History of Tea

History of Tea



History of Tea

Tea is one of the world’s most popular beverages. It is believed to have originated from China around five thousand years ago. The emperor at the time had an interest in agriculture and herbs. His discovery of tea marked the start of tea consumption. People believed that it was good for their physical and spiritual health. The Buddhist monks used the tea as a way of enhancing their spirituality. One of the monks took the tea from China to Japan. The Japanese adopted the tea and made it part of their culture. They created a tea ceremony, which involved being knowledgeable in complex cultural practices (Alexander, 2004). The increased consumption of tea led to the development of different tea blends. This led to the commercialization of tea. It was no longer meant for spiritual purposes only.

The development of trade and the opining of trade routes were essential in the development of tea. Some historical accounts claim that Portuguese traders were the first to take the tea to Europe. Other accounts claim that the Arabs were responsible for introducing tea to Europe when they gave the Venetians some tea in the sixteenth century. At first, the exported tea was an expensive drink and was only meant for the nobles. This made it very popular among some elite people, especially in the Netherlands (Alexander, 2004). In the seventeenth century, the price for the tea fell and this meant that many people could afford it.

The falling prices led to massive consumption of tea, as more people wanted to taste the beverage that the elite had taken. Moreover, many people began to realize the health benefits of tea and this increased its popularity. In Europe, people developed tea establishments where they could meet and talk over cups of tea. This made it a socializing drink and it became more popular. There was a huge consumption of tea in Europe, especially in Great Britain. At the time, China was the sole supplier of tea. To correct this, the British introduced large tea plantations in their colonies, especially in India, East Africa, and Sri Lanka (Avins & Quick, 2009).

During the early development of tea, people would use it in brick form because it was easier to carry it that way when traveling. The tea bricks were valued and they would even be used as a form of currency. When the people wanted to make tea, they would break a piece of the brick and boil it. Loose-leaf tea was used in places where people did not need to travel with the tea over long distances. The Chinese and Japanese used the powdered teas, as they were easy to make. This involved breaking the leaves and grounding them into a powder form. The powder would then be whipped into hot water.

As people continued their consumption of tea, they became more interested in developing it further. Today there are many varieties of tea, which are used alongside the traditional varieties. For instance, powdered green teas are still used today. They are used on their own, or they are used as a flavoring for other drinks and foods. Recent developments of tea include the development of tea bags and iced teas. Both developments of tea originated from America in the early twentieth century. In addition, bubble teas have become more popular in some areas such as America and Southeast Asia. The bubble teas are a mix of tea, milk, sugar and crushed ice (Avins & Quick, 2009).

Many countries that produce tea have found it necessary to have their own blends of tea. This serves to distinguish the teas based on different regions. In addition, some companies make their own blends. Some of the teas are made for specific occasions. Manufacturers have found ways of flavoring and scenting teas using different products such as lemon and jasmine. This enhances the flavors of the tea. The development of instant teas marked another development. It made it easier for people to make tea.

Tea bags have continued to develop ever since they were invented (Willson and Clifford, 2012). The developments are meant to increase ease of use and portability of the tea. Another recent tea development is the production of decaffeinated teas. This follows increasing health concerns with some people choosing to remove or reduce caffeine from their diets. In addition, some manufacturers have found ways of producing teas that are friendly to the environment. They are choosing to grow organic teas. This means that the farmers are not using any pesticides or chemicals to grow the crops. The aim of doing this is to encourage the protection of the environment. Such teas are slightly more expensive than the specialized premium teas (Willson and Clifford, 2012).


Alexander, S. (2004). Tea: Still hot after five thousand years. Retrieved from http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/about/tea.jsp

Avins, L., & Quick, D. B. (2009). Steeped in history: The art of tea. Retrieved from http://international.ucla.edu/media/files/Fowler_Tea_Curriculum.pdf

Hall, M. C., Sharples, L., Mitchell, R., Macionis, N., & Cambourne, B. (2004). Food tourism around the world. New York, NY: Routledge

Willson, C. K., and Clifford, N. M. (2012). Tea: Cultivation to consumption. North Yorkshire: Springer Science & Business Media

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