Friday, May 11, 2007

History of Tea in an Orange Poppy

This orange oriental poppy (grown by the DH) fills my day with color. It's rather gray here today, though perfect for capturing the poppy on digital "film" with its peak color. No bright sunlight to wash out the color.

This is an oriental poppy, considered a "low morphine" poppy and approved for general gardening. The seeds of the high morphine varieties of the opium poppy are controlled as they are used to make several narcotics - morphine, codeine, opium, etc.

Do you know the tea connection to poppies? In the late 1830s (time of Queen Victoria), Britain and China were engaged in trade. Britain wanted tea in a big way, but didn't have much that China needed or wanted. Britain started trading silver, but that wasn't efficient. Britain ended up trading opium to China, in exchange for tea. China was having a social crisis with the addiction of much of its population to Opium. In short, China attempted to ban the importation of Opium. The Opium Wars erupted. Britain ultimately prevailed and required an unfair treaty with China. Some historians believe this was the beginning of the downfall of the Qing dynasty in China. To read more, see the Opium Wars in wikipedia. Also see New Tea Lover's Treasury, by James Norwood Pratt (check the index for pages).

There you have it - a bit of tea history, all the way from my garden today to China in the 1830s.


Jes said...

LOVE those big poppies!! I still don't have any in my garden, but a friend promised to give me some seeds this year!!

OMG...I was just about to hit "publish comment" when I realized I had typed "poopies" instead of "poppies"! That would have been a funny sentence indeed! LOL

Steph said...

Jes - that's so funny! I had the same fear and did a quick scan of my post. ;-) Wouldn't that have been funny and ironic, tho? Hee hee

Denise said...

What a great connection, Steph - poppies and tea. Well done, and very interesting!