Tea ranks among the most frequently consumed beverages in the world. Its history touches upon many cultures and its story is rich and colourful.
Legend has it that tea was discovered in 2737 B.C. by the Chinese Emperor Shen Nong. It is said that Shen Nong observed as a gust of wind blew some tea leaves into boiling water resulting in the interesting brew. Tea was used largely for medicinal purposes in China until the third or fourth century when it became a beverage. It was at this time though a beverage only for the powerful and rich as it was hard to get. By the seventh century tea became more affordable and quickly took over wine’s place as the most popular beverage in China.
In the eight century tea was introduced to Japan, but due to strains in relations between China and Japan, the beverage did not gain any popularity here until it was reintroduced centuries later. It then became a part of life for the Japanese and the Japanese tea ceremony was born.
The Western World was not introduced to tea until the seventeenth century when the Dutch East India Company began transporting the leaves to Holland. Russia at this time also began importing tea on the Silk Road. Finally, in the eighteenth century tea became available to the masses.