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History of Tea

History of Tea

Tea originates from China. It is believed that almost 5,000 years ago in 2737 BC, Shen Nung, the Chinese Emperor inadvertently mixed leaves from a Camelia Sinensis tree with boiling water to produce tea.

Over time, Chinese dynasties popularised tea. Around 1000 BC, Buddhist monks introduced tea to Japan where tea ceremonies have attained cultural significance.

The Dutch started importing tea early in the sixteenth century. However, tea was expensive and the preserve of the rich. Tea reached Britain by circa 1650 in the reign of Charles II and was initially sold at coffee houses.

Tea grew rapidly in popularity as supply increased and prices reduced, albeit governments taxed tea from the early days up to the 1960’s. Smuggling also played a part in the reduction of tea tax. In 1773, the American War of Independence was triggered as a result of a protest against tea duties known as the Boston Tea Party.

The East India Company controlled early imports of tea from China. In the eighteenth century, Tea Clippers such as the Cutty Sark expanded imports of tea from the Far East and India. Later, supply lines became more economical with the opening of the Suez Canal and the introduction of steam ships.

In Britain, tea was rationed from World War II until the early 1950’s.

In the 1970’s the widespread sale of tea bags caught on and saw the transformation of tea drinking habits in Britain. Today over 95% of tea drunk is made from tea bags. Over 160 million cups of tea are drunk everyday in Britain.


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