The Origins of Tea

The story of tea began in ancient China over 5000 years ago. According to legend, Shen Nung, an early emperor was a skilled ruler, creative scientist and patron for the arts. His far-sighted edicts required, among other things, that all drinking water be boiled as a hygienic precaution. One summer day while visiting a distant region of his realm, he and the court stopped to rest. In accordance with his ruling, the servants began to boil water for the court to drink. Dried leaves from a nearby bush fell into the boiling water, and a brown liquid was infused into the water. As a scientist, the Emperor was interested in the new liquid, drank some, and found it very refreshing. And so, according to legend, tea was created.

The origin of iced tea.

Iced tea was first reported at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. Richard Blechynden had planned to sell hot tea at his stand, but became concerned that no one would want to drink hot tea on a sweltering day. He began offering the tea with ice cubes and the new drink was a sensation.

Afternoon Tea

In 1840, Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, began serving tea in the afternoon, creating a fashionable British custom. Contrary to popular opinion, a “low” tea teatime is the most fashionable. It is served during the “low”, or early, afternoon, and consists of tea and light food. A “high” tea, on the other hand is served later in the day and is a full meal, including meat. High tea is actually a working class supper.

History of the House

The construction of the Crystal Tea Room home began in 1900 and was completed in 1903 by architect James E Bruff. John M Leach purchased the parcel of land at the corner of Jefferson and Webster Where he had this house built for his new bride, Emma Dean as a wedding gift. John M. Leach served in the Union Army between 1863-1865 as a veterinarian. He returned to Kokomo in 1866 where he began his livery and brick business. He started the Ice House in 1874 and also established the gas company. He founded Old City Park (Highland Park) in 1909. He died of an unfortunate accident at his brick business in 1914. The house was willed to his step daughter Nettie Owens where she lived until her death in 1941. The house has had many owners since then, but the interior, aside from the kitchen and bathrooms, has remained unaltered and preserved as a excellent example of James Bruff’s work.