Tea Through the Ages
Tea is a comfort, a morning pick-me-up, an evening stress reducer and a cultural touchstone. It’s been touted for its health benefits and turned into a modern-day wonder drug. Tea is the second most popular drink in the world, behind only water. It has played a role in many events throughout history as a commodity and as a beverage.
Beginnings in China
According to Chinese legend tea was invented by the Chinese Emperor Shen Nong in 2737 B.C. As with many great inventions its invention was an accident. Emperor Shen Nong was a herbalist and a scientist who believed that drinking boiled water was a staple of a healthy life. By his decree all of his subjects were required to boil their drinking water. On a visit to one of the distant regions of his empire he and his entourage stopped to rest. While his servants boiled water for him a few leaves fell into the pot.
The emperor decided to taste the aromatic brew and declared it both tasteful and invigorating. From that point on tea spread as a medicinal beverage that gave strength and vigor to the body. It would be almost 2500 years before the drink became a part of daily life though.
Spread to Europe
Tea didn’t spread to Europe until the 17th century, and didn’t become a part of daily life until the 18th century, but once it caught on it REALLY caught on and became one of the largest imports from the East. This made it one of the staple commodities of the East India Company, who were not only granted a monopoly, but the power to do almost anything that they wanted.
You may remember the East India Company as the comically evil antagonist from the second Pirates of the Carribean movie. Let’s just say that that movie toned down the nastiness of the EIC. You have them to thank for the English control of India, opium wars and all kinds of piracy, ransoms and skirmishes. They were also instrumental in bringing tea to the Americas, and providing sugar for that tea in the slave trade.
The American Revolution
The Boston Tea Party gets much more weight in history than it’s really due because it’s a darn good story. As the English try to squeeze more and more money out of the colonists with more taxes on certain goods, one of their targets is tea, one of the few comforts of jolly old England available to the Americans. In a fit of piqué a few Bostonians raided a British ship and dumped an entire load of tea into the harbor sending the message that they would rather go without than submit to further taxes.
Why Does Tea Matter?
To coffee drinkers this may not mean much, but tea has spawned cultural significance all across the world. China, Japan and India have elaborate tea ceremonies so complex that a person can spend their entire lives perfecting them. In the Western world offering tea and snacks is an important part of hospitality. Tea sets remain valuable heirlooms to many families.
As modern science has turned its eye to tea ancient claims of health benefits have been borne out. It’s full of anti-oxidants and has shown efficacy against cancer. People with a regular intake of tea are more likely to have healthy digestion and are less likely to decline mentally in old age. It also has caffeine for a more immediate boost of energy and good feelings.
It’s incredibly simple. Brew a cup, put your face in the steam and it will all become clear.
Author: Renee Varney is a freelance blogger and occasionally writes for delivery.com a site she loves using to find local Food Delivery Online – particularly Chinese Delivery.