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The History of Tea

May 26, 2021

The History of Tea

Tea originated in China during the Shang Dynasty. The first cup of tea was first brewed for the Chinese emperor Shen Nung when his servant boiled some leaves from the Camellia sinensis tree and it turned out to be a drink known as tea. 

Tea was once consumed for only medicinal purposes as it contains healing herbs unlike today when you can gift tea hampers to your loved ones. It then became popular in Britain, not until the 17th century. The British then popularised tea in India to compete with the Chinese who had a monopoly in tea production and trade. 

How Did Tea Become Popular In China?

The mausoleum of the Chinese emperor, Jing of Han was used to confirm that the origins of tea consumption lie in China. Tea used to be consumed at the time of the emperor in Xian during the Han dynasty. Samples of tea leaves were taken which underwent mass spectrometry to show that the leaves belong to the tree of the genus, Camellia. 

The Chinese writer, Lu Yu, wrote a book on tea which was titled ‘the classic of tea’ and elaborates how plants were grown and how they were processed afterward to finally brew it into a liquid. 

How Did Tea Spread Through Europe?

Tea was, once, very important for the East India Company as it gained huge profits from its trade. Tea was not famous in Europe until the 16th century. It was particularly important among the Portuguese traders and missionaries who were settled in Europe. 

However, the Portuguese were not the ones who introduced tea in Europe. Instead, the Dutch introduced tea in Europe by shipping it back during the end of the sixteenth century. However, the consumption of tea during that time was only limited to the elite class because of its high price. 

The Popularisation of Tea In India

Loose Tea Leaves

When East India Company lost its monopoly in the tea trade with China, it turned to India. The East India Company wanted to grow its tea in the Indian lands. Thus, the Company began to cultivate tea in Assam. 

It became a huge success as the imports from India exceeded those from China. When the British government took over India and sent the East India Company back to Britain, tea cultivation grew even more and the government gained huge profits from its trade. 

Tea in today’s world

Unlike the old times, various varieties of tea exist today. Tea varieties are used as gifts where different kinds of teas are packed together in tea hampers and handed out as packages. Also, restaurants and cafes serve different types of brewed teas such as green tea, black tea, yellow tea etcetera. 

Tea isn’t limited to medicinal use anymore. It is consumed on celebrations, as a stimulant, for weight loss, and for many other purposes. Different varieties of teas have different uses. Today, tea is one of the most consumed drinks in the world. Originating from China, it spread through Europe over the years. 

Today, it is drunk in almost every part of the world for different purposes and in different manners and its consumption is one of the highest among all the other drinks of the world. 

Whether you’re a fan of that classic early grey, green tea, Japanese tea or something more herbal or fruity - a number of online retailers are now offering all of these in tea gift sets and hampers. There really is something for everyone. A number of these hampers include your essentials such as loose tea or tea bags. Beyond that you may find some snacks, tea cups, mugs specially designed tea pots - all sorts!

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