding the high standard of quality and strength to which our teas have already attained, I am of opinion that, as experience advances, and our knowledge and system of plucking and manufacturing the crops become improved, and better organised, a higher standard of quality and value may yet be realised; in this opinion the superintendent concurs with me, and the attainment of this object is one to which his attention's prominently directed.
In the course of my enquiries and trials of different samples of tea in Assam, my attention was directed to one description of black tea, of rough strong flavor, made by a quicker process than that ordinarily used in the manufacture of black tea: under this mode of manipulation, a quality of tea is produced sufficiently distinctive in its flavor and appearance to render it worthy of attention and trial, and I think, when perfected in the process of manufacture, calculated to come into popular estimation. Samples of this tea the superintendent will forward to the board for trial.
In conducting the operations in Assam, the chief difficulty of importance which has not yet been effectually met is the paucity of labor; this does not, however, exist to the extent of materially checking any of the important operations connected with the production of the tea, but it is felt in the arrear of various descriptions of work, in providing bricks for building, and in the preparation of a stock of seasoned timber and boards for building and box-making; while the out factories would be benefited by a larger proportion of agricultural labor. Great advance, however, has been made by the superintendent in the employment of Assamese labor in contract work: under the arrangement he has established, these contracts are now, for the most part, fulfilled with much punctuality, and there is reason to expect that this system of labor will be further extended. The Kachorie Coolies are a valuable class of laborers, but they do not appear to be sufficiently numerous, or to emigrate in sufficient numbers to afford with the native Assamese a supply of labor altogether equal to our wants, so as to render the concern independent of Bengal labor.
The tea lands are for the most part advantageously situated, within convenient reach of water-carriage, either by the 'Dickhoo,' 'Desang,' and 'Dehing' rivers, or by means of small streams leading to them. The Plantations of the Satsohea and Rookang forests, and on the banks of the Tingri in the Northern Division, are all valuable centres of extension in each district. The lands suitable for tea cultivation are ample in extent, and of the highest fertility; while the Hill Factories of the Southern and Eastern Divisions, although secondary in importance, are, as regards extent and quality of soil, equally eligible as bases of extension.
The prospects of the future, I entertain no doubt, will keep pace with the satisfactory results that have hitherto been realised, looking to the sound organisation that now exists in our establishment at Assam, an organisation that has already taken healthy root, and must in its growth gain strength and permanence. I think we may safely calculate, after the current year, upon an annual increase in our production of 40,000 lbs. of tea, until a larger system of operations can be matured, of which the basis is already laid down, in the new lands cleared and sown during the past cold season, averaging 225 to 250 poorahs; and this extended basis will be doubtless followed up by annual extensions of similar, if not larger, area. The concern is now taking a position which will place it on a scale of working commensurate with the objects entertained upon the first incorporation of the company, the profits now likely to be realised being adequate to all the outlay necessary."
The prices in the last two years in London have been fully maintained at 1s. 3d. to 4s. 4d., according to sorts. Of Assam tea, the sales in the London market in 1851 amounted to 2,200 packages, against 1,900 packages in 1850, and all were freely taken (on account of their great strength) at very full prices. Seventy-six packages of Kumaon tea, both black and green, grown by the East India Company, in the Himalayas, as an experiment, were also brought to sale. They were teas of high quality; but being of the light flavored class, and not duly esteemed in this market, they realised only about their relative value as compared with China teas of similar grade. The Souchong and Pouchong sold at 1s. 11/4d. to 1s. 31/2d.; the Hyson, Imperial, and Gunpowder realised 1s. 73/4d. to 2s. 61/2d.
Mr. Robert Fortune, who, in the service of the Horticultural Society of London, gave such satisfaction by his botanical researches in China, was, on his return to England, in 1848, engaged by the Directors of the East India Company to proceed again to the Celestial Empire, and procure and transmit to India such a quantity and variety of the tea plant, that its cultivation in the north-western provinces would be a matter of mere manual labor. Having penetrated about 300 miles into the interior, he left Hong Kong in the middle of 1851 for Calcutta, with a large quantity of choice plants, selected in the green tea districts, and these have flourished as well as could possibly be expected; so that, in the course of a few years, there is every probability that tea will form a considerable article of export from our Indian Presidencies. Mr. Fortune secured the services of, and took with him, eight Chinese, from the district of Wei-chow, under an agreement for three years, at the rate of fifteen dollars a month each. Six of these are regular tea-manufacturers; the other two are pewterers, whose sole business is that of preparing lead casings for tea-chests.
