The Story Of Tea

Camellia sinensis is indigenous to and parts of The wild tea plant can develop into a tree 30 meters high, so that monkey were trained to pick the leaves and throw them down for collection below. Today, under cultivation, Camellia Sinensis is kept to a height of approximately one-meter for easy plucking purposes. There are more than 1,500 teas to choose from more than 29 different listed countries around the world but the main producers are and It is cultivated as a plantation crop, likes acidic soil and a warm climate with at least 50 inches of rain per annum.


Major Robert Bruce discovered tea plants in upper Assam, this discovery virtually laid the foundation of the tea Industry in India. Even after this discovery tea seeds continued to be imported from China, and following germination at the Botanical Garden, Calcutta, they were dispatched to Assam and western Himalayas. The original seeds succeeded only in the Kangra Valley but not in Assam, where attention was paid to cultivate tea from the indigenous stock.


Although the tea habit was acquired by China and its Neighboring countries early, the tea culture reached the West only in the 17th Century. The Europeans could not appreciate the delicacy of tea and the gentle stimulation it produces. But, surprisingly the British liked it immensely. They not only consumed tea by the gallon, but also began cultivating the plant in the Indian state of Assam, and ended the monopoly enjoyed by the Chinese for thousand years.


The first commercial effort in organized tea growing was started by Assam Tea Company in 1839. The pioneering efforts to manufacture tea were made by George Williamson, who gave the first direction in the development of Tea technology in India. By middle of the 19th century corporate tea companies were organized to operate in Assam and elsewhere. By 1856, major production centers began in Darjeeling and Cachar, in the Terai in 1862, and in the Dooars in 1874. This was followed by rapid growth in the Nilgiris, Travancore-Wynaad and the Annamalais.


According to Chinese legend, the story of tea began in 2737 BC. Emperor Shen Nung, who was known as the "Divine Healer", always boiled his water before drinking it. He had observed that those who boiled their water had better health. One afternoon, as he knelt before his boiling water, some leaves from a nearby tree blew into the water. The Emperor noted a delightful aroma and, upon sipping the beverage, proclaimed it heaven sent.

Since this first cup of tea almost five thousand years ago, the popularity of tea has grown to the point that it is now the second most consumed beverage in the world. Only water is more popular. Shortly after Emperor Shen Nung's discovery, tea's popularity spread to Japan and the rest of the Far East. The Dutch first brought tea from China to Europe and America by 1650. In 1669, the East India Company began bringing tea leaves to England, and in 1721, the company was granted a monopoly on all tea imported into the British Empire. Initially, tea was very expensive and available only for royalty and the upper class. At the time, tea prices were $30 to $50 per pound. One pound of tea makes about two hundred tea bags. During the 1800's, tea clippers raced from China to London and other ports. The first clipper to arrive with its cargo fetched the highest prices. Largely because of this new method of speedy transportation, the supply of tea became more plentiful and thus less expensive. 


Tea played a dramatic role in the establishment of the United States of America. In 1767, the British Government put a tax on the tea used by American colonists. Protesting "taxation without representation", the colonists did not allow tea to be unloaded. In December 1773, colonists, dressed as American Indians, boarded ships from the East India Company and threw three hundred chests of tea into Boston harbor. The Boston Tea Party, of course, led to American independence.

America was also the birthplace of iced tea. At the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis in the summer of 1904, the weather was very hot. A young Englishman named Richard Blechynden was serving hot tea for days with no takers. In desperation, he tried pouring tea into glasses with pieces of ice. The beverage was a hit and iced tea was born.



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