Brief History of Tea

Welcome back to Katherine’s Tea Pot!

It’s a frigid one out there in Burlington, VT so I think it’s a perfect day drink a cup of tea and to take a look WAY back in history and figure out where tea actually originated from.

Since the very beginning was so long ago, there aren’t exactly known facts, but a legend! Nothing more exciting then to read about a long told legend! It starts over 5,000 years ago in ancient China. There was an emperor named Shen Nung who was a pretty smart cookie, with interests in science, the arts and the lovely world around him. Back in the day, for a warm beverage people would just boil up some hot water and drink that; hygienic purposes of course. Anyway, Shen Nung and his royal posy were traveling about the kingdom when they stopped to take a break. His servants began to boil up some water, when some leaves from a nearby bush blew in the wind and coincidentally landed in the pot of water. The clear liquid then turned a brownish color making the servants very worried that they ruined the emperor’s water. However, because Shen Nung was as curious as a kitty, he decided to try the new beverage. Rather than being disgusted, he was quiet refreshed! And so tea became the new thing. Keep in mind though, this is just a legend (sounds pretty true though huh?).

Now in order to keep this history of tea brief I’m going to have to do some quick mentioning of facts and then move on to the next era of tea!

A few hundred years later, a man named Lu Yu raised by Chinese Buddhist monks wrote a book all about tea entitled Ch’a Ching, (that seems kind of silly now because we use that phrase when think something is going to make big money). When he was younger he wasn’t so much into following the path of the men who raised him, but rather was interested in tea and how different areas of China prepared and cultivated tea. He became super popular because of this, and it also helped start the globalization of tea.

Second stop Japan! A Buddhist priest named Yeisei who visited China decided to go back to Japan with his new found knowledge of tea, its benefits to meditation and some tea seeds. He quickly became known as the “Father of Tea”! One heck of a title. Once tea was introduced to Japan it took off like wild fire and was soon used all the time. Eventually Japan adopted a unique art form of a Tea Ceremony. This was basically a fancy title for brewing and serving a cup of tea. However, the Japanese believed it took years of meticulous training, grace and patience to be able to perfect the art of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Unfortunately over the next hundred years this ceremony eventually became more of a competition among royals rather than practicing the Zen aspect of it. Boo!

Beginning around the late 1300s a movement was started in Japan by Ikkyu (a price who eventually became a priest) to revert the direction of the now messed up Tea Ceremony back to the Japanese culture for its original purposes of art. Horray!

Now to make an abrupt jump, eventually in 1560 the FIRST European (well to write about it) finally tried tea!! That personally made me super excited; hence double the amount of exclamation points. Tea is getting closer to America! From there Portugal developed a trade route which allowed them to now acquire tea. YAY Europe! Then tea eventually spread around all of Europe except to Britain. Believe it or not tea came to America in 1650 before it got to Great Britain in around 1653. Beatcha England!

Holy Facts! Even my brain is a little soar form that. But you have to admit, it’s pretty cool! Don’t worry, I promise not all my blog posts will be this long or text book like. I hope you enjoyed learning about the origins of tea though! Hey, now if someone asks you if you learned anything new today you have something to tell them! Hurray for awesome informative blog posts 🙂

Sources used (I may be smart but I’m not Google):

Stash Tea – http://www.stashtea.com/from+2737+b_c_+through+today.aspx

Google Images:

http://bit.ly/fwarJz

http://bit.ly/fwarJz

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About katherinemcgrath

I am a senior marketing student at Champlain College. I am a tea enthusiast and cannot wait to share my knowledge about tea and learn from others as well.
This entry was posted in General Tea Posts. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Brief History of Tea

  1. Timothy McGrath says:

    Really good blog.

    Ummmm. . . It’s SORE, not SOAR.

    Love ya,

    Tim.

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