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Beef Tea


The clear liquid from beef which has been boiled until fallen, strained and skimmed of all fat.

Beef tea has long been assumed to somehow incorporate all the 'goodness' from the meat, and so be an ideal food for invalids, though even Mrs.B was rather doubtful.

Original Receipt in Hammond 1819;

Beef tea.
Take a pound of beef perfectly lean, chop it into small pieces, and boil it in one gallon of water with a slice of under-crust of white bread, and a small portion of salt; let it boil till reduced to two quarts, then strain it, and make use of it as necessary.

Original Receipt from 'Pot-luck; or, The British home cookery book' by May Byron (Byron 1914)

1076. BEEF TEA (Lancashire) One pound of gravy beef, one pint of cold water, half a teaspoonful of salt. Shred meat finely, place in an earthenware jar, add the water and salt. Cover closely. Place jar in a saucepan of boiling water, or in the oven, and cook for three hours. Stir occasionally.

'Bovril' is a condensed beef tea in paste form, invented in 1886 by Scotsman John Lawson Johnston at the request of Napoleon III as a sustaining drink for his troops. Johnston took the name from 'Bovine', as in cattle, and the magical fluid 'Vril' which gave all those subterranean super-humans their astonishing powers in Bulwer-Lytton's 1870 novel 'The Coming Race'. Somewhat shockingly, during the bovine spongiform encephalopathy scare of 2004-6, Bovril was manufactured without beef, using a Marmite-like yeast extract. Hardly anybody noticed.

Yorkshire Evening Post - Saturday 06 January 1900

... preferable to dried vipers.
Dublin Courier - Friday 04 January 1760

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