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History Of Tea

The history of tea is believed to go back to 2737 BC. Shen Nung, the second emperor of China, a scholar, the father of agriculture and the inventor of Chinese herbal medicine, learned tea when tea leaves blew into his cup of boiled water.

Another Chinese legend that spread along with Buddhism credits the Indian monk and founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism Bodhidharma, who traveled to China in 520, with the discovery of tea. It is believed that he became mad that he was falling asleep during meditation and, hence, cut off his eyelids. At the spot where his eyelids fell, tea bushes sprung—but history has tea mentioned in Chinese writing in 222 AD and cited as Erh Ya in a Chinese dictionary in 350 AD.

The medicinal benefits of tea and its refreshing effect were being spread by the third century, and during the reign of the Tang Dynasty tea became China’s national drink. In 780 AD, Lu Yu, the Tea Saint, wrote Ch’a Ching, the first book on tea, in which he described the various methods of tea cultivation and preparation in ancient China.

Yensei, a Buddhist monk, introduced the tea in Japan from China. Tea took hold of Japan, in 1191, when the Zen priest Eisai and the Father of Tea of Japan, brought back from China powdered tea and tea seeds.

As the demand rose, Chinese farmers started to cultivate tea. During the Ming Dynasty, merchants roasted their leaves to prevent rotting of leaves. Leaves were left in air to oxidize produced black tea for export. The Chinese still drink the native green tea.

The Portuguese Jesuit missionary, Father Jasper de Cruz, in 1560, was the first European to personally encounter tea and write about it. Portugal opened up the sea routes to China as early as 1515. Tea had a high cost in The Hague, which made it the domain of the wealthy. Milk was first added to both tea and coffee by the Dutch. Tea was first served in Dutch inns. As the amount of imported tea increased, the price reduced and it was available in small stores.

Peter Stuyvesant brought tea first to the colonists of America in New Amsterdam, renamed New York by the English, in 1650. Around 1655 the Dutch introduced the word “tea,” then pronounced tay, and the beverage to England. The pronunciation tee was predominant after the late 18th century. It was first regarded more as a medicine than a fashionable drink. Then tea became a drink of the rich in small teacups. In 1662, the tea tradition was established in England by Charles II and his wife Portuguese Infanta Princess Catherine de Braganza. The territories of Tangier and Bombay brought as dowry by her were used as base of operation of The John Company founded by Elizabeth I. England’s huge demand caused a trade deficit with China. The British set up productive plantations using seeds smuggled from China in parts of colonial India.

In 1840, Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, devised the afternoon tea. In 1904, Richard Blechynden introduced iced tea to the St. Louis World’s Honest when the crowd did not gather at his hot tea booth. In 1980, the tea bag was learned when tea packed in small silk bags were dropped into hot water. Thomas J. Lipton designed a four-sided tea bag called the “flo-thru” tea.

Nearly 5,000 years ago Shen Nung first sipped tea; now there are more than 3,000 varieties and it is the most widely consumed beverage in the world.

I run a small tea shop. And I want to share my abundant knowledge about teas with everyone.
Here is the link to my web site. Note it is in Slovenian language.

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