A Brief History of Tea
Tea is second only to water as the most popular beverage in the world. It has been enjoyed in China since 2000 years B.C. Tea occupies an integral part of Chinese culture and history. There is a saying that identifies tea as one of the seven items that are needed for daily life in china. Tea is so important in Chinese history, it has actually led to wars and the downfall of an emperor.
Like many great discoveries it was made on accident. Shen Nong in 2737 B.C. Emperor Shen Nong was a scholar and herbalist, as well as a creative scientist and patron of the arts. Among other things, the emperor believed that drinking boiled water contributed to good health. By his decree, his subjects and servants had to boil their water before drinking it as a hygiene precaution. On one summer day while he was visiting a distant region, he and his entourage stopped to rest. The servants began to boil water to drink. Dried leaves from a nearby Camellia bush fell into the boiling water. The emperor was interested in the new liquid because it had a pleasing aroma in this new brew interested the emperor, so he drank the infusion and discovered that it was very refreshing and had a delightful flavor. That was when Tea was invented, but it was considered as remedy. It was around 300 A.D. when, tea became a daily beverage.
During the Song and Tang Dynasties tea assumed its important cultural role in Chinese history. A scholar spent many years researching the ideal growing, harvesting, and processing practices for tea and went on to research the ideal brewing and tasting of tea. He wrote about his research in a book called: The Tea Classic this elevated tea’s status greatly.
No discussion on the history of tea would be complete without discussing tea’s introduction and importance to British culture. Tea was introduced to England in the mid to later 1600’s. Initially, tea was only enjoyed by the upper classes as it was very expensive, often costing the equivalent of a middle class person nearly a year of wages. As Tea became more important it became the largest item imported by Britain. Today, tea is affordable and very available.
Tea has led to the growth of nations and empires. It has led to the downfall of an emperor, it has contributed to the independence of a nation. The history of tea has shaped our nation’s and world’s history.