Tea History


2737 BCE – Founding myth of the discovery of tea by the divine Emperor Shen Nong

1122BCE – The Shijing, or Book of Songs, describes for the first time the use of tea leaves.

618 - 907 – The Tang dynasty and the first age of tea (boiled tea)

circa 700 – Tea is distinguished from other bitter plants by the ideogram CHA.

circa 780 – Lu Yu writes the first book devoted to tea, the Cha Jing (Classic of Tea)

circa 805 – Buddhist monks introduce tea in Japan

960 – 1279 – The Song dynasty and the second important period in the history of Chinese tea (the age of whisked tea)

1191 – A monk named Eisai brings the first tea seeds to Japan. Eisai wrote a treatise on the medicinal virtues of tea in 1214.

1368 - 1644 – The Ming dynasty and the beginning of the age of infused tea, as we know tea today.

1582 – Sen No Rikyu codifies the Japanese tea ceremony, basing it on the principles of harmony, respect, purity and serenity, which are characteristic of the Buddhist movement.

1599 – Queen Elizabeth I founds the East Indian Company, which held an almost total monopoly over the tea trade in the British Empire until 1834.

1610 – The first importation of tea into European territory (Amsterdam), by the Dutch, is recorded.

1641 – 1853 – Japan is closed to all foreign trade.

1645 – Delivery of the first chest of tea at the port of London.

1712 – First botanical description of the tea plant Thea japonense by Kaempfer

1773 – The Boston Tea Party, which was an act of rebellion against the high taxes levied on tea by the East Indian Company (which monopolized tea sales in the British colonies). Shipments of tea from three ships were thrown into the harbour, marking the start of the American Revolution.

Late 1700 to early 1800s – Trade relations between England and China sour. The British introduce opium trafficking to China to create a dependency among the Chinese and to get them to exchange it for tea.

1823 – Robert Bruce discovers wild tea plants in the jungle in Assam, India.

1834 – The Tea Exchange opens in London

1839-1842 – China's emperor orders the port of Canton closed to prevent opium trafficking. The first Opium War, between England and China, ends in the Treaty of Nanjing, in favour of English.

1848 – The British Empire send a spy, Robert Fortune, to discover China's tea-growing secrets.

1856 – 1860 The second Opium War in China, which ends with the Treaty of Tianjin.

1859 – The start of the tea industry in Darjeeling, India

1866 – A famous clipper race from Fuzhou in China to the port of London in England takes place between the Ariel and the Taeping.

1869 – The parasite Hernileia vastatrix wipes out the coffee plantations of Sri Lanka. The country switches to tea growing a few years later.

Circa 1910 – Thomas Sullivan invents the tea bag

circa 1930 – The invention of the CTC (crushing, tearing, curling) process allows for large-scale tea production.

Circa 1970 – The introduction of a new fermentation process for Pu Erh teas speeds up their ageing.

1976 – Start of the Luku tea contests in Taiwan.

1987 – Selection of 22 tea cultivars and varieties considered the best for growing tea in China.

2007 – The Pu Erh speculation bubble bursts.