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The history of bohea tea (pronounced /bo"hee/) is a sad one. Originally it was one of the highest and most sought-after grades of black China tea (Richard Estcourt wrote in The Fair Example (1706) ‘To dine at my Lord Mayor's, and after dinner be entertain'd with a dish of Bohea by my Lady Mayoress’), but by the nineteenth century the term was being used to designate the lowest-quality tea, made from the season's last crop of leaves (‘the unsophisticated cup of bohea’, Leigh Hunt, The Seer, 1841), and nowadays it has passed out of common usage. It comes from Bu-i, the name in the Fujian dialect for a range of hills in the north of the Fujian province of China (Wu-i in Cantonese) where such tea is grown.

Subjects: Cookery, Food, and Drink.

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