In the 1600's in England, tea was introduced after making its way through Europe via Holland and France. It was extremely expensive in those early days, thus becoming the afternoon ritual of aristocracy.
In America, the British were reminded that we Americans don't necessarily share their love of the tea leaf; put another tax on us and it's into the harbor it goes...maybe this is when the idea of Starbucks was born! I like coffee, but I love a cup of tea. Most nights I make tea, sometimes cinnamon apple, sometimes honey chamomile....but always steaming hot and sweet with honey or sugar. Admittedly, in the summer, hot tea doesn't soothe as well, and I have been known to resort to a brew of a different nature that also helps me sleep...but that's a whole different post ! (http://pats-dryrun.blogspot.com/2008/02/38-on-lighter-note.html.
I need no ceremony or rituals. I only need the mug, warm in my hands, to bring focus to the important things in my life. The steam carries the troubles from my mind as it rises and disperses them elsewhere. It is a moment to reflect; a moment to pray. It is a spiritual moment for me, without ceremony or history; but full of reflection and peace and harmony.