The Legendary Origins of Tea

Learn the origins of tea

You can have it hot or cold, black or green, herbal or lemon; yes what we are talking about is tea. Tea is the most popular beverage worldwide. The discovery of tea happened in 2700bc by a Chinese emperor, also a scientist, Shen Nung. According to the Indian and Japanese legend, Shen Nung discovered tea when some leaves from the garden fell into his pot of boiling water resulting in a refreshing drink. Another interesting fact was that it was monkeys the first trained to pick tea leaves.

Europe’s Discovery of Tea – An aristocratic beverage

The first European to write about tea was father Jasper De Cruz, in the year 1560, who tasted the drink at a missionary. Tea slowly gained popularity among the French and the Dutch, but due to its high cost remained a drink for the wealthy. As time passed and the popularity of tea increased, several different processes of brewing, preparing and drinking tea also evolved. Marquise de Seven was the first to have mentioned the addition of milk to tea giving the drink a new dimension.

Tea was officially brought to Europe by the Dutch in the 1600s. By 1700bc tea was being sold in fashionable coffee houses. John Dorniman was the first to sell tea in net weighed packets. The Duchess of Bedford originated the custom of afternoon tea but the credit turning it into a pastime should be given to Queen Victoria.

Tea was originally grown in China and exported to Europe and other parts of the world. In the 1600s China emerged as the only trader of tea. Due to the steep rise in demand and also to keep a check on the balance of trade, the Europeans started to look for other places where tea could be grown. This search gave birth to the tea fields of India. Later Europe imported tea from India followed by Ceylon.

The history of tea also enhances our general knowledge.   When we move back in time, we learn that the practice of tipping was developed in the tea gardens of England where a small wooden locked box labeled tips (to ensure prompt service) was kept for its customers. Customers came and went by, years and centuries passed by, only to take to new heights the refreshing drink called Tea.

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