Small Beginnings: The chilly mornings are calling for a cup of tea

Iím not sure where the warm weather is. I suppose we are all impatient for it to arrive and remain. I for one am simply ready for my heat to stop running! I was hoping that last tank full of oil would last for a few months but I am beginning to doubt it. My one consolation is that when I get up early and itís nippy in the morning, a piping hot cup of tea really hits the spot and wakes me up to boot. Thatís why I am paying homage to the happy little leaves in the flow through bags in this column devoted to tea trivia. Bottoms up.

Did you know that tea bags were invented in America in the early 1800s, and were initially used to hold samples of teas brought from India? Today, 96% of all cups of tea served around the world were made using teabags.

Did you know that there are many different kinds of tea, but they are all derived from just one plant: Camellia sinensis? The color and variety of the tea (green, black, white, oolong) depends, however, on the way the leaves are treated.

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Did you know that in England to stay alert, at eleven oíclock in the morning, itís common to take a break with a cup of tea and some cakes? They call this Elevenses and you Lord of the Rings fans out there will recognize this as a Hobbit favorite.

Did you know that after tourism, the cultivation of tea is Indiaís second largest industry? And India tea is the variety most commonly drunk the world over, despite the fact that it originally came from China.

Did you know that loose tea is, according to connoisseurs, is the best way to enjoy tea? The quality of the tea leaves, which are often whole, and not broken up as in tea bags, is often higher, and retains more of their original flavor.

Did you know that tea leaves are a natural means of keeping mosquitoes away? All you have to do is use slightly damp leaves to add the scent of tea to the areas you want to keep insect-free.

Tea is not just for drinking. Here are five good reasons for not giving up tea, even if you donít drink it - it helps to heal shaving cuts, eliminates bad odors when added to a foot bath, can be used to marinade meat, is a great fertilizer for roses, and is also good for cleaning floors. (I donít have more details on precise applications for any of these expanded uses for tea. Google it if youíre interested.)

Do you know who said this: ďWomen are like tea bags. They do not know how strong they are until they get into hot water.Ē It was Eleanor Roosevelt. I really like that quote!

Did you know that the stimulant found in tea leaves is theanine, an antioxidant whose equivalent in coffee is caffeine? Tea, however, contains less caffeine than coffee: around half the amount.

Did you know that tea is a natural antioxidant? It is also rich in vitamins. It contains vitamins B2, B1 and B6. Tea, however, is also rich in potassium, manganese, folic acid and calcium. Forget your supplements and have a cup of tea!

Experts have various opinions on the best kind of water that should be used for making tea. Many recommend filtered water or bottled water, but in early Chinese texts we find suggestions that the best water should be taken from rivers and lakes. I personally would not follow this advice nowadays. Stick with your Brita filter!

These are some interesting facts about one of my favorite beverages that I have gathered over time, as I entertain my need to know nonsense. I hope you enjoyed the trivia and even more I hope you find a quiet moment today to enjoy a lovely cup of tea!