Legend has it that in nearly 3,000 years BC the Chinese Emperor, Shen Nung, was sitting outside when leaves from the evergreen shrub Camellia sinensis fell into some boiling water which he then tasted – and so tea was born!
Traders from the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie)(VOC) first brought tea from China to Holland at the beginning of the 17th century where it became very popular & it was Dutch traders that brought tea to Poland.
Tea is mentioned in the mid 17th century by King Jan Kazimierz II (1609-1672) in a letter to his wife Ludowika Maria(1611-1667) and the drink became very popular with the nobility.
Tea in Polish is herbata which comes from the Dutch Herba thee & which earlier may have been from the Latin Herba thea.
Cza (cha) – is a Chinese word for tea and in Polish the word for a teapot is czajnik.
Poland – a country of tea drinkers
I think tea could be classed as Poland’s national drink and per capita per annum the Polish consumption is the 4th in Europe (figures from 2014) following Ireland, the UK and Russia & in 9th place globally, ahead of Japan and Saudi Arabia.
A typical Pole drinks a glass of tea for breakfast, lunch, dinner & supper and in between as well.
Serving Tea in Poland
Tea is served as “black” tea – though in fact it is very light weak tea – it is never served with milk. It is served on its own or with slices of lemon or a small amount of fruit syrup such as cherry or raspberry.
The syrup in the photographs below is raspberry – malina
Tea was often served with honey although nowadays it is more likely to be served with sugar. However I usually drink my tea without sweetness, except when I add some fruit syrup.
Polish honey from the lime tree also know as the linden tree.
The Polish for July is lipiec – meaning the month of the linden blossom – many Polish cities have parks and avenues with linden trees & in July the air is heady with the scent.
Porcelain lidded sugar bowl by TCM Germany – bought in a second hand shop in Krakòw
The tradition way is to brew a very strong solution of tea called esencja (essence) and this is poured into a glass or cup and boiling water added to make a very light coloured – weak tea.
Often a samowar was used with the strong essence of tea kept in the little teapot (often this could be a little enamel pot) and the samowar is used to boil the water and keep the essence warm.
Samo means by itself …. war means to heat or to boil.
The photographs are of my samowar which is electric – It was made in the 1980s.
My father talked about their samowar in Poland which had a tube in the centre into which you put hot charcoal to heat the water.
Nowadays tea bags are often used and a very popular brand is Yellow Label from Unilever Polska – Liptons .
Thomas Lipton(1848-1931) was from Glasgow, Scotland and Lipton Yellow Label has been sold since 1890 when the first version of the Yellow pack with a red Lipton shield was used.
Strangely enough this brand of tea is not marketed in the UK – I used to bring it back from Poland – now I can buy it in all the Polish shops.
Tea was always served in tall glasses often with a holder of metal or straw . Many years ago I had a big clear out and got rid of my straw holders – I so regret that now!
Images below from photos on the World Wide Web
Last Saturday, I went to the second hand market in Huddersfield and found 2 pairs of tea glass holders, 1 pair in stainless steel & 1 pair in silver plate. They have cleaned up very well – I am so pleased I found them.
Glass handled mugs are a substitute.
China cups and saucers are also used on many occasions –
Herbata & Sernik (Polish Cheesecake)
Royal Albert tea set – Primulette from the 1950s
Tea is often used in baking, it can be used to soak dried fruits before making a cake or as part of a poncz (punch) to drizzle over a cake such as a yeast babka.
Tea & Chocolate babka
The cake stand & pastry forks are Crazy Daisy (21st Century design) by Portmeirion
The tea service is Lyndale, by Royal Standard from the 1950s.
The green teapot is Cafe Culture by Maxwell Williams.