TCHUKTCHEES, a wandering tribe in Siberia, supposed to be kin to the Koriaks, living near Behrings strait. They closely resemble the Indians of the adjacent conti nent. The greater part of them wander from spot to spot with herds of reindeer, while. some bands live on the coast and support themselves by seal and walrus hunting. Their number is unknown, and estimates vary greatly. The name Tchuktchees is also given to an Alaska tribe of Koniagas, living on Bristol bay, and noted for their ingenious carving.
TEA, Thea, a genus of shrubs of the natural order ternstrcemiacem, very nearly to the• genus camellia (q.v.), and distinguished from it only by the not deciduous calyx, and by the dissepiments remaining connected in the center of the capsule after it opens. The genus seems to derive its importance entirely from a single species, the dried leaves of which are the tea of commerce, one of the most important articles of ' commerce in the world, and yielding the most esteemed and extensively used of all non-alcoholic beverages. This species, the tea shrub or CHINESE TEA (7'. sinensie), is 20 to 30 ft. high, but in a state of cultivation only.5 to 6 ft. high, with numerous branches and lanceolate leaves, which are 2 to 6 in. long. The flowers grow singly or two or three together in the axils of the leaves; they are rather large, white, and fragrant, with 5-parted calyx, 6 to 9 petals, and many stamens. By cultivation for many centuries, numerous varieties of this plant have been produced in China, some of which have been reckoned as distinct species, particu larly 7. viridis, formerly supposed to yield green tea, T. Bohea, formerly supposed to yield black tea, and T. stricta, Of these, the first-named has the longest, and the last has the• shortest leaVes. The Assam tea, which has been called T. Assamemsis, appears also to be a mere variety of the same species.
The cultivation of tea in China is chiefly confined to the regions between n. lat. 24° to 35° and e. long. 115° to 122°. Tea for domestic use is, however, cultivated both in more southern and more northern regions. The plant is to be accounted subtropical, but bears a tropical climate well, and can also accommodate itself to cold winters. In the neighborhood of London it often endures all the frost of winter without protection. In few of the countries into which it has been introduced, however, is the flavor of the dried leaf such as it is in China. The use of tea is said to have been introduced into. China itself from the Corea about the 4th c. of the Christian era, and to have extended to Japan about the 9th century. The Chinese cultivate it chiefly ou the southern stones of hills. A new plantation is made by the seed in holes at proper distances, two or three seeds being put into a hole to secure a plant. The first crop is obtained in the
third year, when the shrub is by no means full-grown. When about seven years old, it yields only a scanty crop of hard leaves, and is cut down, when new shoots rise from the root, and bear fine leaves in abundance. This is repeated from time to time, till the plant dies at about the age of thirty years.
History and Commerce.—All that can be affirmed regarding the early history of this. beverage is, that it appears to have been used for ages in China, where it is believed by the natives to be indigenous. It first became known to Europeans at the end of the 16th c., though it is only mentioned by the Portuguese writer Maffei in his Hatorie• Indica, who refers to it as a product both of China and Japan. The first reference to it by a native of Britain is in a letter dated June 27, 1615, written by a Mr. Wickham, which is in the records of the East India company; and it is curious to observe that both the Portuguese and English writers referred to use their own rendering of the native name, which is teka. Maffei calls it dila, and Mr. Wickham, chow. From this time, it became gradually known to the wealthy inhabitants of London, in the form of occasional presents of small quantities from India, obtained from China, or by small lots in the markets from time to time, but alway exorbitantly dear, fetching sometimes as much as £10 the lb., and never less than £5. A rather large consignment was, however, received_ in 1657; this fell into the bands of a thriving Loudon merchant, Mr. Thomas Garraway, who established a house for selling the prepared beverage; and that house, under the of " Garraway's coffee-house," is still a famous establishment in that city. From 1660 until 1689, a duty was levied on the :rink made with tea at the rate of 8d. per gallon; but from the latter date a duty of 5s. per lb., with an addition of 5 per cent ad ralarem, was levied. For many years, the duties, although occasionally changed, were always very high, and were levied by both the customs and the excise. The expiration in 1833 of the charter of the East India company, which had held a complete monopoly of the tea•trade, produced a change; the ad valorem duty was abolished, and differentiate duties of is. 6d., 2s. 2d., and 3s. per lb. were substituted; but they worked badly, and were abandoned in 1835 for one uniform rate of 2s. ld. per lb., to which, in 1840, was added an additional 5 per cent. From that time to the present, several changes, always reductions, have taken place, until now, when the duty is only 6d. per lb: The import for the year 1875 was nearly 200,000,000 lbs., value about £14,167,000; the import for 1876 was 185.698,190 lbs., value £12,812,832; for 1877, 187,515,284 lbs., value £12,480,740.