The History of Tea

The British have long been known for their love of tea -- a custom acquired from the Chinese back in the 16th Century, when British entrepreneurs discovered this most refreshing of beverages and started to bring it to England, turning London into the tea capital of the west.

Robert Fortune spent several years in China gathering and shipping more than 20,000 tea plants and seedlings to India, thus establishing the Indian and Sri Lankan tea industries.

Darjeeling is such a famous tea that many people assume it has as long and as illustrious a history as Chinese tea. In fact, Darjeeling tea is a relative newcomer in the world of tea, with a history dating back just over 150 years.

Tea was a daily staple in 18th century colonial America, and the colonists had developed a thriving black market tea trade to circumvent English taxes. This situation eventually culmintated in the Boston Tea Party - one of the decisive events leading up to the American Revolution.

The origins of tea are a topic of legend and mythology. The first evidence of the use of tea are tea containers found in tombs dating from the Han dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD), but tea history surely extends much further back in time.