Friday, May 18, 2007

Afternoon "Cha"

While spending the weekend with 3 English, it is almost impossible to avoid the issue “tea”. But though I have a lot to learn from them in these matters, I could share something about it that most of the English people do not know about this custom.

In fact, the custom of drinking tea was introduced in England by means of a Portuguese princess that became the queen consort of King Charles II of England in the XVII century: Catarina de Bragança (Catherine of Braganza for the English).

And it is easy to understand why: Portuguese had a major part of the tea commerce to Europe and tea was a common product for the nobelty and bourgeoisy. English adopted the habit and took it to another stage, that of a national custom and tradition. Such a strong one that Blair has recently mentioned his regret not to have done enough to promote the traditional British cup of tea during is term in office.

Going back to Catarina de Bragança, she had clearly a strong impact in Great Britain and in what was to be the Empire. As an example, the important and strategic port cities of Tangier and Bombay where part of her dowry, being transferred from Portuguese to British control. And the control of Bombay lead to the control of India later on. As an ending note, the area of Queens, in New York City, is also said to be named after her.

It is just curious that finally the British did not adopt the same denomination for tea as the portuguese, the one based in the cantonese name: Chá !


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