Indian history attributes the discovery of tea to Prince Bodhi-
Dharma, an Indian saint who founded the Japanese Zen school of
Buddhism. In 520 A.D., he left India to preach Buddhism in China. .
In around 1823, a British Army Major Robert Bruce stumbled upon
indigenous tea bushes growing in the Northeast region of Assam,
India. With this discovery, the British East India Company seized the
opportunity to experiment with growing tea in not only Assam but in
Darjeeling, a region in Northeastern India at the foot of the
Himalayas. An East India Company employee, Dr. Campbell, first
planted Darjeeling tea seeds in his garden at Beechwood, Darjeeling.
The planting proved so successful that in 1847 the British
government began developing tea estates in the area.
This marked the beginning of a new tea industry in India and an end
to reliance on Chinese grown tea. With tea plantations springing up
all over parts of India and the advent of the industrial revolution, the
tea trade in India would flourish.
In the latter half of the sixteenth century there are the first brief
mentions of tea as a drink among Europeans. These are mostly from
Portuguese who were living in the East as traders and missionaries.
But although some of these individuals may have brought back
samples of tea to their native country, it was not the Portuguese
who were the first to ship back tea as a commercial import. This was
done by the Dutch, who in the last years of the sixteenth century
began to encroach on Portuguese trading routes in the East. By the
turn of the century they had established a trading post on the island
of Java, and it was via Java that in 1606 the first consignment of tea
was shipped from China to Holland. Tea soon became a fashionable
drink among the Dutch, and from there spread to other countries in
continental western Europe, but because of its high price it remained
a drink for the wealthy.
Since 1600, the British East India Company had a monopoly on
importing goods from outside Europe, and it is likely that sailors on
these ships brought tea home as gifts. But the first dated reference
to tea in this country is from an advert in a London newspaper,
Mercurius Politicus, from September 1658. It announced that 'China
Drink, called by the Chinese, Tcha, by other Nations Tay alias Tee'
was on sale at a coffee house in Sweeting's Rents in the City. The
first coffee house had been established in London in 1652.
Tea initially came to America in the mid 1600s via the Dutch who started a settlement in New Amsterdam, which after acquiring the colony, the English renamed it New York.
Apart from their famous yum cha culture that is native to southern China, Hong Kong has been using tea extensively over the years. They have their own localized version of English tea as well, the famous Hong Kong-style milk tea.
One of the first countries introduced to tea, it became a staple drink for the religious classes of Japanese priests.. Soen Nagatani developed Japanese sencha or roasted tea in 1738, which is an unfermented form of green tea and the most popular beverage in Japan today.
Tea has been used in simple rites by aristocracy since time immemorial in Korea.Green tea is still the most popular variety, while alternatives like chrysanthemum tea, mugwort tea and persimmon leaf tea are also served.
The country has some specialty teas like the Jasmine tea and Lotus tea that are world-famous today, and also produces as well as consumes high quantities of black and oolong teas.
The mild weather, fresh spring water and soil quality has made the region of Gilan in North Iran the largest tea cultivator of the country. The country uses tea extensively in everyday use.
One of the largest tea markets in the world, Turkish black tea is even more popular than the very famous Turkish coffee.
It has some of the most famous oolong tea and green tea in the world and also is home to many western-styled teas.
Tea was introduced in Australia by the British and most of the tea produced and consumed in Australia is black tea.
The 4th biggest tea producing country after China, India and Kenya, Sri Lanka has some great teas and their Ceylon tea is world-famous
But as the tea auction declined, an essential element of modern tea-drinking took off - the tea bag. Tea bags were invented in America in the early twentieth century, but sales only really took off in Britain in the 1970s. Nowadays it would be hard for many tea-drinkers to imagine life without them.
Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water –– and from sugary Turkish Rize tea to salty Tibetan butter tea, there are almost as many ways of preparing the beverage as there are cultures on the globe.
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