Meshed had formerly a great transit trade to Central Asia, of European manufactures, mostly Manchester goods, which came by way of Trebizond, Tabriz and Teheran; and of Indian goods and produce, mostly muslins and Indian and green teas, which came by way of Bander Abbasi.
In 1894 the Russian government enforced new customs regulations, by which a heavy duty is levied on Anglo-Indian manufactures and produce, excepting pepper, ginger and drugs, imported into Russian Asia by way of Persia; and the importation of green teas is altogether prohibited except by way of Batum, Baku, Uzunada and the Transcaspian railway.
Another river of note is the Chang Kiang, which has its source in the province of Ngan-hui and flows into the Po-yang Lake, connecting in its course the Wuyuen district, whence come the celebrated "Moyune" green teas, and the city of King-to-chen, celebrated for its pottery, with Jao-chow Fu on the lake.
The black "Kaisow" teas are brought from the Ho-kow district, where they are grown, down the river Kin to Juy-hung on the lake, and the Siu-ho connects by a navigable stream I-ning Chow, in the neighbourhood of which city the best black teas of this part of China are produced, with Wu-ching, the principal mart of trade on the lake.
Tea, oni the contrary, is prepared and packed on the estates; but there is a considerable amount of work still done in the Colombo stores in sorting, blending and repacking such teas as are sold at the local public sales; also in dealing with cacao, cardainoms, cinchona bark and the remnant still left of the coffee indiustry.
From Bengal are imported opium, drugs and cloths; from China, teas, raw silk, silk piece-goods, coarse China wares, paper, and innumerable smaller articles for the Chinese settlers.
The order then given to their agents was for "teas of the best kind to the amount of Too dollars."
The first direct purchase in China was made at Amoy, the teas previously obtained by the Company's factors having bean purchased in Madras and Surat, whither it was brought by Chinese junks after the expulsion of the British from Java.
The instructions of 1700 directed the supercargoes to send home 300 tubs of the finer green teas and 80 tubs of bohea.
In 1840 there were grown, and offered at public auction in Calcutta early the following year, 35 packages, chiefly green teas, stated to have been manufactured by a chief of the Singpho tribe aided by the government establishment.
Thea Bohea and Thea viridis, and it was erroneously assumed that the former was the source of black teas, while Thea viridis was held to yield the green varieties.
Of the foregoing, the teas of commerce are derived almost entirely from the varieties Viridis and Bohea.
From the variety Bohea, or from hybrids of descent from it, came the China teas of former days and the earlier plantings in India grown from imported China stock.
The chemistry of the completed teas of commerce does not appear to have been subjected to adequate scientific study.
The amount of tannin found in green teas appears to be FIG.
It exists in greater percentage in Indian and Ceylon teas than in those from Java, and is lowest in China and Japan teas.
By 1907, however, the greatly increased production in India and Ceylon, with the willingness of many nations to drink such teas, in preference to those of China, had left to her Russia as a customer for nearly half her export of the article, a proportion rapidly diminishing, as that country too turned in the direction of using the stronger varieties.
Excluding therefore from any record the quantities produced for internal consumption in China and Japan (that from the former alone has been estimated at a total of 2,000,000,000 lb), the following are the acreage and production of the world as taken from the latest recorded statistics available in 1908: - 726, 601,000 The quantity from China includes about 16,000,000 lb imported from India, Ceylon and Java, and worked up with China teas into bricks and tablets.
The finest teas are produced at high elevations in Darjeeling and Ceylon and in the plains of Assam, but the quality from individual estates varies much from season to season, and even from week to week.
Many people still Cherish the antiquated belief that black and green teas are grown upon different varieties of the tea-plant, which is quite a mistake, the difference being merely one of preparation.
A production temporarily in excess of the world's demand of several years ago, led to the offering of bonuses for the production in India and Ceylon of green teas, with a view to lessening the black tea output.
One important factor in keeping down the amount per person is the substitution in use, which for a generation has been in progress, of the stronger teas of India and Ceylon for the old-fashioned weaker produce of China.
The prices below are the annual averages for all Indian teas sold in the London public auction market during the years stated.
- Diagram showing the alterations in the relative proportions of different growths of tea consumed during the 21 years ended the 31st of December 1907; the variations in the London average prices for Indian teas, and the changes in the English rate of duty.
Probably a more healthy one than that followed in many parts of the United Kingdom, where strong infusions of powerful teas are indulged in too frequently.
Exceedingly delicate teas can therefore be used unimpaired.
In the United States of America and Canada, in some portions of Europe and of Asia, and along the north of Africa, there is a free use made of green or unfermented teas with pale, pungent infusions.
Impure teas are not permitted to pass into consumption, but the quantity condemned after analysis as unfit for food in the year 1906 was 41 packages, out of a total of 317,000,000 lb.
In the days when China green teas were more used than now, the risks to a professional tea-taster were serious, because of the objectionable facing materials so often used.