Accidental Discovery of Tea
In 2737 BC, legend has it that leaves from a tree dropped into Emperor Shen Nung’s cup of boiling water. The servant had boiled the water for hygienic reasons before the emperor was to drink it. But this time the water was turned brown by the wayward leaves. Being a scientist, the emperor was curious and decided to try some of this new liquid. He found the liquid aromatic and refreshing. Since that serendipitous beginning, tea has been part of many cultures down through the years.
Tea moves to Japan via Buddhist Priests
2000 years after the beginnings of tea, Buddhist priests traveling between Japan and China introduced this drink to Japan. The priests brought tea seeds back to be cultivated in Japan. This was such a success that tea quickly became an integral part of Japanese life. The Japanese Tea Ceremony was soon perfected with the help of Ch’a Ching (The Tea Book, written by Chinese Scholar Lu Yu).
Tea Leaps to Europe through Trade
Tea reaches Europe during the 1600’s, with credit being claimed by both the Portuguese and the Dutch. The Portuguese with their advance navy, created trade routes to China and brought back tea to Portugal. From Lisbon, a seaport of Portugal, the Dutch East India Company transported the tea to Holland, France and Germany. Soon the Dutch were trading directly with the Chinese. This beverage was initially popular among the wealthy, but soon become prevalent in Russia and England as their beverage of choice.
Tea in America
In the mid 1600’s, the Dutch were actively involved in trade with the Western world. Peter Stuyvesant was the first to bring tea to the colonists of America. These settlers were heavy volume tea drinkers; they consumed more tea than all of England at that time. This fact led to one of America’s most famous events, the Boston Tea Party. The British Government mistakenly thought that they could excessively raise the tax on the importing of tea because many Americans were hooked on this drink. Instead, the result was the Boston Tea Party, an event that led to the American Revolution.