In the British portion of the Punjaub, it has been resolved to expend L10,000 a year on the cultivation of the tea plant on the banks of the Beas, as well as at Anarkullee, and Kotghur in the Simla jurisdiction. Beyond the Beas there is a series of valleys on to Noonpoor, viz., the Palklun, Kangra, Rillo, &c., from 3,000 to 4,000 feet above the level of the sea, separated from each other by small ranges of hills. The valleys are from three to four miles in breadth, and from sixty to seventy in length: they are sheltered on the north by high mountains. They are described as admirably suited for the cultivation of the plant, now about to be attempted under the able management of Dr. Jamieson. Should it prove successful, the benefits it will confer on the country will be enormous. Tea is a favorite beverage everywhere with the natives: at present their supplies come in scanty measure and bad condition, at extravagant charges, across the frontier.
The cultivation of the tea plant in the highlands of the Punjaub, is likely to be successful, even beyond the hopes of its promoters. Thousands of plants sown in 1849 have attained a height of four or five feet, and there seems no reason why tea should not ultimately become an important article of trade in the Punjaub, as well as in Kumaon. The Indian teas are already becoming popular in the English market, and the cultivators have the advantage of a demand which is almost unlimited, and of prices which seldom fluctuate to any great extent.
The experiment of growing tea in the Madras Presidency has been often successfully tried, on a small scale. A number of plants supplied by government, through Dr. Wallich, were planted in the Shevaroy hills, about twelve or fourteen years since, and have thriven well; but though no doubt is entertained of the ease with which they could be propagated over a wide extent of country, no attempt has been made to give the cultivation a practical turn, or to make a cup of tea from the southern Indian tree. In Coorg, too, the experiment has been tested with like results, so that sufficient warranty exists to justify trials on the largest scale.
Tea plants grow in luxuriance in the open air, at the Botanical Gardens, at Kew. Mr. Bonynge has seen this plant growing wild in N. lat. 27 deg. 30 min. on hills from three to 500 feet in height, where too, there was an abundance of frost, snow and hail.
Those persons in England who possess tea plants, and who cultivate them for pleasure, should always bear in mind that, even in the tea districts of China, this shrub will not succeed if it be planted in low, wet land; and this is, doubtless, one of the reasons why so few persons succeed in growing it in this country. It ought always to be planted on a warm sloping bank, in order to give it a fair chance of success. If some of the warm spots of this kind in the south of England or Ireland were selected, who knows but that our cottagers might be able to grow their own tea? at all events, they might have the fragrant herb to look upon.
The Dutch made the first movement to break the charm of Chinese monopoly, by introducing and cultivating the tea plant in their rich and fruitful colony of Java. That island lies between the sixth and eighth degrees of south latitude.
In 1828, the first experiment in the cultivation of tea was made in the garden of the Chateau of Burtenzorg, at Java, where 800 plants of an astonishing vigor, served as an encouragement to undertake this culture, and considerable plantations were made in many parts of the island. The first trials did not answer to the expectations, as far as regards the quality of the article, the astringent taste and feeble aroma of which caused the conjecture that the preparation of the leaf, and its final manipulation, are not exactly according to the process used in China. At present tea is cultivated in thirteen Residencies: but the principal establishment, where the final manipulation is made, is in the neighbourhood of Batavia. The tea which Java now furnishes yearly to the markets of the mother country, may be stated at from 200,000 to 300,000 pounds. It is intimated that the government intends to abandon this culture to the industry of private individuals, under the guarantee of equitable contracts.
The mountain range, which runs through the centre of the island, is the most productive, because the tea gardens, extending from near the base, high up the mountains, reach an atmosphere tempered by elevation. The plant escapes the scorching heats of the torrid zone, and finds a climate, by height rather than by latitude, adapted to its nature. But the plant is not confined to lofty ridges. In the plains, the hedges and fences, if one may so call them, are all planted with the tea shrub, which flourish in greater or less perfection throughout the island. But, as has already been intimated, the equatorial latitudes are not the most auspicious for the vigorous growth of a plant that requires a temperature equally removed from the extremes of heat and cold, and the quality of the tea is as much affected by the climate as the growth of the plant. A considerable quantity of tea is annually shipped from Java to Europe; but the extension of the cultivation is no doubt checked by the exceeding fertility of the soil, and its adaptation to the growth of the rich products of tropical regions.
