It’s one of the world’s best-loved drinks, a staple of millions of kitchens around the globe, and billions of cups of it are enjoyed every day. But did you know that tea has been giving people a refreshing lift for thousands of years? Let us take you on a little journey through the history of the world’s favorite beverage.
The origin of tea is shrouded in myths and stories. From Chinese Emperors to Portuguese princesses, the history of tea is as rich as its taste. The earliest references to drinking tea originate from China where legend has it that a leaf fell into water being boiled for Emperor Shen Nung and he found the taste refreshing. Little did he know, he’d just invented the first cup of tea.
THE JAPANESE FALL IN LOVE
Later on during the Tang Dynasty, Japanese Buddhist scholars visiting China brought tea seeds back to Japan. The Japanese fell in love with the drink and instantly welcomed it into their culture, eventually creating the now-famous Japanese tea ceremonies.
TEA ARRIVES IN EUROPE
Over in Europe, it was the Portuguese who first discovered the pleasures of tea – after missionaries and merchants who lived in Asia brought tea back home as a gift. Yet it was the Dutch who saw the commercial potential of this remarkable leaf. Even then, it would remain incredibly expensive and, for a good many years, only the highest members of society could afford such a delicacy.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
Funnily enough, the British, famed for their tea consumption, didn’t take to drinking tea straight away. It wasn’t until Charles II married the Portuguese princess (and known tea lover) Catherine of Braganza, that tastes changed. Wanting to keep up with the new queen, the Brits soon took to drinking tea and never looked back.