"The tea began as a medicine and eventually became a drink".
The Book of Tea, Kakuzo Okakura.
The history of tea begins in China. According to legend, it was Emperor Sheng Nung who discovered tea in 2737 BCE, when he slept in the shade of a bush while at his side boiling water in a bowl. Some leaves of this bush fell casually in the boiling water and the emperor found the infusion delicious and invigorating.
The tradition of serving leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) to confer a good flavor to boiled water was first used in China around 250 BC, but it was during the Tang Dynasty (618-906) when the tea began To establish quickly as the national drink and when the poet Lu Wu wrote the first book on tea: Ch'a Ching (The sacred book of tea).
Shortly thereafter, tea was introduced inJapan by Buddhist monks who had traveled to China to study. Drinking tea became a vital part of Japanese culture as well as the development of the Tea Ceremony.
«Like art, tea has its times and its schools. Broadly divided into three main stages: cooked tea, tea and tea infused. Each of these ways of preparing tea respond to the various emotional impulses of the Tang, Sung and Ming dynasties in China».
In Europe, it is not until the end of the 16th century that the first mention of tea as a drink among Europeans is made. These were mainly Portuguese who had lived in the East as missionaries or merchants. However, the first to make real commercial imports of tea was the Dutch, when in the early 17th century they established the Dutch East India Company on the island of Java. In 1606 was made the first shipment of tea from China to Holland. Tea quickly became a fad among European upper classes and spread to other Western countries.
In 1662 thanks to Catalina de Braganza, Portuguese princess and Queen Consort of England, the tea enters the British court and begins to be a drink of fashion among the high classes of the country. The British East India Company began to import tea in 1664, referring to it as "that excellent Chinese drink, which has received the approval of all the doctors, and which the Chinese call tcha".
The first half of the 18th-century London premises dedicated to coffee tasting turned into tea-tasting places, a drink that soon became the most coveted in England and the habit of taking it has been maintained throughout these centuries.
«How important is the role that tea has played in modern history. Colonial America was resigned to oppression until the human capacity for endurance came to an end at the high rates with which tea was taxed. American independence dates from the time when tea boxes were thrown into the water at Boston Harbor».
At the beginning of the 19th century the English tradition of drinking four cups of tea began throughout the day: Early Morning Tea in the early hours of the morning; The "Nice Cup of Tea" during the day; The "Five o'clock Tea" a custom begun by the Duchess Anne of Bedford; And to finish, at night arrives the "High Tea".
At the beginning of the twentieth-century tea is spread throughout most of the world, arriving in Morocco, and the muslin filtering bags are invented in the United States to infuse this drink.