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According to historical notes, tea is nearly 5,000 years old and was discovered. As legend has it, in 2737 B.C. by a Chinese emperor, Sheng Nong.

The Legendary Origin of Tea.

The story of tea began in ancient China over 5,000 years ago. According to legend, the Sheng Nong, an early emperor was a skilled ruler, creative scientist and patron of the arts. His far-sighted edicts required, among other things. That all drinking water be boiled as a hygienic precaution. One summer day while visiting a distant region of his realm, he and the court stopped to rest.

In accordance with his ruling, the servants began to boil water for the court to drink. Dried leaves from the near by bush fell into the boiling water. And a brown liquid was infused into the water. As a scientist, the Emperor was interested in the new liquid, drank some, and found it very refreshing.

And so, according to legend, tea was created. This myth maintains such a practical narrative. That many mythologists believe it may relate closely to the actual events, now lost in ancient history.

tea history 2

The Chinese Influence

Tea consumption spread throughout the Chinese culture reaching into every aspect of the society. China is the motherland of tea. In 780 A.D. Lu Yu wrote the first definitive book on tea, Cha Jing, the first book to systematically define tea as an independent concept. The word of tea also has its own history before it reached the form same as today.

In ancient China, tea started as a traditional medicine. It has the similar function as today’s coffee; it can ease thirst and help clean your inner body. In Tang Dynasty, tea transplanting became very popular in southern China, and was considered an important food product to be consumed by the Emperor and his family.

Buddhist monastery culture

It was also integrated as a part of Buddhist monastery culture since Buddhist monks could not drink alcohol. Many famous tea types came out of the monasteries. Chinese ancient philosophies also entered into the concept of tea and made tea a part of Chinese philosophy. In China, tea means clean, thrifty, peace, silence, compatibility, balance, respect, and no desire. You can find the ghosts of Chinese philosophies in a pot of tea.

This is another reason why tea in China could not form a religion. The Chinese ancient philosophies had already been too strong to leave an independent seat for tea.

After mid-Tang Dynasty, tea had become a part of economy and the tea industry had been well developed. And progressed until Qing Dynasty when China was attacked by the western powers.


tea history

Tea in Korea

In 7th century, after Korea peninsula was reunited, tea and tea custom were populated into this country, and in 828 A.D. Tea seeds were planted into the Korean soil. In which tea custom and tea arts have been preserved and developed since then in Korea.

green tea history

Tea in Japan

Around 1191, the first tea seeds were brought to Japan by the returning Buddhist priest Yeisei, who had spent years in Chinese monastery. Who learned and saw the value of tea in China in enhancing religious mediation. As a result, he is known as the “Father of Tea” in Japan. Because of this early association, tea in Japan has always been associated with Zen Buddhism.

Tea received almost instant imperial sponsorship and spread rapidly from the royal court and monasteries to the other sections of Japanese society. Before 1500’s, Cha Dao, as a tea religion was formed and its concepts and formation of peace, respect, clearness. Silence immediately accepted by Japanese, and became a unique branch of tea culture.

Tea in India, the rest of Asia, Europe and America

While both green tea and red tea have been populated in China, only Chinese southern red tea was able to cross the mountains to enter the India region. Between 1600’s to 1800’s tea had been introduced to the rest of Asian countries by Chinese immigrants. In the 1600s tea became popular throughout Europe and the American colonies.

While most of the European countries enjoy red tea, German likes green tea more. German considered green tea contains much nutrition. And it has started many scientific researches on green tea products as well as Chinese tea culture and philosophy. One German diplomat had mentioned, “Chinese tea has its philosophy in it.”

In America, since colonial days, tea has played a role in its culture and customs. Today, Americans learn about the famous Boston Tea Party protesting the British tea tax. One of the acts leading to the Revolutionary War. During this century, two major American contributions to the tea industry occurred. In 1904, iced tea was created at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, and in 1908, Thomas Sullivan of New York developed the concept of tea in a bag.

Tea in Modern Day

Nowadays, tea is one of the three most popular natural drinks(the other two are coffee, and coco). While the most parts of the world still see green tea as a stranger, green tea has gained more and more attention from the rest of the world outside of China.

Green tea skips the oxidizing step. It has a more delicate taste and is light green/golden in color. Green tea, a staple in the Orient, is gaining popularity in the U.S. due in part to recent scientific studies linking green tea drinking with reduced cancer risk.

Oolong tea, popular in China, is partly oxidized and is a cross between black and green tea in color and taste. While flavored teas evolve from these three basic teas, herbal teas contain no true tea leaves. Herbal and “medicinal” teas are created from the flowers, berries, peels, seeds, leaves and roots of many different plants.

Cup of green tea

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