22 February 2015

Pin It

Facts History Birth Origin of Tea

Facts History Birth Origin of Tea

Tea is often thought of as being a quintessentially British drink,
But in fact the history of tea goes much further back.

Origin Birth of tea and China 

According to legend, in 2737 BC, the Chinese emperor Shen Nung was sitting beneath a tree while his servant boiled drinking water, when some leaves from the tree blew into the water. Shen Nung, a renowned herbalist, decided to try the infusion that his servant had accidentally created.
The tree was a Camellia sinensis, and the resulting drink was what we now call tea.

It is impossible to verify the above story

During the late Western Han dynasty (1st century B.C.), The Divine Farmer's Herb-Root Classic, a book attributed to Shennong, includes a reference about tea.

In 59 B.C., Wang Bao, of Sichuan Province, wrote the first known book providing instructions on buying and preparing tea - entitled A Contract with a Servant - establishing that tea was not only an important part of diet but that it was a commonly traded commodity at this time. This book is said to be the first written reference to tea utensils. At the time, tea drinking was still a luxury enjoyed by the elite classes of Chinese society.

Containers for tea have been found in tombs dating from the Han dynasty
(206 BC - 220 AD) but it was under the Tang dynasty (618-906 AD), that tea became firmly established as the national drink of China.
It became such a favorite that during the late eighth century a writer called Lu Yu wrote the first book entirely about tea, the Ch'a Ching, or Tea Classic.

History of Tea and Japan –

Tea was first introduced to Japan, by Japanese Buddhist monks who had travelled to China to study.

Tea drinking has become a vital part of Japanese culture, as seen in the development of the Tea Ceremony, which may be rooted in the rituals described in the Ch'a Ching.

During the Nara and Heian periods, many envoys were sent to Tang-dynasty China. On several occasions, these envoys were accompanied by Japan's leading Buddhist scholars, including Saicho, Kukai and Eichu. These Buddhist monks brought back with them tea seeds from Tang China, which are said to be the origin of tea in Japan.
In the early Heian Period, Emperor Saga is said to have encouraged the drinking and cultivation of tea in Japan. Tea drinking was first referred to in Japanese literature in 815 in the Nihon Koki (Later Chronicles of Japan), recording that Eichu invited Emperor Saga to Bonshakuji temple, where he was served tea. At this time, tea was extremely valuable and only drunk by imperial court nobles and Buddhist monks.
In 1191, in the early Kamakura Period (1185-1333), Eisai, founder of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, brought back a new type of tea seeds to Kyoto from Sung-dynasty China. In 1214, Eisai wrote the first book specifically about tea in Japan, Kissa Yojoki (How to Stay Healthy by Drinking Tea). According to the medieval chronicle Azumakagami, Eisai learned that the Shogun, Minamoto no Sanetomo, was afflicted by alcoholism, and sent his book as a gift to the Shogun.

History - Spread of Tea in Europe –

In the latter half of the sixteenth century there are the first brief mentions of tea as a drink among Europeans.

These are mostly from Portuguese who were living in the East as traders and missionaries. But although some of these individuals may have brought back samples of tea to their native country, it was not the Portuguese who were the first to ship back tea as a commercial import. This was done by the Dutch, who in the last years of the sixteenth century began to encroach on Portuguese trading routes in the East.
By the turn of the century they had established a trading post on the island of Java, and it was via Java that in 1606 the first consignment of tea was shipped from China to Holland.

Tea soon became a fashionable drink among the Dutch, and from there spread to other countries in continental Western Europe, but because of its high price it remained a drink for the wealthy.

History of Tea and England –

Tea Advertisement in England
The first dated reference to tea is from an advert in a London newspaper, Mercurius Politicus, from September 1658.
Catherine of Braganza - she made tea fashionable in Britain It announced that 'China Drink, called by the Chinese, Tcha, by other Nations Tay alias Tee' was on sale at a coffee house in Sweeting's Rents in the City.

The first coffee house had been established in London in 1652

It was the marriage of Charles II to Catherine of Braganza that would prove to be a turning point in the history of tea in Britain.
She was a Portuguese princess, and a tea lover and it was her love of the drink that established tea as a fashionable beverage first at court, and then among the wealthy classes as a whole.

The East India Company began to import tea into Britain, its first order being placed in 1664 - for 100lbs of China tea to be shipped from Java.

The first tax on tea in the leaf, introduced in 1689, was so high at 25p in the pound that it almost stopped sales. It was reduced to 5p in the pound in 1692,
Year 1964 – Tea duties were finally abolished

Effects of Taxation – To avoid tax Smuggling and adulteration in tea started

Year 1784 –
The new Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger, slashed the tax on tea from 119 per cent to 12.5 per cent. Suddenly legal tea was affordable, and smuggling stopped virtually overnight.

In the early 1800s, Anna the Duchess of Bedford, introduced the custom of the afternoon tea or tea party.

Another custom developed in England was enjoying tea and entertainment in a tea garden.

