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The Chinese have consumed tea for over a thousand years. Tea was developed through three main stages: boiling, mashing and by beating. Steaming tea leaves was the primary process used for centuries. Later, tea leaves were roasted and crumbled rather than steamed. This gave birth to the practice of brewed tea.

Teas was adopted as an elegant past-time and went onto become a royal beverage for the nobility. Poet Lu Yu when the Tan dynasty was at its peak wrote the first book on tea “Ch’a King” or the “The Tea Code”. According to Cha Jing tea drinking was widespread. The book describes how tea plants were grown, the leaves processed, and tea prepared as a beverage. It also describes how tea was evaluated. The book also discusses where the best tea leaves were produced.

Tea became a drink of the religious classes in Japan when Japanese priests and envoys, sent to China to learn about its culture, brought tea to Japan. Ancient recordings indicate the first batch of tea seeds were brought by a priest named Saicho in 805 and then by another named Kukai. For the Japanese, tea is more than a drink. Green tea became a staple among cultured people in Japan—a brew for the gentry and the Buddhist priesthood alike.

Via the caravan routes, tea penetrated all Mongol lands, Iran and the Muslim countries and Russia before reaching Europe.

The Europeans got to know about tea when an Arab trader named Suleiman brought it.

But it was not until 1610 that there was a large-scale expansion of consumption of tea in the Western World. The French East India Company established regular relations with the Far East introducing tea into Holland in 1610, to France in 1636 and to England in 1650.

In the 19th Century England, tea became the national drink. Queen Victoria initiated afternoon tea at five o’clock. Tea goes down in history with the Boston Tea Party on December 16th, 1773- the first act of American Independence.

 
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