Mr. Jacobson, inspector of tea culture in Java, has published at Batavia a work in three volumes, upon the mode of cultivating this plant, upon the choice of grounds, and the best processes for the preparation and manipulation of the leaves. This book, the fruit of many years of experience and care given to the subject, has been well received by the cultivators who devote themselves to this branch of industry. If, by means of careful experiments and experience, the government succeed in conferring on the island of Java this important branch of commerce, she may hope to obtain brilliant results; at all events, it will open to the country a new source of prosperity and riches.
An interesting account of the tea plants, and the manufacture of tea, will be found in Fortune's "Wanderings in China," in Ball's "Account of the Cultivation and Manufacture of Tea," Boyle's "Illustrations of Himalayan Botany," and his "Productive Resources of India."
From Fortune's "Travels" I take the following extract:—
"There are few subjects connected with the vegetable kingdom which have attracted such a large share of public notice as the tea-plant of China. Its cultivation on the Chinese hills, the particular species of variety which produces the black and green teas of commerce, and the method of preparing the leaves, have always been objects of peculiar interest. The jealousy of the Chinese government in former times, prevented foreigners from visiting any of the districts where tea is cultivated; and the information derived from the Chinese merchants, even scanty as it was, was not to be depended upon. And hence we find our English authors contradicting each other; some asserting that the black and green teas are produced by the same variety, and that the difference in colour is the result of a different mode of preparation; while others say that the black teas are produced from the plant called by botanists Thea Bohea, and the green from Thea viridis, both of which we have had for many years in our gardens in England. During my travels in China since the last war, I have had frequent opportunities of inspecting some extensive tea districts in the black and green tea countries of Canton, Fokien, and Chekiang: the result of these observations is now laid before the reader. It will prove that even those who have had the best means of judging have been deceived, and that the greater part of the black and green teas which are brought yearly from China to Europe and America are obtained from the same species or variety, namely, from the Thea viridis. Dried specimens of this plant were prepared in the districts I have named, by myself, and are now in the herbarium of the Horticultural Society of London, so that there can be no longer any doubt upon the subject. In various parts of the Canton provinces where I have had an opportunity of seeing tea cultivated, the species proved to be the Thea Bohea, or what is commonly called the black tea plant. In the green tea districts of the north—I allude more particularly to the province of Chekiang—I never met with a single plant of this species, which is so common in the fields and gardens near Canton. All the plants in the green tea country near Ningpo, on the islands of the Chusan Archipelago, and in every part of the province which I have had an opportunity of visiting, proved, without an exception, to be Thea viridis. Two hundred miles further to the north-west, in the province of Kiangnan, and only a short distance from the tea hills in that quarter, I also found in gardens the same species of tea. Thus far my actual observations exactly verified the opinions I had formed on the subject before I left England, viz: that the black teas were prepared from the Thea Bohea, and the green from Thea viridis. When I left the north, on my way to the city of Foo-chow-foo, on the river Min, in the province Fokien, I had no doubt that I should find the tea hills there covered with the other species, Thea Bohea, from which we generally suppose the black teas are made; and this was the more likely to be the case as this species actually derives its specific name from the Bohea hills in this province. Great was my surprise to find all the plants on the tea hills near Foo-chow exactly the same as those in the green tea districts of the north. Here were, then, green tea plantations on the black tea hills, and not a single plant of the Thea Bohea to be seen. Moreover, at the time of my visit, the natives were busily employed in the manufacture of black teas. Although the specific differences of the tea plant were well known to me, I was so much surprised, and I may add amused, at this discovery, that I procured a set of specimens for the herbarium, and also dug up a living plant, which I took northward to Chekiang. On comparing it with those which grow on the green tea hills, no difference whatever was observed. It appears, therefore, that the black and green teas of the northern districts of China (those districts in which the greater part of the teas for the foreign market are made) are both produced from the same variety, and that that variety is the Thea viridis, or what is commonly called green tea plant. On the other hand those black and green teas which are manufactured in considerable quantities in the vicinity of Canton, are obtained from the Thea Bohea, or black tea.
