Hello Friends … Tea is a significant part of our everyday lives … one that actually marks the start of our day. For some, the evening tea is a source of relaxation after a full day of work. For some others, it’s the best drink there ever is. The fondness of Pakistanis for tea can be understood by the fact that … according to the reports published by Government of Pakistan for the first quarter of fiscal year 2021, Pakistanis drank tea worth Rs 24 Billion 800 million in those 3 months. But how was this amazing beverage discovered ..?
History of Tea and Other Facts, History of Tea and Other Facts,History of Tea and Other Facts, History of Tea and Other Facts, History of Tea and Other Facts, History of Tea and Other Facts, History of Tea and Other Facts, History of Tea and Other Facts
In this artical, we will discuss the history of tea. How was it discovered? How did it reach Europe? When and how did the cultivation of tea in India start? The Story of the Chinese Emperor Shennong The Chinese Emperor Shennong is credited with the discovery of tea. According to Chinese, he was an herbalist and founder of agriculture. He discovered tea for the first time in 2737 BC. There are two versions of this story. According to a legend, Emperor Shennong ate a poisonous herb during a pilgrimage and got mortally ill.
He was on the verge of dying when a stray leave came floating in the air and went into his open mouth. The emperor swallowed the leaf. As soon as he ingested the leaf, he started feeling better. The leaf was in fact an antidote of the poison. In reality, it was a tea leaf that saved his life. But another legend tells that the emperor sat down under a tree for rest, while he was on a journey with his fellows. He ordered his servant to boil some water for him. The servant was boiling the water when few leaves came and fell into the pot.
This altered the color of water. That really astonished the emperor and he decided to drink it, rather than throwing it away. He found the drink to be a bit bitter but rather refreshing. Those were tea leaves that fell into the pot of boiling water. Now, nobody is certain about which of the two stories is correct. However, one thing is certain that it’s in fact China where tea was discovered centuries ago and became a part of peoples’ lives. Tea pots were also found in the tombs of kings of Han dynasty that ruled from 206 BC to 220 AD.
History of Tea and Other Facts
But friends, tea was initially used as a medicine. Tea used to be a medicine in the Han dynasty. It was under the Tang dynasty that tea became the national drink of China. Tea had become really famous in China by then. So much so that a writer by the name of Lu Yu wrote a book about tea, towards the end of 8th century. It was known as ‘the Classic of Tea’. How did tea reach Japan? As the tea became the national drink of China in the Tang dynasty, some Japanese monks were also visiting the place.
They instantly liked the drink as they tried it for the first time. They took tea seeds with them back to Japan. Japanese also liked this drink and they made it a part of their traditions. That was the beginning of Japanese Tea Ceremonies that are still a thing in Japan. How did tea reach Europe? Portuguese were the first among the Europeans to try this drink. And because Portuguese merchants and missionaries were the first among Europeans to visit Asia. They tried it and were pleased with it.
And on their way back, they brought tea back to their homeland as gifts for their families and friends. However, if we talk about tea trade, it was started by the Dutch. By the end of the 16th centuries, they had started trading along the Portuguese trade routes. During the early 17th centuries, they had established a trading post in the island of Java. In 1606, the first consignment of tea was shipped from Java to Netherlands. Soon it became a fashionable drink among the Dutch people.
And from there, it gradually spread to other European countries. But due to its expensive price, it was only limited in the rich community. It stayed out of reach of the poor. How did tea reach Britain? Queen Catherine of Braganza was the person who made tea famous in England. She was a Portuguese princess and married Charles II in 1662. She was really fond of drinking tea and that’s why other people also joined her in the activity. Catherine, who stayed the Queen of Britain from 1662-1685, made tea a famous drink in the British Elite.
That period also marks the start of colonial expansionism for Britain. This drive of colonialism took tea along with other things to all the British colonies. By 1700, tea was much more common in Europe as compared to coffee. But until then, it was still being cultivated only in China. Tea had become a really profitable item and huge ships only sailed to transport tea from one place to another. Heavy taxation also contributed to its high prices during that era. The first tax on tea was imposed by Britain in 1689.
And it was 25 pence. It was so high that it almost stopped the tea trade. But then it was reduced to 5 pence in 1692. Smuggling of Tea A 7 year long war with France had almost bankrupted Britain. In order to pay their debts, the English King Charles III imposed heavy taxes on the American colonies. In 1766, Americans were made to pay taxes on paper, paint, glass, lead and tea. Upon the protests of Americans, all taxes were waived off except for the one on tea. After that, the Americans boycotted the tea company.
And then they began to get smuggled tea from the Dutch company. The smuggling caused a dent to the exports of East India Company and tea stock stated getting getting rotten by the tonnes in their stores. As a response, the British Parliament passed the tea act in 1773 to save the East India company. The act granted the sole rights of selling tea in the British colonies to East India company. The company was no longer required to pay an additional tax in England.
However, the tax was not waived off for the Americans who bought the tea from the company and sold in their colonies and states. And that resulted in an immediate backlash. Boston Tea Party The merchants of the American city, Boston, had made a secret organization by the name of ‘Sons of Liberty’. On the night of 16th December 1773, dozens of members of this organization attacked three ships in the Boston harbor. The ships were loaded with East India Company tea. The attackers were clad in the Native American clothing and also carried their famous Tomahawk axes. With these axes, the attackers opened 342 boxes of tea.
And threw the 45 tonnes of tea in those boxes, worth $ 1 million, into the sea. This incident is historically known as Boston Tea Party. The British Army reacted to this by attacking the city and harassing the citizens. This was the incident that sparked the fire to get freedom from the British colonists. Does tea have a positive effect on health or not? Other than imposing taxes on tea, the effects on tea on health were also being discussed in the 18th century.
Because of current research in medical sciences, it has been found out that taking 3-4 cups of tea each day keeps you healthy. But this information was not available to people 250 years ago. During that period, the rich people were quite concerned that increasing use of tea in the working class might not make them lazy and weak. The discussion continued till the 19th century but towards the mid of that century, the discussion reached its conclusion. Consequently, tea became a regular item in business meetings.
Smuggling of Tea from China to India Britain had become a power empire by the mid of 19th century. It ruled a major part of the world, including India. Hence, the East India company was responsible for the trade of all items from the East. But the company had to buy expensive tea from China and then it was shipped worldwide through sea routes. That made the prices go even further up. That’s why the British wanted to cultivate tea in their own colony, India.
But growing tea was an unsolved mystery as the Chinese had kept it a secret. Only they knew how to grow the tree plants and how to collect tea leaves. For that purpose, the East India company sent a spy by the name Robert Fortune to China in 1848. Robert was an expert and trained botanist. He understood that planting a few trees would not help them. Rather they’d have to smuggle a large of tea plants and leaves to India, so that a large scale cultivation could begin there.
But he also needed help of Chinese workers so that they could help in the production of tea in India. So, Robert Fortune disguised himself as a Chinese merchant and set off on his journey. His destination was the Chinese region of Fujian, that was rather well known for special black tea plantation on its mountains. Robert’s mission became successful as he was eventually able to sneak tea plants and seeds along with some laborers. Under his watch, the East India company started growing tea in Assam.
That’s how the tea plantations in India started. Where the Chinese used to add tea to boiling water for thousands of years, the British added sugar in the tea at first, followed by milk. This way, tea got its current form that we have today. Friends do give us your feedback about this artical in the comments section. Thank You.