Tea has been an important part of human culture for centuries. The story of how tea was first discovered in China and then spread to all major countries around the world is fascinating. From the comprehensive overview by ‘Earthstoriez’ we have taken a few highlights to share with you (dates approximate)…
4000 B.C. Possible cultivation of tea in the Tianluo Mountain, in east China.
350 C.E. Tea plants from the Yunnan Province are planted along the Yangtze river in the Scechwan Province. The cultivation of tea in China begins.
600 C.E. Chinese character c’ha, meaning tea, comes into use.
900 C.E. Japanese scholars return from a visit to China bearing tea.
1368 C.E.-1644 C.E. During the Ming Dynasty, the Chinese start drinking tea, by steeping the whole leaf tea in hot water.
1400 C.E. Tea drinking becomes prevalent among the masses in Japan.
1610 C.E. Dutch East India Company market tea. The Dutch procure tea and Chinese clay teapots from Portuguese traders in Macao, and establish a trading relationship with the Japanese. Tea comes to Europe, it is sold to rich people as an exotic medicinal drink.
1664 C.E. The English East India Company brings the gift of tea to the British king and queen. Not long after, tea drinking becomes very fashionable among the aristocracy of England.
1680 C.E. Tea drinking becomes a popular pastime in Europe, as a result of a craze for anything Oriental. The Marquise Marie de Rabutin-Chantal de Sévigné, is recorded to have added milk to her tea. An addition of milk to hot tea was made to prevent the delicate porcelain cup from cracking.
1717 C.E. Thomas Twinning converts his coffeehouse to the first teashop “The Golden Lyon”, which becomes the first place for women to meet and socialize in public.
1784 C.E. The grandson of Thomas Twinning persuades the Prime Minister William Pitt to drop the high taxes on tea, not only eliminating smuggling, but making tea an affordable luxury to Brits of all walks of life.
1840 C.E. Anna the 7th Duchess of Bedford invents “Afternoon Tea” to abolish the “sinking feeling” she experienced during the long gap between breakfast and dinner.
1900 C.E. The Trans-Siberian Railroad is completed, ending camel caravan trade between Russia and China. In Russia, tea has become the national beverage (besides Vodka).
In England, teashops become the popular place for the working class to take their afternoon tea.
1903 C.E. First patents on tea bags.
1904 C.E. The first “iced tea” was served at the St. Louis World’s Fair. A tea merchant had planned to give away samples of his tea to the fair-goers, and when unable to think of anything else to do when a heat wave threatened his plans, he dumped ice into his hot tea.
Today Over 5 million metric tons of tea is grown and produced in more than 40 countries worldwide.