The Story of Tea

2,700
2,700

Origins in China

Tea has a long and rich history beginning in China in 2737BC.According to legend, leaves from a tea bush drifted in the wind into a pot of hot water being boiled for the Chinese emperor Shen Nung.

2,000+

Tea Takes Off

Tea was popular for thousands of years before it reached Europe.

 Revered by the Chinese for its health-giving properties, it became their favourite drink, as its function moved from medicinal to becoming part of everyday social life. 

2,000+
800
800

The Silk Road

By the eighth century AD, the Chinese were trading their tea across the world, from Tibet to the Silk Road, which stretched from India to Macedonia.

1600

Black Is The New Green

It was the difficulties of export that gave rise to the black tea that is more commonly enjoyed in Europe and the West.

The delicate green teas tended to deteriorate on the long journeys across the ocean, so the Chinese learned to process the leaves by drying them until they were more robust – and the black tea that resulted was eagerly adopted across the West.

1600
1600
1600

Going Dutch

It was the Dutch who first brought tea to Europe and then to England by the 17th Century. Samuel Pepys mentioned it in his diary in September 1660, noting that he had never drunk it before.

1800

The Indian Influence

In the early 19th century, tea buyers began to search for a new source of tea, as relations with China were deteriorating.

Fortunately, a new variety of tea bush was found to be growing in northern India, and a small number of tea plantations were established there by the British East India Company.

1800
1800
1800

The Clipper

The 19th century also brought with it the emergence of new faster clipper ships – a quicker way to import tea.

Exports of tea from China had been taking at least a year to reach England, but in 1845, the Americans unveiled the clipper ship, a sleek vessel that could sail to China in eight months.

2000

Tea Hits The Big Time

Today, tea is the most popular drink in the world - with more cups being consumed than coffee, hot chocolate, soft drinks, and alcohol put together.

The British have become synonymous with their love of tea and drink 165 million cups a day. That is 2.6 cups of tea for every man, woman and child.

2000