The history of tea can be traced back to
2737 BC. Emperor Shen Nung, who was known as the "Divine Healer", always boiled
his water before drinking it, believing that those who drank boiled water were
healthier. One afternoon, as he was boiling his water, some leaves from a nearby
tree blew into the water. The Emperor noted a delightful aroma and, upon sipping
the beverage declared that it provided "vigor of body, contentment of mind and
determination of purpose."
Shortly after Emperor Shen Nung's discovery, tea's popularity spread to Japan
and the rest of the Far East. The Dutch first brought tea from China to Europe
and America by 1650. In 1669, the East India Company began bringing tea leaves
to England, and in 1721, the company was granted a monopoly on all tea imported
into the British Empire. After the British took up tea drinking, they began
cultivating the plants native to India in order to have more control over the
trade. Initially, tea was very expensive and available only for royalty and the
upper class. At that time, tea prices were $30 to $50 per pound (One pound makes
about two hundred tea bags.) During the 1800's, tea clippers raced from China to
London and other ports. The first clipper to arrive with its cargo fetched the
highest prices. With the development of new method of speedy transportation,
the supply of tea became more plentiful and thus less expensive.
Tea played a dramatic role in the
establishment of the United States of America. In 1767, the British Government
put a tax on the tea used by American colonists. Protesting "taxation without
representation", the colonists did not allow tea to be unloaded. In December
1773, colonists, dressed as American Indians, boarded ships from the East India
Company and threw three hundred chests of tea into Boston harbor. The Boston Tea
Party, of course, led to American independence.
America was also the birthplace of iced
tea. At the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis in the summer of 1904,
the weather was very hot. A young Englishman named Richard Blechynden was
serving hot tea for days with no takers. In desperation, he tried pouring tea
into glasses with pieces of ice. The beverage was a hit and iced tea was born.
Since from the first cup of green tea
almost five thousand years ago, the popularity of tea has grown to the point
that it is now the second most consumed beverage in the world after water. The
medical as well as the refreshing merits of tea have not been fully appreciated
in the western world, but awareness of these benefits are increasing day by day.
Tea has been an item of trade and tribute for at least three thousand years. It
was first cultivated and brewed in China, and many of the best varieties still
come from China. Japan also produces a considerable amount of green tea, most of
which is consumed domestically. India, Sri Lanka, and other South Asian
countries produce a large portion of the world harvest. Tea is also grown
commercially in Russia, Africa (notably Kenya), and South America.
Source - Kanchanjangha Tea Estate