Origin And History Of Tea

Orgin and History of TeaTea plants are native to East and South Asia and probably originated around the point of confluence of the lands of northeast India, north Burma, southwest China, and Tibet. Although tales exist in regard to the beginnings of tea being used as a beverage, no one is sure of its exact origins. The usage of tea as a beverage was first recorded in China, with the earliest records of tea consumption with records dating back to the 10th century BC. During the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD), tea plants were quite limited and only royalty and the rich drank tea not only for their health but also for the taste. By the time of the Western Zhou Dynasty, tea was used as a religious offering also.

As more tea plants were discovered during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), tea drinking became more common among lower classes. It became widely popular during Tang Dynasty, when it was spread to Korea and Japan by Japanese priests studying in China. Priests drank tea to stay awake and meditate and soon, they developed the Japanese Tea Ceremony for sharing tea in a sacred, spiritual manner. The Japanese enjoyed tea very much and imported tea seeds from China to be planted in Japan, making tea available to more people.

Trade of tea by the Chinese to Western nations in the 19th century spread tea and the tea plant to numerous locations around the world. Tea was imported to Europe during the Portuguese expansion of the 16th century, at which time it was termed chá. In 1750, tea experts traveled from China to the Azores Islands, and planted tea, along with jasmines and mallows, to give the tea aroma and distinction. Both green tea and black tea continue to grow in the islands that have become the main supplier of tea to continental Portugal.

Tea was taken to Great Britain around 1660 when King Charles II married a Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza. The Queen made tea the drink of royalty and soon tea became a popular import to Britain via the East India Company. In attempts to make big profits, the East India Company began exporting the tea to American colonies at high taxes. Even though afternoon tea or tea parties had become a common way for aristocratic society to drink tea, it was not until the 19th century that tea became an everyday beverage for all levels of the society. Since then, tea remains the second highest consumed beverage around the world, and is surpassed only by water.