During a long day spent roaming the forest in search of edible grains and herbs the weary divine farmer. Accidentally poisoned himself seventy two times before the poisons could end his life a leaf drifted into his mouth he chewed on itea and it revived him and that is how we discovered. Or so an ancient legend goes at least Tea. doesn’t actually cure poisonings but the story of the mythical Chinese inventor of Agriculture highlights teas importance to ancient China archaeological evidence suggests he was first cultivated there as early as six thousand years ago orfifteen hundred years before the pharaohs built the Great Pyramids of Giza that original Chinese tea plant is the same type that’s grown around the world today yet it was originally consumedvery differently it was as a vegetable or cooked with grain porridge only shifted from food to drink fifteen hundred years ago when people realized that a combination of heat and moisturecould create a complex and very taste out of the leafy green. After hundreds of years of variations to the preparation method the standard became to heat pack it into portable cakes grantedinto powder mix with hot water and create a beverage called muo cha and matcha.
Matcha it became so popular that a distinct Chinese tea culture emerged was the subject of books and poetry the favorite drink of emperors and a medium for artists. They would drawextravagant pictures in the foam of the tea, very much like the espresso art you might see in coffee shops today in the 9th century during the Tang dynasty, a Japanese monk brought the first tea plant to Japan the Japanese eventually developed their own unique rituals around tea, leading to the creation of the Japanese tea ceremony. In the 14th century during the Ming dynasty, the chinese emperor shifted the standard from tea pressed into cakes to loose leaf tea. At that point,China still held a virtual monopoly on the world’s teach making tea one of three, essential Chinese export goods, along with porcelain and silk. This gave China a great deal of power and economic influence as tea drinking spread around the world. That spread beganin earnest around the early 1600s when Dutch traders brought tea to Europe in large quantities. Many credit Queen Catherine of Braganza, a Portuguese noble woman, for makingtea popular with the English aristocracy when she married King Charles the 11 in 1661. At the time Great Britain was in the midst of expanding its colonial influence andbecoming the new dominant world power and as Great Britain grew interest in tea spread around the world by seven thousand nine hundred eighty and Europe sold for ten times the price of coffee and the plant was still only grown in China.
The tea tree was so lucrative that the world’s fastest sailboat the clipper ship was born out of intense competition between Western trading companies. All were racing to bring their team back to Europe first to maximize their profits. At first Britain paid for all those Chinese tea with silver. When that proved too expensive, they suggested trading tea for another substance opium. This triggered a public health problem within China as people became addicted to the drug. Then an 1839, A Chineseofficial ordered his men to destroy massive British shipments of opium as a statement against Britain’s influence over China. This Act the first opium war between the two nations fightingraged up and down the Chinese coast until 842 when the defeated team Dynasty ceded the port of Hong Kong to the British and resume trading on unfavorable termsthe war weaken China’s global standing for over a century.
The British East India Company also wanted to be able to grow tea themselves and further control the market so they commissioned by. Robert fortune to steal tea from China in a covertoperation he disguised himself and took a perilous journey through China’s mountainous regions eventually smuggling T. trees and experienced workers into Darjeeling India from there theplant spread further still helping drive t’s rapid growth as an everyday commodity. Today is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water and from sugary Turkish Riza tea tosalty Tibetan but there are almost as many ways of preparing the beverage as there are cultures on the globe.