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The story of the origin of tea

by Joyce Hollister

One of the most popular legends explaining the origin of tea is that of the Chinese emperor, Shen Nung.

Shen Nung, a man of healing, had observed that people who boiled water before drinking it were in better health than those who did not.

One day, supposedly in 2737 B.C., the emperor’s servant was was boiling water when leaves from a nearby camellia sinensis bush flew into the kettle.

The leaves enriched the taste and added an aroma that pleased the emperor. From then on, he served his drinking water flavored with the leaves of the camellia sinensis.

Today, most tea leaves come from the evergreen shrub, which is found in mild climates.

According to Gail Greco, author of “Tea-Time at the Inn,” India and other countries have their own versions of the beginning of tea-drinking, but the Chinese version is the most quoted.

In her book, Greco offers recipes for formal afternoon teas, informal teas, high teas, romantic teas, theme teas, specialty teas and holiday and seasonal teas provided by some of cooks in the best inns and bed and breakfast hotels in America.

She tells how to make such delicious tea-time goodies as raspberry-blueberry cream tart and English tea cinnamon scones.

“Tea-Time at the Inn” will be one of the books to be given away at a raffle at the Victorian Valentine High Tea and Fashion Show coming in February in Genoa.

Other gifts in the raffle include china teapots and gift baskets. The grand prize is an overnight stay at Sorensen’s resort in Hope Valley, donated by Sorensen’s, and dinner for two at the resort, donated by the Carson Valley Historical Society.

A window display of the raffle prizes is on exhibit at the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center, 1477 Highway 395 in Gardnerville, open seven days a week.

During the tea, K.C. Brennan, a Douglas County teacher who has a large collection of Victorian women’s clothing and accessories, will walk among the guests wearing four different authentic Victorian outfits.

“This is a great opportunity to invite a dear friend, mother, daughter or husband to share an historical visit to the women’s fashion styles of 100 years ago,” said Liz Paul, historical society chair. “For ladies who are willing to add another dimension of authenticity to the event by wearing a Victorian era hat (an heirloom of of their own creation), there will be a judging to choose a winner for a special prize.”

The historical society’s special events committee is hosting the Victorian Valentine High Tea and Fashion show Feb. 8, 1 p.m., at the Riverbend Grille at the Genoa Lakes Golf Course.

Tickets will be sold only in advance. Cost is $25. Raffle tickets are $1 each or six for $5. For more information, call Roxanne Manfredi, 265-4328, or Terri Hickey, 782-2164.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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