Chinese Tea and Spiritual Wayfaring in the Early Writings of the Bab

By William McCants

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #58
Louhelen Bahá'í School: Davison, Michigan, USA
October 8–11, 2004
(see list of papers from #58)

    Iranians knew of Chinese tea as early as the eleventh century AD and had started drinking it by the thirteenth century, after the Mongol invasion. However, coffee, not tea, was the beverage of choice for most Iranians until the nineteenth century, when there was a sudden, large-scale conversion to tea drinking. It is still unclear why this shift occurred. In this paper I will argue that the Báb served as one of the catalysts for this change by encouraging his followers to drink Chinese tea as part of their spiritual practice.

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