The History of Tea

The History of Tea

Length: 1583 words (4.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Tea Time
Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea.
~Author Unknown

When you think of drinking a hot cup of tea, you can’t help but feel rather British. Although tea did not originate in Britain, it certainly found a home there. At a time when the world was speeding up, the shuffle of the Industrial Revolution was embraced by some, avoided by others, and left some scrambling to find their place. Tom Standage’s A History of the World in Six Glasses, cleverly explains tea’s journey across the world and back and its lasting impact on all. As the Lipton tea company so perfectly claims, “Tea can do that”.
Tea’s roots in China stem from the Himalayan jungles on the border of India and China. The Buddhist monks of this region found the tea bush to have “invigorating and healing effects”(177) and it was helpful with meditation, concentration and fatigue. When they began migrating to China in the 6th century BCE, they brought tea with them (178). The Chinese claim that the first cup of tea was brewed around 2737-2697 by Emperor Shen Nung (177).
Tea would not become a domestic drink in society until the 1st century BC and cultivation for mass quantities didn’t occur until the 4th century. During this period, known as the Tang Dynasty, China found itself the wealthiest and most populated nation in the world, in part due to their openness to outside influence. It was also during this time that tea found itself as the drink of choice by the nation (179).
There were many reasons why tea was such a preferred choice. It was safer to drink then water of this time, which was filled with bacteria. These bacteria caused Cholera, Typhoid, and Dystery. The Chinese found by drinking tea they could greatly avoid their risk to such illnesses. In addition, tea greatly reduced infant mortality since the health properties of tea could be passed on to newborns with breast-milk (179). The health benefits of tea certainly gave it a popularity boost while increasing longevity.
Tea also had a major economic impact in China. At the turn of the 7th century, the tea trade in China was growing. Tea was even used as a currency at this time (180). The first tax on tea came in 780.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The History of Tea." 28 Feb 2020

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Long History of Tea Essays

- ... Chronic diseases includes cardiovascular disease(CVD), metabolic syndrome, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease and also arthritis(Haggi & Balentina, 1999). Polyphenols are well studied in terms of antioxidant in tea, it is abundant in the form of catechins. Which also exist as epigallocatechin(EGC), epigallocathechin-3-gallate(EGCG), and epicatechin-3-gallate(ECG). (Graham, 1992). EGCG found most compared to others, and it is de-oxidizing molecule which makes it effective in inhibiting DNA damage and tumour growth with antioxidant function(Anderson, Fisher, Hara, Harris, & Mak, 2001)....   [tags: most consumed beverage, green, black tea]

Research Papers
922 words (2.6 pages)

The History of the Tea Trade in China Essay

- It is impossible to explore the culture of the East, of China especially, without encountering the importance of tea. China has a long tradition of tea drinking, and was responsible for acquainting the East and the West. Tea gained popularity throughout the Western world, particularly in Britain, and demand for it increased, China entered a challenging period in their history. Exploring this story shows tea as a social, economic, and political commodity, the catalyst for this conflict and change....   [tags: opium war, tradition, culture]

Research Papers
1631 words (4.7 pages)

The Boston Tea Party Essay

- The Boston Tea Party Boston, Massachusetts is known as “the cradle of liberty.” (Stein, R. Conrad. The Boston Tea Party. New York: Children’s, 1996. N. pag. Print (pg. 28) (10-30-13)) The Boston Tea Party occurred on December 16, 1773 as a protest of the American colonists against the British government. Both the British and the colonists loved tea and it brought a substantial amount of money to the East India Trading Company. Due to the heavy debt incurred by the French and Indian War, the British government imposed new taxes upon the colonies....   [tags: The Tea Act, American history]

Research Papers
603 words (1.7 pages)

History of Tea in Japan and the Japanese Tea Ceremony Essay examples

- According to Brown, tea is classified among the most significant non-alcoholic beverage across the globe. It has gained fame as a result of its benefits. Tea is an inclusive aspect of the daily life of the Japanese individual attributable to its ceremonial and ritual characteristics. It has been treated as a cultural beverage and consumed in a refined atmosphere. Tea drinking in Japan has undergone refinement under the support of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa. He was the regarded as the first ruler-patron of the tea ceremony....   [tags: Zen Buddhists, Tranquility]

Research Papers
3466 words (9.9 pages)

