Who Invented Tea? Tea is the world’s most popular drink after water and one of the healthiest. If you’ve ever wondered where tea comes from and how we’ve gotten to the point where it’s served in every corner of the world, we invite you to have a cup of hot tea and explore its history together.
Probably until today you have thought that tea is the heritage of the English. However, the origin of the tea plant dates back to many years before Christ and places us in China.
According to the most widespread legend, in the year 2737 BC, the Chinese emperor Shen Nung, a wise man and scholar, insisted that all drinking water should be boiled for hygiene reasons.
One day the emperor lay down under a tree.
When some of the leaves of this tree fell into the water that his servants boiled, the emperor felt a special aroma and could not resist trying that strange concoction. He found it exquisite.
The leaves turned out to be from a tea tree, Camellia sinensis. Now, in India, the discovery of tea is attributed to the monk Bodhidharma founder of the form of Zen Buddhism – in the 6th century AD, who used it as a medicinal and comforting tonic during his travels.
But Japan is also involved in this story.
The History Of Tea?
Between 618-907 AD (Tang Dynasty), Buddhist monks studying in China brought the custom of drinking tea to Japan. Initially, only the wealthy and priests had access to it.
The latter, who drank tea to stay awake and meditate, soon developed the Japanese tea ceremony to share it in a sacred and spiritual way. The ceremony became so relevant that the samurai adopted this tradition and it also became a military ritual.
The Emperor of Japan greatly enjoyed the tea and imported seeds from China to be planted in Japan, thus making the tea accessible to more people.
Tea finally reached the West, in seventeenth-century England, when King Charles II married the Portuguese princess Catalina de Braganza who, accustomed to drinking this tea, quickly transformed it into the drink of royalty. The tea was not produced there but was imported into Britain from India through the East India Company.
Tea time or tea parties became an elite custom in aristocratic society.
In future editions, we will tell you about how it is customary to drink tea in different cultures.
Who Invented The Tea Bag?
Boiling water and dipping a teabag in the cup may seem like a very common gesture for the vast majority of consumers of this drink, but oddly enough, tea bags were not popularized in Europe until a few decades ago. Its origin dates back to the beginning of the 20th century and it turns out that it was by chance.
Since tea broke into British society in the 17th century, it has been consumed by placing the leaves directly in the kettle with hot water and pouring them into the cups after regulatory time has passed. Over time, small perforated metal balls like those that we can find in stores today began to be used to introduce the tea, leave it to steep in the cups, and remove it with the help of a chain.
The origin of the first tea bag dates back to the first decade of the 20th century and the invention was made by the American – lovers of comfort and labor-saving – Tomas Sullivan, a tea merchant who started sending samples to his customers of your products in silk bags. Some of the clients figured that, for convenience, this should be used in the same way as metal infusers, so they put it directly into the hot water, instead of emptying the tea and disposing of the bag. And this is how the first tea bag accidentally emerged.
In response to comments from clients that the silk mesh was too fine, Sullivan refined the design of the pouch, which went from silk to chiffon and later to paper. During the 1920s, the sachet evolved for commercial production and became popular in the United States. There were sachets of two sizes: single-dose for cups and larger for the saucepan; and its characteristics were the same as those we know today: a rectangular pouch with a cord to pull it and an ornate label at the end.
Meanwhile, in the Old Continent, they viewed with suspicion that American innovation supposed a radical change in the way of preparing tea. With the Second World War, there was a shortage of material and it was not until the 1950s that tea bags finally began to become popular in British society, at the same time that the devices that facilitated household chores spread. Comfort won the battle over the British teapot tradition.
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Thus, little by little, more and more companies adopted tea bags and although in the early 1960s only 3% of British tea was produced in bags, today it is around 96%.