Tea started out as a type of medicine and developed into a popular drink. In the olden times and still today, some people think of tea as a form of art which needs a master to find its best qualities. There are bad tea and good tea just like paintings. There is no one way to make the perfect tea. Every cup brewed with fresh leaves has its story to tell. Just like art, tea also has different schools of thought. These can be broken down into three main categories, boiled tea, steeped tea, and whipped tea. Modern people most often choose to steep tea. Each method of preparing tea is indicative of the time in which it was most popular. Each type of tea was prepared differently. For example, cake tea was boiled, tea in leaf form was steeped, and tea in powdered form was whipped.
The tea plant is native to the region of southern China. It was used very early in Chinese history for medicinal purposes. It was renowned for strengthening the will, relieving fatigue, and repairing eyesight. It was both applied externally in paste form and consumed as a beverage. Taoists believed it to be a very special ingredient, and Buddhists used it to help prevent sleepiness during long meditation sessions.
Where Tea Leaves Originate From
The first tea leaves were thought to have originated in Southeast Asia, especially parts of Southern China and parts of India, to name a few. People in these regions would pick the leaves, then put them in boiling water to allow the flavors to be released. It was also used for medicinal purposes since the Chinese believed the leaves had special healing powers. They also believed this beverage would help brain function. In these early times, the leaves were also excellent items with which to bargain. Once countries in Europe began colonizing and trading with these tea leaf cultivators, this beverage quickly spread across the globe.
In Yangtze Valley, Tea was a popular drink by the time of the fifth century. The methods of tea preparation were in primitive stages at this time. Leaves were often steamed, then crushed and formed into a cake. It was then boiled along with rice, salt, spices, ginger, orange peel, and milk. Tea has also influenced Chinese ceramics. Many considered blue to be the best color for serving tea in a cup as it blended well with the slightly green color of the tea. Others preferred dark brown bowls.
Later, tea began being served with the leaves being the only ingredient. Choice of water and temperature became quite important when making the drink. It was believed that mountain spring water was best, followed by river water.
Tea became a part of British life
By 1750, this hot beverage was considered the national drink of England. The people of the British Empire were some of the first in recorded history to begin adding sweeteners, like sugar, to the drink. During the 1800s, the Duchess of Bedford began having little gatherings of people over in the late afternoon to enjoy this beverage with some light sandwiches, scones, and fruit hours before dinner was to be served.
How Tea Played a Important Role in America
This drink came to North America when the British colonists left England to find a new life. The beverage played a major role in American history when it was dumped into the Boston Harbor by colonists who were angry over the taxation of the drink without representation. For Americans, this beverage did not take off regarding popularity as it did in the British Empire. In fact, for hundreds of years, Americans have been known to prefer coffee; however, that is changing as studies are constantly proving that tea leaves might be better for the body.
During the Sung dynasty, whipped tea became popular. Tea leaves were ground with a small mill into a fine powder and then whipped with a bamboo whisk in hot water. This method leads to the use of different tea varieties and tools. Tea is still very much an important aspect of Chinese and Japanese culture. Tea ceremonies are held often and taken very seriously. Some popular teas today are Tazo Tea, Yogi Tea, ginger tea, and hibiscus tea. We can now all enjoy a hot cup of this great beverage in many flavors.
Because of the many new studies that have been released concerning green tea health benefits, more and more people want to know about the history of this healthy tea. People want to know what makes this drink good for the body and how it was brought to the United States consumer. These are things that consumers who are cautious about the things they buy would want to know. It is important to know where products come from and how they came to be the way they are today to fully understand the positive aspects that this beverage can have on the body.
The history of this beverage is really interesting because buying and selling the product has helped many nations and empires become very powerful. In fact, some would argue that countries like China and England would not be what they are today without the industry that came from cultivating tea leaves.