Joseph Severn's portrait of Percy Bysshe Shelley. The radical 19th century poet practiced the politics of the plate. For Shelley and other liberals of his day, keeping sugar out of tea was a political statement against slavery.
Yaupon growing in the wild in east Texas. This evergreen holly was once valuable to Native American tribes in the Southeastern U.S., which made a brew from its caffeinated leaves.
Murray Carpenter for NPR
Christopher Day, the dining room manager at Eleven Madison Park, is also the man behind its tea program. "My goal has always been to put together a tea list with the same standard and rigor as you would with wine," he says.
Kathy YL Chan for NPR
A quartet of tea-infused treats. Clockwise from left: Pastry chef's Naomi Gallego's old-fashioned doughnuts, flavored with Earl Grey; chocolate custard infused with jasmine tea, topped with a whipped cream ganache with a bit of lemon; berry scones with a hint of black berry tea; and blue French-style macarons made with lapsang souchong.
Myanmar democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi (right) receives a bowl of green tea from Japanese tea master Genshitsu Sen at a tea ceremony in Kyoto during a 2013 visit to Japan.
In the Blue Zone of Okinawa, Japan, locals drink green tea with jasmine flowers and turmeric called shan-pien, which translates to "tea with a bit of scent."
David McLain/Courtesy of Blue Zones
A Hindu servant serves tea to a European colonial woman in the early 20th century. The British habit of adding tea to sugar wasn't merely a matter of taste: It also helped steer the course of history.
Underwood & Underwood/Corbis
An illustration from a book published in 1851 depicts the cultivation of tea in China. In the mid-19th century, China controlled the world's tea production. That soon changed, thanks to a botanist with a penchant for espionage.