When most people think of tea, they think of the beverage made from Camellia sinensis, the tea plant. However, tea has a long and complicated history that is often misunderstood. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the history of tea:
1. The word “tea” actually comes from the Min Nan dialect of Chinese, which is spoken in Fujian, Taiwan, and parts of Southeast Asia. The word tê has been found in Chinese documents dating back to the 3rd century AD, but it wasn’t used to refer to the beverage we know as tea until the 10th century.
2. Tea was first introduced to Japan in the early 9th century by a Buddhist monk named Saicho. He brought back tea seeds from China and planted them in his monastery garden.
3. Tea became widely popular in Japan during the 12th century, when another Buddhist monk named Eisai wrote a treatise on the health benefits of drinking tea. He claimed that tea could cure various illnesses, including indigestion and fatigue.
4. Tea first came to Europe in the 16th century, when Portuguese traders brought it back from China. It quickly became popular in Portugal and Spain, and from there it spread to other European countries.
5. The first tea plantings in England were made in the early 17th century. The plants were brought over from the Netherlands, and the first tea garden was established in London in 1652.
6. Tea became fashionable in England during the 18th century, thanks in part to the promotion of tea drinking by the British East India Company. At the time, the company had a monopoly on the importation of tea from China.
7. The British East India Company also played a role in the spread of tea drinking to India. Tea was first planted in India in the early 19th century, and it quickly became popular among the British colonialists.
8. Tea drinking became hugely popular in Britain during the 19th century. At the time, tea was often drunk with milk and sugar, and it was seen as a healthy and refreshing beverage.
9. Tea production in India increased dramatically during the 19th century, and by the early 20th century India was the world’s leading producer of tea.
10. Tea is now consumed all over the world, and it is one of the most popular beverages in the world. Over 3 billion cups of tea are drunk every day!