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quently been the result of accident. This should teach us the habit of observation. The bulk of mankind observe little, and reflect less, which accounts for many persons in advanced life having few ideas of their own.
CECILIA. You have so often inculcated the advantage of observing the nature and texture of every thing we use, that it becomes an amusing custom, when we are by ourselves, to question each other on the qualities of those things that attract our notice. This morning at breakfast, tea, coffee, and chocolate, were the subjects of enquiry. None of us were capable of giving a good account of them, without having recourse to books for information. We each chose our topic; and I believe Henry can inform us in what manner coffee is cultivated and prepared. Charles selected the cacao-tree for his investigation. The tea-tree, of course, fell to my share.
MRS. HARCOURT. Pray let us be amused with the result of your researches. Cecilia, your brothers will not take the lead: they resign the precedence to you.
CECILIA. The tea-tree, according to Lin
næus, is of the polyandria monogynia class. The cup is a very small, plane, permanent perianthum, divided into five or six roundish obtuse leaves. The flower consists of six or nine large, roundish, concave, and equal petals; the stamina are numerous filaments, about two hundred, and are very slender, capillary, and shorter than the flower: the fruit is a capsule, formed of three globular bodies; growing together; it contains three cells, and opens into three parts at the top: the seeds are single, globose, and internally annulated. It is supposed that there is hut one species of this tree, and that the difference between green and bohea tea consists only in the manner of cultivation, and drying the leaves. The root resembles that of the peach-tree. The leaves are long and narrow, and jagged all round: the flower is much like that of the wild rose, but smaller: the fruit contains two or three seeds, of a mouse-colour, containing each a kernel: these are the seeds by which the plant is propa gated. Several of these are put promiscuously into a hole, four or five inches deep,
at proper distances from each other, and require no other care. In about seven years, the shrub rises to a man's height, which it seldom greatly exceeds.
MR. HARCOURT. You have forgotten to tell us of what country this shrub is a native.
CECILIA. It is cultivated in Japan, and grows abundantly in China, where whole fields are planted with it, as it forms a very extentive article of commerce among the Chinese. It loves to grow in valleys, at the foot of mountains, and upon the banks of rivers, where it enjoys a southern exposure to the sun: though it endures considerable variations of heat and cold, flourishing through the different degrees of climate in the extensive kingdom of China. Sometimes the tea trees grow on the steep declivities of hills, when it is dangerous, and in some cases impracticable, to get at them. The Chinese are said to make use of the large monkeys, that dwell among these cliffs, to assist them in obtaining the valuable leaves of the tea-trees. They irritate these animals; and, in revenge, they climb the trees and break off the branches,
and throw them down the precipice, which gives the gatherers an opportunity of reaching them.
AUGUSTA. What part of this shrub is applied to our use? CECILIA.
The leaves constitute the tea we use. The best time to gather them is whilst they are small, young, and juicy: they are plucked carefully one by one; and notwithstanding the tediousness of this operation, the labourers are able to gather from four to fifteen pounds each, in one day. The buildings, or drying-houses, that are erected for curing tea, contain from five to twenty small furnaces, each having, at the top, a low, flat, iron pan. There is also a long, large table, covered with mats, on which the leaves are laid, and rolled by workmen, who sit round. it. The iron pan being heated to a certain degree, by a little fire made in the furnace underneath, a few pounds of the fresh-gathered leaves are put upon the pan. The fresh and juicy leaves crack when they touch the pan; and it is the business of the operator to shift them as quickly as possible with his bare
hands, till they become too hot to be endured. At this instant, he takes off the leaves with a kind of shovel, and pours them on the mats before the rollers, who taking small quantities at a time, roll them in the palms of their hands, in one direction; while others are fanning them, that they may cool the more speedily, and retain their curl the longer. This process is repeated two or three times, or oftener, before the tea is put into the store, in order that all the moisture of the leaves may be thoroughly dissipated, and their curl more completely preserved. On every repetition the pan is less heated, and the operation performed more slowly and cautiously: the tea is then separated into the different kinds, and deposited in the store, for domestic use or exportation. The Chinese drink tea more frequently than the Europeans: it is the chief treat with which they regale their friends; and it is said that it is a branch of polite education in that country, to learn to infuse and serve it gracefully. It was introduced into Europe very early in the seventeenth century, by the Dutch East India Company. About