In the green tea districts of Chekiang, near Ningpo, the first crop of leaves is generally gathered about the middle of April. This consists of the young leaf buds just as they begin to unfold, and forms a fine and delicate kind of young hyson, which is held in high estimation by the natives, and is generally sent about in small quantities as presents to their friends. It is a scarce and expensive article, and the picking off the leaves in such a young state does considerable injury to the tea plantation. The summer rains, however, which fall copiously about this season, moisten the earth and air; and if the plants are young and vigorous, they soon push out fresh leaves. In a fortnight or three weeks from the time of the first picking, the shrubs are again covered with fresh leaves, and are ready for the second gathering, which is the most important of the season. The third and last gathering, which takes place as soon as new leaves are formed, produces a very inferior kind of tea, which is rarely sent out of the district. The mode of gathering and preparing the leaves of the tea plant is very simple. We have been so long accustomed to magnify and mystify everything relating to the Chinese, that in all their arts and manufactures we expect to find some peculiar practice, when the fact is, that many operations in China are more simple in their character than in most parts of the world. To rightly understand the process of rolling and drying the leaves, which I am about to describe, it must be borne in mind that the grand object is to expel the moisture, and at the same time to retain as much as possible of the aromatic and other desirable secretions of the species. The system adopted to attain this end is as simple as it is efficacious. In the harvest seasons, the natives are seen in little family groups on the side of every hill, when the weather is dry, engaged in gathering tea leaves. They do not seem so particular as I imagined they would have been in this operation, but strip the leaves off rapidly and promiscuously, and throw them all into round baskets, made for the purpose out of split bamboo or ratan. In the beginning of May, when the principal gathering takes place, the young seed-vessels are about as large as peas. These are also stripped off and mixed with the leaves; it is these seed-vessels which we often see in our tea, and which has some slight resemblance to capers. When a sufficient quantity of leaves are gathered, they are carried home to the cottage or barn, where the operation of drying is performed."
This is minutely described, and the author continues:—
"I have stated that the plants grown in the districts of Chekiang produce green teas, but it must not be supposed that they are the green teas which are exported to England. The leaf has a much more natural color, and has little or none of what we call the 'beautiful bloom' upon it, which is so much admired in Europe and America. There is now no doubt that all these 'blooming' green teas, which are manufactured at Canton, are dyed with Prussian blue and gypsum, to suit the taste of the foreign 'barbarians;' indeed the process may be seen any day, during the season, by those who give themselves the trouble to seek after it. It is very likely that the same ingredients are also used in dyeing the northern green teas for the foreign market; of this, however, I am not quite certain. There is a vegetable dye obtained from Isatis indigotica much used in the northern districts, and called Teinsing; and it is not unlikely that it may be the substance which is employed. The Chinese never use these dyed teas themselves, and I certainly think their taste in this respect is more correct than ours. It is not to be supposed that the dye used can produce any very bad effects on the consumer, for, had this been the case, it would have been discovered before now; but if entirely harmless or inert, its being so must be ascribed to the very small quantity which is employed in the manufacture."
In short, the black and green teas which are generally exported to England and the United States from the northern provinces of China, are made from the same species; and the difference of color, flavor, &c., is solely the result of the different modes of preparation.
I shall make an extract, also, from Williams's "Middle Kingdom:"—
"The native names given to the various sorts of tea are derived for the most part from their appearance or place of growth; the names of many of the best kinds are not commonly known abroad. Bohea is the name of the Wu-i hills, (or Bu-i, as the people on the spot call them,) where the tea is grown, and not a term for a particular sort among the Chinese, though it is applied to a very poor kind of black tea at Canton. Sunglo is likewise a general term for the green teas produced on the hills in Kiangsu. The names of the principal varieties of black tea are as follows: Pecco, 'white hairs,' so called from the whitish down on the leaves, is one of the choicest kinds, and has a peculiar taste; Orange Pecco, called shang hiang, or 'most fragrant,' differs from it slightly; Hungmuey, 'red plum blossoms,' has a slightly reddish tinge; the terms prince's eyebrows, carnation hair, lotus kernel, sparrow's tongue, fir-leaf pattern, dragon's pellet, and dragon's whiskers, are all translations of the native names of different kinds of Souchong or Pecco. Souchong, or siau chung, means little plant or sort, as Pouchong, or folded sort, refers to the mode of packing it; Campoi is corrupted from kan pei i.e. carefully fired; Chulan is the tea scented with the chulan flower, and applied to some kinds of scented green tea. The names of green teas are less numerous: Gunpowder, or ma chu, i.e. hemp pearl, derives its name from the form into which the leaves are rolled; ta chu or 'great pearl,' and chu lan, or 'pearl flower,' denote two kinds of Imperial; Hyson, or yu tsien, i.e. before the rains, originally denoted the tenderest leaves of the plant, and is now applied to Young Hyson; as is also another name, mei pein, or 'plum petals;' while hi chun, 'flourishing spring,' describes Hyson; Twankay is the name of a stream in Chehkiang, where this sort is produced; and Hyson skin, or pi cha, i.e. skin tea, is the poorest kind, the siftings of the other varieties; Oolung, 'black dragon,' is a kind of black tea with green flavor. Ankoi teas are produced in the district of Nganki, not far from Tsiuenchau fu, possessing a peculiar taste, supposed to be owing to the ferruginous nature of the soil. De Guignes speaks of the Pu-'rh tea, from the place in Kiangsu where it grows, and says it is cured from wild plants found there; the infusion is unpleasant, and is used for medical purposes. The Mongols and others in the west of China prepare tea by pressing it, when fresh, into cakes like bricks, and thoroughly drying it in that shape to carry in their wanderings.