Caffeine the Most Popular Drug in The World Essay

- Coffee and tea have been around for many centuries. Coffee was discovered in the land of Abyssinia or also known as Ethiopia (Pendergrast, 2001). It became one of the many sources to create ideas, a common drink for work or school, and created problems. It is common to buy coffee now from Starbucks, Philz Coffee, or brewing it ourselves. Coffee is use to start out our day and keep us awake. Since discovering coffee, Americans consume it everyday. On the other hand, not only is coffee very popular drink but so is drinking Tea....   [tags: coffee, tea, history]

Research Papers
1063 words (3 pages)

Boston Tea Party Essay

- Boston Tea Party When the Boston Tea Party occurred on the evening of December 16,1773, it was the culmination of many years of bad feeling between the British government and her American colonies. The controversy between the two always seemed to hinge on the taxes, which Great Britain required for the upkeep of the American colonies. Starting in 1765, the Stamp Act was intended by Parliament to provide the funds necessary to keep peace between the American settlers and the Native American population....   [tags: American History Boston Tea Party Essays]

Research Papers
1412 words (4 pages)

American History Essays Boston Tea Party

- Boston Tea Party: A Fight for Freedom Imagine you are a merchant in Boston selling imported goods from England with a high tax on them, when three ships come in with 342 chests of tea without planning to pay the middleman tax. That's how it was for many merchants in Boston. The East India Tea Company went bankrupt due to the dropping rate of tea sales in America because of the increasing rate of smuggling. The government's lack of support, and the newly passed Tea Act, only kindled more resentment towards the British from the colonists....   [tags: American America History]

Research Papers
1151 words (3.3 pages)

Time For Tea: The Boston Tea Party Essay

- People have short tempers which can cause a fight. However, most huge brawls consist of a build-up of small events that causes one to explode. The Boston Tea Party is one of the most important build-ups to the fight of the American Revolutionary War. Feuds between the American colonists and the British have been heating up and the Americans have officially gotten fed up. Therefore, to have a voice, they dumped tea into the Boston harbor. The Boston Tea Party is a serious protest that impacts the American Revolution....   [tags: American history]

Research Papers
822 words (2.3 pages)

Japan 's Drinking Tea Habit Essay

- I was very glad to see those comments, because it was my ultimate aim that let it be known that about the Japanese ceremony. Draw a comparison between Japan’s drinking tea habit and New Zealand’s drinking tea habit ・ Japan THE JAPAN’S HISTORY OF TEA In the 15th century, tea became such a revered beverage that a whole culture developed around it, culminating in the tea ceremony. The drinking of tea became highly structured recreation centered on such aesthetic and philosophical concepts as wabi (austere beauty) and sabi (tranquility)....   [tags: Tea, Tea culture, Black tea]

Research Papers
1163 words (3.3 pages)

A Time for Tea Essay

- On December 16, 1773, the scale of tolerance tipped to the lowest level possible in the Colonies. Because of Great Britain’s involvement in the French and Indian War, Great Britain accumulated a large amount of debt owed to the East-India Company. As an attempt to reduce its debt, Great Britain imposed many acts of taxation on the Colonies. Great Britain viewed the Colonies key to repay its debt. One of the significant acts imposed by Great Britain was the Townshend Acts. This particular act placed taxes on imported materials such as glass, lead, paint, and most importantly, tea....   [tags: U.S. History ]

Research Papers
1578 words (4.5 pages)

