How Tea Became Known In The West
The Chinese discovered the many uses of tea. It originated in their vast country. Knowing how to use the tea plant for medicinal purposes at first, they soon discovered that tea is a source of relax...
China has a great variety of tea species. Some are famous for their restorative flavor. The best known varieties are Qimen Black Tea and Biluochun Tea. Xihu Longjing Tea belongs in the same group of highly desired teas. There is much more interesting information about China’s exquisite teas. You can find this commentary about the ten best known teas in China in our select TeaVivre.
Even though in China, drinking tea was already a widespread custom for centuries, it took until the fifteenth century to reach the Western Hemisphere. Not until late in the fourteen hundreds did China export tea regularly to the West. What was largely responsible for the quick propagation and embrace of tea for pleasure consumption was the tea-horse road which was the primary trade route.
The Importance Of Ancient Trade Routes
Chinese history relates the time of the two dynasties, the Song Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty, to be crucial to the spread of tea. It was during that time, that the Republic of China was trading horses with tea. This trade happened between the two nationalities of Han and Tibet.
When the Tibetans were introduced to tea they first imported it in a regular basis. Then they decided to grow it themselves, for trade as well as daily consumption. In this way, the tea that arrived in Tibet from China was exported further to India, Nepal and Bhutan. Thus, the importance of this ancient Tea-Horse Trade Route cannot be dismissed.
Today, everyone is familiar with tea. In more than fifty countries tea is regularly consumed and loved. In fact, coffee, cocoa and tea together make up the number one hot or cold non-alcoholic beverages in the entire world.
When Portuguese ships first landed at Guangdong, China, they were the first to take on tea for trade and transported it to Europe. The well-known Ming Dynasty was a large proponent of tea trade in the early sixteenth century.
Between the years of 1580 and 1640, the Portuguese lost some of their influence and hold on their Colonies. During that time, tea trade diminished. Trading volume was restored when Dutch trading in tea began in the first decade on the sixteen hundreds. The Dutch route brought Chinese tea from Macao in China to Banten, Indonesia and then finally to Holland. Through the sea-faring efforts of the Dutch, trade between East and West was once again solidly established.
The first uses for tea by the ancient Chinese were for medicinal use only. It was sold in preparations in pharmacies and not known to be used for sustenance or pleasure. When it was finally discovered as a beverage, it was so expensive that its use was limited to the wealthy, although since the Dutch transported the tea, the merchant traders and the sailors tasted this beverage probably before even the wealthy.
After tea became a staple in the wealthy houses of Holland, the rest of Europe wasn’t far behind in adopting it as a desired beverage as well. France, England and Germany were well aware of and accustomed to drinking tea by the mid-seventeenth century. About this same time, the Dutch sailed west and brought tea to what is now North America. It did not take long before tea occupied a prominent role in society. Every upper class lady of the house hosted tea socials from time to time.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am Angel Chen, a tea lover and tea specialist comes from Fujian, China - the hometown of tea. Tea is nature's benediction as well as implicating culture and philosophy. I have a dream to bring the most authentic useful Chinese teas information with well_known tea to all the tea enthusiasts.