In general, people have an idea that tea is something which is an integral part of the English culture. But if you go deep into the historical facts, you will discover that the origin of this wonderful drink is not Occidental, but very much Oriental. The West has learned the goodness of tea and acquired the habit of drinking tea from its subjects. The West spread its colonies in the East and ruled there for several years; during this time the Western rulers have admired and adapted the good things of the lands they ruled. Tea is one of those good things.
The British got their habit of tea from China. It is found in historical documents that a coffee house in London announced that it started serving a new beverage from China, which is called ‘Tcha’, later known as tea. The document dates back to 1658. Charles II tied the knot with a Portuguese princess named Catherine of Braganza. The princess was a tea connoisseur and she introduced tea to the royal culture. Thus Britain started getting a regular supply of tea from China since 1964.
Now you must be curious to know: since when did the people of China start drinking tea? The story dates back to 2737 BC, when there lived an Emperor named Shen Nung. During travels the Emperor liked his drinking water to get boiled. His servant did the same, when some leaves accidentally fell into the water.
Now, the Emperor, who was a great enthusiast for experiments with herbs, did not hesitate to drink the strange mixture. He was very curious to know how it tasted and what could be its effects. So, he tasted the drink and found that it not only tasted great, but it was also refreshing!
So, that was the historical discovery of tea, if this story is to be believed. Whatever it is, there are multiple documents of history which prove that tea was a much admired drink in the royal court. In the Eighth century, an entire book was written on tea. The Book was named Ch’a Ching (Tea Classic) and Lu Yu was the writer.
Japanese Buddhist monks who came to China for spiritual elevation, carried the legacy of tea with them as they found it as a soul-refreshing element. Thus tea was introduced to the Japanese culture and made new developments with time.
The Portuguese merchants and missionaries who kept traveling to the East and living there, brought tea with them to Europe. Tea was commercially imported to Europe by the Dutch traders, who outsmarted their Portuguese counterparts in trading with the East.
Up to 1834, China was the only source for tea export. After 1834, the East India Company considered growing tea in India which was a fertile colony of the British. Tea plantation started in Assam and tea was exported to Britain. Tea cultivation in Darjeeling started around the 1850s. After the British Government started reigning India in 1858, tea cultivation was even more encouraged and it expanded beyond Assam and Darjeeling; Kumayun, Gahrwal, Dehra Dun, Kangra in North India and Nilgiri in South became the new centers for tea plantation. The ancient Ceylon, now called Sri Lanka was another British colony which was a part of tea cultivation.
So, the amazing drink you sip every morning or after a long toiling day to refresh your mind and soul, has a big history of development. So many things have happened over tea since its discovery. Tea is not just a drink, but since the ancient time it has molded the history of mankind!