Home

 

Black and Green Tea Index

History of Tea

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