"Considering the enormous labor of preparing tea, it is surprising that even the poorest kind can be afforded to the foreign purchaser at Canton, more than a thousand miles from the place of its growth, for 9d. and less a pound; and in their ability to furnish it at this rate, the Chinese have a security of retaining the trade in their hands, notwithstanding the efforts to grow the plant elsewhere. Comparatively little adulteration is practised, if the amount used at home and abroad be considered, though the temptation is great, as the infusion of other plants is drunk instead of the true tea. The poorer natives substitute the leaves of a species of Rhamnus or Fallopia, which they dry; Camellia leaves are perhaps mixed up with it, but probably to no great extent. The refuse of packing-houses is sold to the poor at a low rate, under the name of tea endings and tea bones; and if a few of the rarest sorts do not go abroad, neither do the poorest. It is a necessary of life to all classes of Chinese, and that its use is not injurious is abundantly evident from its general acceptance and extending adoption; and the prejudice against it among some out of China may be attributed chiefly to the use of strong green tea, which is no doubt prejudicial. If those who have given it up on this account will adopt a weaker infusion of black tea, general experience is proof that it will do them no great harm, and they may be sure that they will not be deceived by a colored article; Neither the Chinese nor Japanese use milk or sugar in their tea, and the peculiar taste and aroma of the infusion is much better perceived without those additions; nor can it be drunk so strong without tasting an unpleasant bitterness, which the milk partly hides. The Japanese sometimes reduce the leaves to a powder, and pour boiling water through them in a cullender, in the same way that coffee is often made."
The following valuable details as to the cultivation and manufacture of tea in British India, are from interesting reports by Dr. Jameson, Superintendent of the Company's Botanical Gardens in the North West Provinces, published in 1847 in the Journal of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society of Calcutta;—and from Mr. Robert Fortune's report to the Hon. East India Company:—
The quantity manufactured.—The quantity of tea manufactured from five plantations, of 89 acres in all, amounted in 1845 to 610 lb. 2 oz., and in 1846, on 115 acres, to l,023 lb. ll oz. The small nursery of Lutchmisser, consisting of three acres of land, gave a return in 1845 of 216 lb., or 2 maunds and 56 pounds; in 1846 the return was 272 lbs., or 3 maunds and 32 pounds.
The small plantation of Kuppeena, established in 1841-2, and then consisting of three acres (but increased in 1844 to four), yielded in 1845, 1 maund and 56 pounds, and in 1846, 2 maunds and 56 pounds. Thus we have received from a plantation of only five years' formation, and of four acres (one of these recently added), upwards of 21/2 maunds of tea, and from another, Lutchmisser, of three acres, which was established in 1835-6, 3 maunds and 30 pounds, equal to 272 pounds. I have, in a former report, asserted that the minimum return of tea for an acre of land may be estimated at 1 pucka maund, or 80 lb. The only plantations that I can as yet bring forward in favour of my assertion, are the two above-mentioned: Kuppeena has not yielded the proportion mentioned, but it was only established in 1841-42, and the tea-plants do not come into full bearing until the eighth year; on the other hand, Lutchmisser has given more than the average return. I think, therefore, that the returns already yielded are highly favorable, and that though the data are small, they are very satisfactory.