When did people start drinking tea?

Posted on Mar 9, 2022      361

Even today, wild tea bushes can still be found in the mountains of China. No one knows now how man figured out that the leaves of this plant can be brewed with boiling water to get a fragrant and tasty drink. But ancient Chinese written sources testify that over five thousand years ago they cultivated wild tea and grew it on plantations. So, even back then, people in China were drinking tea.

This drink was not only tasty but also healthy and invigorating. The first Europeans who visited China in the Middle Ages also appreciated its qualities. But the Chinese kept a closely guarded secret about the tea plant itself and the way it was processed. But since the 16th century China supplied the finished product as sliced and dried “teapots” to Europe.

Still, an Englishman living in China found out what kind of plant this was and how its leaves should be processed. At the cost of almost detective tricks, he even got the seeds of the tea.

So the British grew tea in their colony of India. Later, an Indian variety of wild tea was discovered here. Having studied its properties, English breeders not only cultivated it and received a famous Indian tea but also crossed it with Chinese tea. The resulting new variety was mainly cultivated on the island of Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka). That is why it is called Ceylon tea.