history of tea

The history of tea is complex and fascinating. It dates back to 2737 B.C. The timeline below gives you an idea of how tea gained its popularity in the world.

2737 B.C.

Legend has it that the first cup of tea was brewed when dried leaves landed in a boiling cup of water served to the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung.

59 B.C.

In 59 B.C., Wang Bao, of Sichuan Province, wrote the first known book with instructions on buying and preparing tea – titled A Contract with a Servant.

220 A.D.

Famed physician and surgeon Hua Tuo wrote Shin Lun, in which he describes tea’s ability to improve mental functions.

350 A.D.

A Chinese dictionary cites tea for the first time.

400 to 600 A.D.

The demand for tea increased all over China. Farmers started to cultivate tea.

479 A.D.

Turkish traders started to deal with tea on the border of Mongolia.

589-618 A.D.

During the Sui Dynasty, Buddhist monks introduced tea to Japan. For the first time, a priest named Saicho bought tea seeds to Japan.

780 A.D.

The first tea tax was imposed in China. In the same period, poet Lu Yu wrote about the use of tea in Taoist beliefs. The book provided detailed information about tea cultivation and the method of preparing tea.

800 A.D. – 900 A.D.

The Zen Buddhists took tea along with them and it became an essential part of their practice, it was believed that tea improved their concentration power.

960 A.D. to 1280 A.D.

During the Sung Dynasty, teacups & porcelain pottery was introduced in teahouses.


When the Mongols took over China and established the Yuan Dynasty, the significance of tea for aristocrats reduced, making the beverage a common man’s drink.


During the Ming Dynasty, the chinese started drinking tea again, by steeping whole leaf tea in hot water.

1422 to 1502

Zen priests introduced the Japanese tea ceremony, ‘Cho-na-yu’ meaning ‘hot water tea’.


A Venetian author claimed in his book that “the lives of Asians were longer due to tea drinking practices”, thus introducing tea to the Europeans


Dutch companies brought green tea from Japan and tea became popular in the country.


German physicians wrote about the dangers of tea, which started a debate in various parts of Europe. The promotion of tea reduced the consumption of alcohol in many parts of Europe.

1657 – 1664

Britain was one of the last countries to get tea as a gift and it was sold as a health beverage. Afternoon tea was introduced making the lifestyle of the British healthier.


Hundreds of traders traveled on camels to fulfill the rising demand for tea in Russia. Novel tea-drinking methods like topping tea with lemon or drinking tea with sugar held between teeth were invented when tea became popular in Russia.


More than 2,40,000 pounds of tea was imported to England.

1835 A.D.

The East India Company promoted the tea plantations in Assam, India. The unique properties of Asaam tea, made the beverage very popular in England.

1840 – 1850

Tea plantations were started in Sri Lanka.


Tea was planted in many parts of Darjeeling.


Richard Blechynden created Ice Tea for the St. Louis World Fair.


Thomas Sullivan accidently created tea bags when he sent tea to his clients in New York. The clients started steeping the tea with the bags intact.


Over 2.5 million tea is grown and produced in more than 40 countries worldwide.


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