History of Tea

Drinking tea plays such a central part in our lives. It is such a universal phenomenon with millions of people the world over enjoying their tea on a daily basis, that it’s hard to imagine a world without tea and yet while the Eastern world has been using tea for more than 4500 years, for most of this time tea was unknown in the Western world.

Tea was only introduced into the West a relatively recent 400 years ago. Discovered in China, tea has exerted a profound influence on societies and cultures throughout the world. There are unique ceremonies in various cultures and most parts of the world have social etiquettes concerning the preparation and drinking of tea as well as social customs regarding how, when and where to drink it. Many myths, legends, poems and proverbs surround tea and maintain its mystique. Tea has always accompanied and even influenced the unfolding of key historical events as well as maintaining a presence whenever economic, technological or cultural developments take place. Today tea enjoys an unparalleled and enduring popularity. The story of tea is truly intertwined with the story of Mankind.

The Origin Of The Word "Tea"

The Chinese originally called it “Kia”. As far as is know it was during the course of the 6th century AD that the name evolved into "Cha". On its arrival in the West it became Té which is still the name for tea in many countries.

The Discovery Of Tea

Legend has it that tea was discovered by the Chinese Emperor, Shan Nong, in 2737 B.C.

The Emperor had a habit of boiling his drinking water. One day while he was in his garden a few tea leaves fell by chance into his boiling water which then gave off a rich, alluring aroma. The Emperor, upon drinking this brew, discovered it to be refreshing and energizing. He immediately gave the command that tea bushes to be planted in the gardens of his palace. Thus the custom of brewing fresh tea leaves in hot water began and it quickly spread. Since the discovery of tea and over the centuries the tradition of drinking tea brewed from fresh tea leaves in boiling water has been firmly entrenched in China

Until the fifth century A.D., tea was primarily used as a remedy, due to the medicinal benefits attributed to it. From this time onwards, China's upper class adopted the fashion of presenting packages of tea as highly esteemed gifts and of enjoying drinking tea at social events and in private homes. At around the same time the Chinese tea ceremony began to develop and the tidings of tea began to spread as it reached Japan.