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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

History of Tea

History of Tea
Teas have been cultivated for thousands of years in Asia. Based on differences in morphology between Camellia sinensis var. assamica and Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, botanists have long asserted a dual botanical origin for tea. Camellia sinensis var. assamica is native to the area from Yunnan province, China to the northern region of Burma and the state of Assam in India. Camellia sinensis var. sinensis is native to eastern and southeastern China.

In2737 B.C. the second emperor of China, Shen Nung, discovers tea when tea leaves blow into his cup of hot water. The pleasant aroma and refreshing taste enchanted him and soon everyone in the realm was drinking tea.

In 593 Buddhism and tea journey from China to Japan. Japanese priests studying in China carried tea seeds and leaves back. Japan was introduced to tea by Yensei, a returning Buddhist priest residing in China at the time of the discovery. Tea was immediately embraced by Japanese society and resulted in the creation of the intricate Japanese Tea Ceremony, elevating tea to an art form.

In 749 Japanese monk Gyoki plants the first tea bushes in 49 Buddhist temple gardens. Tea in Japan is rare and expensive, enjoyed mostly by high priests and the aristocracy.

In 780 First tea tax imposed in China. Chinese poet-scholar Lu Yu writes the first book of tea titled Ch’a Ching (The Classic of Tea) in timely alignment with the Taoist beliefs. The book covers detailed ancient Chinese tea cultivation and preparation techniques.

In Venice by the 10th century it was beginning to prosper in the trade of the Levant. By the early part of the 13th century it enjoyed a monopoly of the trade of the Middle East, and by the 15th century it was a formidable power in Europe. Part of Venice's great wealth came from trading in the spices of the East, which it obtained in Alexandria and sold to northern and western European buyer-distributors at exorbitant prices. Earlier caravan leaders had mentioned tea, but were unclear as to its service format or appearance (One reference suggests the leaves be boiled, salted, buttered, and eaten!).

In 1597 Tea is mentioned for the first time in an English translation of Dutch navigator Jan Hugo van Linschooten's travels, in which he refers to tea as chaa. It appears as "Chai Catai'(Tea of China) in the book 'Delle Navigatione et Viaggi (Voyages and Travels) by Giambattista Ramusio (1485-1557).

In year 1610 The Dutch bring back green tea from Japan. Dutch East India Company market tea as an exotic medicinal drink, but it’s so expensive only the aristocracy can afford the tea and its serving pieces. Peter Stuyvesant brought tea to the American colonists in New Amsterdam, later called New York in 1650. Soon the colonists were drinking more tea than all England.

In 1657 The first tea is sold as a health beverage in London, England at Garway's Coffee House.

In 1773 In protest of British tea taxes and in what becomes known as the Boston Tea Party, colonists disguised as Native Americans board East India Company ships (Dartmouth) and unload 340 chests of tea into the harbor Americans refused to accept dutiable goods ashore.
The British government's closure of Boston Harbor and the arrival of British troops on American soil started the historic War of Independence. The Boston Tea Party leading to the War of Independence. Such “tea parties” are repeated in Philadelphia, New York, Maine, North Carolina, and Maryland through 1774.

In the 1880's, America came to the forefront as the biggest importer of tea due to faster clipper ships and the ability to pay its debts in gold. A tea plantation owner introduced iced tea to the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. It was an extremely warm day and his hot tea booth was being passed up by the crowds in favor of cold drinks. As desperate measure, since he was out time and money for even coming to the Fair, he added ice to the vats of liquid hot tea and in the process made it one of the highlights of the 1904 World's Fair.

The tea bag came along as a surprise. Samples of tea at the turn of the twentieth century were given out in small silk bags and instead of opening the bags, the tea bag in its entirety was being dropped into hot water by consumers. Quickly, a tea company sprang into action and patented the tea bag. Thomas J. Lipton was responsible for designing a four-sided tea he dubbed the 'flo-thru' tea bag, which allowed tea to steep more quickly in the cup than the customary two-sided bag.

Tea May Offer 10 Major Health Benefits
1) Green tea may prevent cancer
2) Green tea may restrict blood cholesterol
3) Green tea may control high blood pressure
4) Green tea may lower blood sugar
5) Green tea may suppress aging
6) Green tea refreshes thebody
7) Green tea may deter food poisoning
8) Green tea may prevent and treat skin disease
9) Green tea may stop cavitie
10) Green tea may fight virus
History of Tea

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