vrijdag 23 januari 2009

Tea and the Guillotine - part 2


French doctors got excited about tea because they saw it as a possible medicine.
As early as 1648, a Monsieur Morisset published a treatise claiming that tea was mentally stimulating. (However, when he brought it before the faculty of medicine at the University of Paris some ardent defenders of another medicinal plant, sage, had the treatise burned!)
In 1657, the scientist Jonquet praised tea as the "divine herb."
In 1685, Philippe Sylvestre Dufour published the Traités Nouveaux et Curieux du Café, du Thé et du Chocolat (New and Curious Treatises on Coffee, Tea and Chocolate), one of the first books in French to address tea. It extolled the leaf for its ability to cure headaches and aid digestion, and it even offered prescriptions.

On August 3, 1700, the French ship Amphitrite returned from China with silk, porcelain and, of course, tea. In the years that followed, the number of these ships was to increase tenfold.

Tea had many fervent supporters in Paris and in Versailles, where the Sun King held court. As well as Mazarin, the royal minister Chancellor Séguier, the playwright Racine, and the writer Madame de Genlis all drank tea. In 1714, the princess of Palatine remarked that Chinese tea was as fashionable in Paris as chocolate was in Spain.

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