The History of Tea – The Great Infusion from Ancient to Modern Era

the history of tea

Tea, one of the most consumed beverages in the world after water and coffee. But do you know what is the origin of tea? Keep reading and discover it's story.

There are several legends about the discovery of tea, the most common is that Emperor Shen Nung of China came across the Camellia sinensis plant in 2737 BC, some leaves stirred by the wind fell into a pot of boiling water while his troops took shelter. under the tree, giving the first taste of tea.

Others claim that tea originated between 1500 BC and 1046 BC in China and was discovered by the Shang dynasty as a medicinal drink.

shang dynasty

Tea Discovered by the Shang dynasty
Photo Credited To: BORN TEA

Tea has played an important role in Asian culture for centuries and has become a staple drink. It is not only a healing symbol, but a status symbol, and it is not surprising that its popularity has spread throughout the world.

Discovered sometime between the 30th century BC and the 21st century BC, tea was initially used as a medicine in ancient China, where people chewed fresh leaves for their refreshing and invigorating effect before learning how to brew it in water.

In 722 BC-221 BC, the Chinese began to make the leaves, adding other ingredients such as ginger, tangerine peel, chives and dogwood to the mix. Tea became a part of their food, this concoction was mixed with rice and eaten as a meal, rather than enjoyed as a drink.

Between 202 BC and 220 ADS, tea evolved as a beverage in China, offered as a refreshing drink to officials and noblemen. Varieties of tea had been discovered, and varieties were brought to emperors as gifts because it was a coveted trade item. Also, during this period, the tea trade becomes a commercial activity.

Between 420 and 589 BC, tea consumption became popular as a Chinese tradition. Its consumption increased rapidly and methods of growing tea began to be explored to meet the demand.

In the years between 618 and 907 BC, the Tang dynasty planted various tea trees throughout the country, and Japanese monks traveled back to their own countries with some of the seeds. From here, tea left Chinese soil for the first time and was introduced to Japan.

tang dynasty

Tea Spread in Tang Dynasty 
Photo Credited To: TEA WITH TAE

The years 1271-1368 C.C saw a remarkable development in the methods of making tea. Machine brewed tea was tried. Tea Cakes and Tuocha were still popular as tributes to royal and noble lords in exchange for favors as they were still indulgent items that were of the highest quality.

During the Ming dynasty, the concept of roasting tea leaves emerged.

By the time the Qing dynasty ruled China in the years 1636-1911, tea had become a staple drink food. When Chinese authority became start export the tea and gradually tea became popular as an export commodity, it brought foreign trade to Chinese shores and became a popular drink.

qing dynasty

   By the time of Qing dynasty, Tea exported to other  

   Photo Credited To: Umi Tea Sets

By the end of the 3rd century AD, tea had become the number one drink in China.

In the 8th century AD, the Chinese were already trading tea with Tibet, the Arabs, the Turks, the nomadic tribes of the Indian Himalayas and also along the "silk road" to India.

The Dutch were the first to drink tea in Europe in 1610, it entered Britain around 1650, arriving a few years after coffee arrived in England. It was through the cafes that the new drink spread.

the dutch were the first to drink tea in europe

The arrival of tea in Europe through the Dutch

Photo Credited To: mint lounge

During world travels, tea underwent another change. The delicate tea leaves suffered great damage due to the long journeys from China to Europe, the tea producers had to find other means to make the leaves retain their freshness. They dedicated themselves to researching more sophisticated means of manufacturing, packaging and transportation in order to be able to carry the exports in good condition. Until now what was exported was green tea, this led to the birth of black tea.

As we talked about in the post: What are the main types of tea? all teas come from the same plant, the various teas are possible due to the methods used to grow and process leaves.

When Europeans discovered that green tea was not reaching them in the expected condition, they decided to naturally oxidize the leaves before drying them to help retain freshness. This gave the brew a darker color and became known as black tea.

Ever since tea was discovered, it has been used for many purposes, from relieving tiredness, fighting disease, to increasing energy.

What makes the history of tea so fascinating is the way it has penetrated cultures and continents and taken on new attributes and flavors, but always with the same essence.

Discover: You Must Know About White Tea Benefits

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