Hagood Hardy “The Homecoming”

On this Day:

In 1839, the first tea from leaves of indigenous plants of Assam, India arrives in the United Kingdom [date approximate]. However, people had been having their cuppa for centuries long before…

Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by pouring hot or boiling water over cured or fresh leaves of Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub native to China and other East Asian countries. After water, it is the most widely consumed drink in the world. There are many different types of tea; some have a cooling, slightly bitter, and astringent flavour, while others have vastly different profiles that include sweet, nutty, floral, or grassy notes. Tea has a stimulating effect in humans primarily due to its caffeine content.

Tea plants are native to East Asia and probably originated in the borderlands of southwestern China and north Burma. An early credible record of tea drinking dates to the 3rd century AD, in a medical text written by Hua Tuo. It was popularised as a recreational drink during the Chinese Tang dynasty, and tea drinking spread to other East Asian countries. Portuguese priests and merchants introduced it to Europe during the 16th century. During the 17th century, drinking tea became fashionable among the English, who started to plant tea on a large scale in India.

The term herbal tea refers to drinks not made from Camellia sinensis. They are the infusions of fruit, leaves, or other plant parts, such as steeps of rosehip, chamomile, or rooibos. These may be called tisanes or herbal infusions to prevent confusion with “tea” made from the tea plant (per Wikipedia).

The credit for creating India’s vast tea empire goes to the British, who discovered tea in India and cultivated and consumed it in enormous quantities between the early 1800s and India’s independence from Great Britain in 1947.

Around 1774, Warren Hastings sent a selection of China seeds to George Bogle, the then British emissary in Bhutan, for planting. But nothing seems to have come of this experiment. In 1776, Sir Joseph Banks, the great English botanist, was asked to prepare a series of notes – and it was his recommendation that tea cultivation be undertaken in India.

In 1780. Robert Kyd experimented with tea cultivation in India with seeds from a consignment stated to have arrived from China. A few decades later. Robert Bruce discovered tea plants growing wild in the Upper Brahmaputra Valley. In May 1823. the first Indian tea from Assam was sent to England for public sale.

Ironically, the native plants flourished, while the Chinese seedlings struggled to survive in the intense Assam heat and it was eventually decided to make subsequent plantings with seedlings from the native tea bush. The first twelve chests of manufactured tea to be made from indigenous Assam leaf were shipped to London in 1838 and were sold at the London auctions. This paved the way for the formation of the ‘Bengal Tea Association’ in Calcutta and a first joint stock Tea Company, the ‘Assam Company’ in London. On witnessing its success, other companies were formed to take up the cultivation of tea. Some of the other pioneer companies include George Williamson and the Jorehaut Tea Company

Having established a successful industry in Assam’s Brahmaputra valley, the feasibility’ of growing tea in the entire range of foot hills of the Himalayas and other parts of India was explored. By 1863, 78 plantations were established in Kumaon, Dehra Dun, Garhwal, Kangra Valley and Kulu. After the transfer of the present Darjeeling district to the East India Company in 1835 and initial trials in the 1840s, commercial plantations were started in Darjeeling in the 1850s and by 1874,113 gardens covering 18,888 acres of tea were opened and production touched 3.9 million pounds. In order to surmount the problems the industry was facing labour and law and order issues, communication, the need to expand markets and the packaging of tea the Indian Tea Association was formed in 1881 and the United Planters Association of Southern India (UPASI) was formed in 1895. In 1853. India exported 183.4 tons of tea. By 1870, that figure had increased to 6,700 tons and by 1885, it was 35,274 tons. Today, India is one of the world’s largest producers of tea with 13,000 gardens and a workforce of more than 2 million people involved in its production (per https://www.indiatea.org/history_of_indian_tea).

First, a Story:

A boy and a girl agreed to meet over a cup of tea.

The girl asked the boy: “Do you think it is okay to Steep together on the first date?”

Second, a Song:

Hugh Hagood Hardy, CM (February 26, 1937 – January 1, 1997) was a Canadian composer, pianist, and vibraphonist. He played mainly jazz and easy listening music. He is best known for the 1975 single, “The Homecoming” from his album of the same name, and for his soundtrack to the Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea films.

Hardy was born in Angola, Indiana. His mother was an American citizen. Hardy came to Canada as an infant settling in Brantford and grew up in Oakville, Ontario. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Trinity College, Toronto, and studied music privately in Toronto with Gordon Delamont. As a young man he participated in bebop jam sessions on Gerrard Street in Toronto. In the 1960s he played vibraphone in the bands of Martin Denny, Gigi Gryce, Herbie Mann, and George Shearing.

Hardy performed with Herbie Mann on the latter’s 1961 recording Herbie Mann at the Village Gate. The session includes the jazz standard “Comin’ Home Baby” & the Gershwin classic, “Summertime”. This version of “Summertime” was later “covered” by the 90’s rock group Sublime in their hit song “Doin’ Time.”

Hardy released a number of singles in the early 1970s. His single “Just a Little Lovin'” appeared on the RPM Adult Contemporary chart in 1971, and “The Garden Path” was on the chart in 1972. Hardy’s tune “The Homecoming” was used 1972 as music to a TV commercial for Salada tea. It was later included on an album of the same name.

Hardy set up an independent record label, Isis, through his Toronto company, Hagood Hardy Productions, and released “The Homecoming” as a single in 1975. It climbed the charts, rising to 14 in Canada, and in the US number 41 on the pop and number 6 on the easy listening charts, and was certified Gold in Canada, where it reached number one on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart.

Hardy won Juno Awards in 1976 and 1977 as instrumentalist of the year, and in 1976 as composer of the year. He was named instrumental artist of the year by Billboard magazine.

Hardy wrote the score for the 1985 film Anne of Green Gables and the sequel, Anne of Avonlea.

In 1992, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

In the 1995 provincial election he was the candidate for the Ontario Liberal Party in the riding of York South and faced local MPP and Premier of Ontario Bob Rae. The Ontario Liberals faltered in the election, and Hardy lost to Rae (per Wikipedia).

Here is Hagood Hardy in his performance of “The Homecoming” that was used in the Salada Tea commercial. I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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