In London, pleasure gardens like Vauxhall or Ranelagh Gardens were open to the public for the purposes of recreation plus drinking tea and strolling among lawns and ponds.  Tea dances also took place at tea gardens.

At tea parties and afternoons at the tea garden, the most popular English teas served are English Breakfast Tea and Earl Grey Tea.
English breakfast tea is generally a medium or full bodied black tea.

Earl Grey teas are a classic blend of fine black tea with the essence of bergamot.  Most Earl Grey teas are also delicious with sugar and milk.

In 1851, when virtually all tea in Britain had come from China, annual consumption per head was less than 2lbs.

Year - 1901, cheaper imports from India and Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon), another British colony, this had rocketed to over 6lbs per head.
Tea had become firmly established as part of the British way of life.

The government took control again during the Second World War, and tea was rationed from 1940 until 1952.

Year 1952 also saw the re-establishment of the London Tea Auction, a regular auction that had been taking place since 1706.

The auction was at the center of the world's tea industry, but improved worldwide communications and the growth of auctions in tea producing nations meant that it gradually declined in importance during the latter half of the twentieth century.

The final London Tea Auction was held on 29 June 1998.

History of Tea and India –

Today, India is one of the largest tea producers in the world, although over 70 per cent of its tea is consumed within India itself. In this, India is also among the top 5 per-capita tea consumers.

Tea was first introduced into India by the British, in an attempt to break the Chinese monopoly on tea.
The British, "using Chinese seeds, plus Chinese planting and cultivating techniques, launched a tea industry in Assam.

Maniram Dewan (1806-1858) was the first Indian tea planter.

By 1839 there was sufficient cultivation of tea of 'marketable quality' for the first auction of Assam tea in Britain.

In 1837, the first English tea garden was established at Chabua in Upper Assam;
In 1840, the Assam Tea Company began the commercial production of tea in the region

The major tea-producing states in India are:
Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Sikkim, Nagaland, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Bihar, Orissa.

Tea gardens in Assam do not follow the Indian Standard Time (IST), which is the time observed throughout India and Sri Lanka.

The local time in Assam's tea gardens, known as 'Tea Garden Time' or Bagantime, is an hour ahead of the IST.

The system was introduced during British days keeping in mind the early sunrise in this part of the country.

By and large, the system has been successful in increasing the productivity of tea garden workers as they save on daylight by finishing the work during daytime. Working time for tea labourers in the gardens is generally between 9 a.m. (IST 8 a.m.) to 5 p.m. (IST 4p.m.)

It may vary slightly from garden to garden.

Noted film maker Jahnu Barua has been campaigning for a separate time zone for the north east region.

Tea History and America –

Tea was first brought to North America by the Dutch in the 17th Century.

The Dutch colony of New Amsterdam was acquired by the English who renamed the settlement New York and passed on many of the tea drinking customs that were common in England.

The cities of Boston and Philadelphia adopted the English style of tea drinking and their use of fancy silver and porcelain tea products symbolized their wealth and elite social status.

One tax in particular, the tea tax passed by an Act of British Parliament in 1767, caused even more dissent and rebellion among the American colonists.

American ports began refusing shipments of dutiable goods, including teas, causing ships to turn around with their cargo in some cases.

The Tea Act of 1773 which was intended to boost profits for the East India Company by bypassing local tea merchants and selling tea directly to the colonists was the last and final straw.

The Boston Tea Party –

The colonists firmly objected to accepting and consuming taxed tea.

Members of the political group the Sons of Liberty in Boston, led by Samuel Adams, plotted to raid an upcoming shipment of tea and prevent the tea from being unloaded.  

On December 16, 1773, the same night Sons of Liberty planned their raid, a group of protesters got the idea to dump the tea into Boston Harbor.

The protestors disguised as Mohawk Indians, along with the Sons of Liberty and a large crowd of Bostonians, boarded three British East India Company ships, the Eleanor, Dartmouth and Beaver.

Over three hours, they dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor. This event marked the beginning of the American Revolution.

In 1904 at America’s first World’s Fair, iced tea made its debut.
Richard Blechynden had the novel idea of serving his brewed tea on ice since no one was interested in drinking hot tea during the summer heat wave.

Also, Thomas Sullivan of New York is credited for inventing the tea bag.
This tea merchant packaged loose teas in hand-sewn silk muslin bags and shipped around the world.

In delivering the bags of tea to local restaurants, he saw that they were brewing the tea while still in the bags and began marketing tea bags as a new, convenient and less messy way of preparing tea.

Suggested Reading –

History Explained 20 Types of Milk How milk is produced Milk Nutrients

Reality views by sm –

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Tags – History Origin Tea India USA UK China Japan


Destination Infinity February 23, 2015  

I am intrigued on how the date for the first invention of tea (boiled water, leaf accidentally falling in it) was determined!! :)

Destination Infinity

Bikramjit Singh Mann February 23, 2015  

now that is some historical fact :)


Usha March 08, 2015  

This is very interesting read about origin of tea in different countries...Thanks for sharing this post.