It was during this time that authors, such as Lu Yu, were inspired to write books on the importance of tea in society. His book “Classic of Tea”, explained the cultivation, preparation, and serving of this hot beverage (180-181).
The social impact of tea was enormous in China. Tea tasting and the ability to distinguish between different teas was considered in high regard. In fact, it was considered quite the disgrace if you could not properly make and serve tea. Special “tribute teas” were served to the emperor annually (182). The preparation and consumption practices and etiquette of tea became even more elaborate as China moved into the 14th century. “Tea came to be seen as a form of spiritual as well as bodily refreshment” (183) to the people of China.
This prosperous tea drinking society had a distinct advantage to their western neighbors when they arrived in the 16th century. They had superb weapons and very modern inventions, such as the magnetic compass (184-185). This arrival by Europeans, marked the beginning of an onset of imperialism by rivalries from Europe, Russia, and the United States. This would cause China to take a xenophobic view on outsiders and resistance to foreign trade. “Rampant corruption, withering economy, soaring opium consumption caused a once mighty civilization to crumble” (212).
Britain reached China by sea in the 16th century. Tea was first considered a novelty when it arrived in Europe (185). Although it arrived before coffee, its popularity was slower growing thanks to the unstable supply and resulting high prices (186). Just as in China, tea started out as a medicinal drink in Britain. Dutch doctor Cornelius Bontekoe voiced: “We recommend tea to the entire nation, and to all peoples! We urge every man, every woman, to drink it every day, if possible, every hour” (186-187).
At the beginning of the 18th century teas was costly and hardly anyone in Britain could afford to drink it. It had to be imported from China and was very expensive. People began using a process of adulteration of tea to increase their supply without draining their pocketbooks. Adulteration is the process of cutting the tea leaves with another substance such as sawdust, flowers, or ash “so that the amount consumed was far greater than the amount imported (188).
When the Dutch East India Company dissolved in 1795, the playing field was busted wide open for the British East India Company to gain full control over foreign sea trade. The British East India Company were very powerful and they soon exerted their new superiority by establishing trading posts in China (192). This allowed Britain to directly import tea and other goods from China and allowed prices to drop. The British East India Company enacted many laws in their favor, including bans on adulteration and imports from neighboring European countries (192).
Tea had similar social impacts in Britain as it had in China. Tea Gardens and Tea Parties were elegant and a great place to socialize, especially for women who were not allowed to enter coffeehouses during the 18th century (193). A proper tea service in Britain was not complete without fine porcelain and even finer conversation.
By the end of the 18th century, tea was affordable enough to be consumed by all, even the poor. They sought out tea as a warm illusion of a hot meal (196). It moved up through the working class, fueled by the Industrial Revolution. Factory workers were issued tea breaks and helped to subdue hunger pangs on long shifts. “Factory workers had to function like parts in a well-oiled machine, and tea was the lubricant that kept the factories running smoothly” (200). The caffeine helped to keep the mind sharp with the tedious work that specialization methods required at factories (202).
The British East India Company had strong political power and they used this to protect their monopolies on trade in both China and the America. In 1773 they enacted the Tea Act, which gave Britain the right to ship tea directly from China to the America. In addition, it gave them exclusive right to all sales on tea in America (204). The colonies of America were no longer under British rule and they were not happy about the monopoly on trade that Britain was exerting. They boycotted British goods and refused to pay taxes as a matter of patriotic principle (204). They perhaps showed this best with the Boston Tea Party and other forms of opposition to coercive acts by Britain in the wake of the Revolutionary War (206).
In China, the British East India Company was having trouble in China as well. China’s refusal to trade tea for British goods had become a problem for them. It led them to turn to more illegal forms of trade in the form of opium (208). Both Chinese and British merchants went to great lengths to keep the illegal smuggling of opium under-wraps but it did not go unnoticed. As the import of opium into China increased, leaders sought out to ban opium trade and destroy stashes. They carried out these plans and burned both Chinese and British stocks of opium (210). This enraged Europeans who felt that the Chinese had no right to seize and destroy their property and led to the European declaration of the Opium Wars of 1839-42. It was a one-sided fight with the European superiority of weapons. They forced China to sign a peace treaty and open the ban on opium trade (211-212).
Britain was rightfully concerned about their reliance on China for tea and they began searching for a suitable place to cultivate their own supply. They found India to have the appropriate climate for growing tea (215). If Britain was successful not only would they gain a more reliable supply of tea, but they would also be providing many new jobs to Indian workers (213) and providing a new enterprise that would be hugely profitable to both the British and Indian economies (234).
The British East India Company used imperialistic methods to control the ever-growing tea industry in India. They allowed local entrepreneurs to set up tea plantations on rented land. The East India Company would profit off rental fees and taxes (217). It was a slow-going process of trial and error to adequately establish tea plantations in India. It was the Industrial Revolution that helped the plantations in India take off as machines cut production costs dramatically (218). In a matter of years, Britain tea demand shifted from China to India, which in turn had devastating effects on China’s economy (219).
Tea had reach and power in China, Britain, and India that was both innovated and destructive. It started as the drink of leaders and later served to be simply the drink of man in these nations. It came to the aid of workers during the changing times of the Industrial Revolution. It caused dispute between governments, institutions, and peoples who disagreed with a fair duty to be placed on tea. It took new roots in nations like India, giving them new economic life and reminding them of the imperialistic control they are under by Britain. Tea has certainly been involved in a fair share of conflicts over the 17th and 18th centuries but still continues to warm the hearts and souls of its drinkers.
Return to