Tag Archive for: tea

Last month marked the 650th anniversary of the Treaty of Tagilde, which led to the formation of the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance – the oldest alliance in the world still in force. Only a small stone memorial in Tagilde (Vizela), reminds us that more than six centuries ago the northern village in the Braga district was the site of a historic pact, signed at its church of São Salvador on July 10, 1372.

Its importance was underscored when the Portuguese prime minister António Costa recently met Boris Johnson to sign an agreement on foreign policy, education, security, and trade.

They inspected the original version of the treaty – which had been moved to Downing Street for the occasion by the National Archives – and commemorated the alliance that has not only survived world wars, the rise and fall of empires, and decolonization but also promoted pleasures such as port and tea.

It all started with an English claim for the throne of Castile, Portugal’s old foe.
That is not absurd as it sounds as England had large possessions in the southwest of France that bordered Castile.

The treaty was signed by King Ferdinand I of Portugal and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and third son of the English King Edward III. The document is written in the original Castilian language to reflect John’s claim to the Castilian throne.
The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance agreed that both England and Portugal would wage war against Castile on two fronts; the English on the north and the Portuguese on the west. In 1385, the Portuguese army, with help from English archers, defeated Castilian forces in the Battle of Aljubarrota.

More than three centuries later, Catherine of Braganza, daughter of King John IV of Portugal married King Charles II of England in 1662 to become queen.
She helped to popularise tea in England and supported the Methuen treaty in 1703, which bolstered the port trade. She is also said to have made popular orange marmalade and the use of the fork.

To end with, the alliance played an important role in World War II when Britain was given facilities in the Azores to help in the Battle of the Atlantic against German submarines. But it also survived difficult times such as the 1890 British Ultimatum, which forced the retreat of Portuguese forces from areas in Africa that had been claimed by Portugal but occupied by Britain.

Enjoy the week            Boa semana                          (pic Público/Times)

The Chinese leaf that conquered the world

There are roughly two ways to say tea in the world. One is like the English expression – thee in Dutch, tee in German or thé in French. The other is a variation of cha – chay in Russian, chai in Swahili or shay in Arabic. Both variations come from China. The words that sound like cha spread across the land, the tea saying spread over water.

The term cha – Chinese for tea – originates from central China and made its way through Asia – along the Silk Road over 2000 years ago – becoming chay in Hindi and Persian.
But the Chinese character for cha is pronounced as te in the Min Nan variety of Chinese, spoken in the coastal province of Fujian.
This te form spread to Europe via the Dutch East Indian Company, who became the primary traders of tea between Europe and China in the 17th century.

Yet the Dutch were not the first in Asia. That privilege belonged to the Portuguese, who didn’t trade through Fujian but Macao, where cha is used. That’s why of all Western European countries only Portugal uses the cha word for tea!

Although it’s fairly commonly known that tea originated in China, it is far less known that it was a particular Portuguese woman, who inspired its popularity in England. Let’s go back to 1662, when Catherine of Braganza – daughter of Portugal’s King John IV – married England’s King Charles II, and became the Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Travelling up north to join her husband, she is said to have taken along loose-leaf tea, that was popular among Portugal’s aristocracy.

When Catherine arrived in England, tea was being consumed there only as herbal medicine and very expensive. The reason for the cost was that England had no direct trade with China and the small quantities the Dutch were importing were so pricey, that only the wealthiest could afford it. Tea became associated with the elite women’s society around the royal court, of which Catherine was the famous centrepiece.

‘The best of Queens, and the best of herbs, we owe
To that bold nation, which the way did show
To the fair region where the sun doth rise,
Whose rich productions we so justly prize.

( Birthday ode to Queen Catherine. Edmund Waller, 1663 )

Aproveite sua semana                   Enjoy your week          (pic 2 qz.com)