Well, as you know its officially tea month here on Tea With Me and Friends and what better place to start then at the beginning!
I knew that tea had come originally from China....but that was the extent of my tea history so last week I did a little research that I thought I would share with you. So put on the kettle, make a cuppa and sit back while I explain where it all began!
|Time for a cuppa?|
We all know that tea is incredibly popular in Britain, in fact its been drunk here for over 350 years...but we need to look much further back in history to discover when it actually first began. Legend has it that in 2737 BC the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was sitting under a Camellia Sinensis tree while his servant boiled water to drink. Now you might not know (I didn't!), but this tree's leaves and leaf buds are used today to produce tea. Now some of the leaves from the tree blew into the water that was being boiled, and this intrigued Shen Nung, who was a known herbalist. Shen decided to try the accidental infusion - the rest is his-tea-ry!
Who knows if this is actually true, but I think its a lovely beginning to have! I'm glad Shen decided to sit under that Camellia Sinensis tree! We know that containers for tea were found in the tombs from the Han dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) and it was during the Tang dynasty of 618 - 906 AD that tea drinking really became popular in China.
|Time for a second cuppa?|
But how did this popularity spread across the world? Tea was introduced from China into Japan by the Japanese Buddhist monks who studied in China. The Portuguese traders and missionaries probably first mentioned tea in Europe, as they would bring samples of tea back with them from their travels. However, it was the Dutch who first commercially imported tea into Europe at the end of the 16th century.
The popularity of tea soon spread across Europe, but it was very expensive and therefore remained the preserve of the wealthy.
So, how did tea make it into Britain? At the time the British were quite suspicious of the continent and therefore the popularity of tea did not spread quite so quickly in Britain. It was the marriage of Charles II to Catherine of Braganza that really cemented tea drinking into British society. Catherine was Portuguese....and rather partial to a cup of tea! Her tea drinking habits made the beverage very fashionable in Britain and the East India Company finally began to import tea from about 1664.
I don't know about you, but I love the story of Shen Nung! I hope you have enjoyed our little trip into the history of tea, join us throughout March for more tea articles!
Thank you for popping by today,