top of page




The history of tea

The history of tea began about 5000 years ago. Today it is the most consumed drink in the world after water.
Here's a quick rundown of everything from the history of tea to the modern day tea bag.

The legend - how tea began

According to a Chinese legend, it all began on a spring evening in 2737 BC. That evening, after a long journey, the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung, "the son of heaven", was boiling water under a tree when a light wind blew a few leaves into the water. The water turned light green and a pleasant scent rose from the steaming kettle. The emperor liked the drink, found it delicious and felt refreshed and invigorated by this strange mixture. The tree was a wild tea tree, and that's how tea was discovered.

Another legend is told in India: Prince Dharma, the third son of King Kozjuvo, decided to travel to China to preach the Buddha's teachings. To be worthy of his mission, he vowed not to sleep for nine years. By the end of the third year, however, he was slightly tired and he would probably have been overwhelmed with sleep had he not accidentally plucked a few tea leaves from a wild tea bush and put them in his mouth and chewed them. The Dharma tiredness was gone, and the tea leaves gave him the strength to stay awake for the remaining six years of his mission.

Tea facts

350 AD

Tea was first mentioned as "Tu" in the Kuo Po dictionary and described simply as "a drink made from boiled leaves".


476 AD

The nomads from Central Asia were the first to sell tea along the Great Wall.


780 AD

LuYu, the adopted son of Buddhist monks, wrote his first study of tea, simply titled "The Classical Book of Tea" (Cha Ching). The book is divided into 10 chapters and deals with topics such as the origin and cultivation of the tea plant, cultivation areas, tea production, methods and utensils for tea preparation.


A.D. 620 - 1279

During the Tang Dynasty (620-907 AD), tea experienced its golden age. The art of tea preparation and production was refined and perfected during this time. In the following Sung dynasty (960-1279 AD), the tradition of flowery teas developed in new provinces.



The tea lost its popularity during the Mughal Empire (1279-1368) but flourished again during the Ming Dynasty when fermentation was discovered. This enabled the creation of new teas such as oolong and black tea.



The first teapot was made in Yi-Xing.



the Dutch East India Company was founded and brought the first green tea from Japan and black tea from China to Holland by ship via Java. Since the journey from China or Japan to England took at least 6 months to a year, the quality of the tea suffered considerably from the humid sea air and the storage of the tea by ship.



Wassily Storkov first brought tea to Russia by land as a gift for the Tsar. As the Russian envoy, he sent 200 boxes of tea from China to Russia via a caravan trade route.



The Dutch delivered the first 100 pounds of tea to England.



The Englishman Thomas Garrington started serving tea in his "coffee shop" in London. Originally reserved for the nobility, tea was soon highly valued by the aesthetes who frequented the "coffee houses", and the latter were then renamed "tea houses".



the first advertisement for tea brochures appeared in England, according to which tea should keep the body and mind healthy into old age.



Thomas Twining opened the first tea room in London.


In 1773 the British also brought tea to the "New World", where it soon became the third most popular product. This fact led the British government to levy heavy taxes on tea in the colonies and sparked protests across the country. On December 16, 1773, members of the Saint Andrew Masonic Lodge in Boston, disguised as Mohicans, boarded the East India Company ships and threw 342 cases of tea overboard. This act, known as the Boston Tea Party, is considered the prelude to the American Revolutionary War.


In the middle of the 17th century, tea came to East Frisia via Holland, where its own tea culture developed.



The Prussian King Friedrich II tried to ban tea consumption in Germany and was unsuccessful.



Chinese immigrants brought various tea plants from Fujian Province to Formosa (Taiwan).



Robert Fortun was sent to China by the East Indian Company to procure tea plants and break the Chinese monopoly. Over a period of 3 years, Robert Fortune shipped over 20,000 tea cuttings and seedlings to India. He even persuaded several Chinese tea farmers to go to India with him to build tea plantations and make tea. He was the first European to discover during his trip that green tea and black tea were made from the same plant.



tea was grown on Ceylon (Sri Lanka). A young Scot James Taylor experimented with tea seeds in the Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka. The 10 hectare Loolecondera plantation, where Taylor first cultivated commercially, became the model for the future development of Sri Lanka's tea industry.



The large breed of tea clipper, known for its narrow course, began in China on May 29, 1866. Of the nine ships that sailed from Foochow to London and had the new tea harvest on board, the first five reached their destination with less than three days difference after a distance of more than 16,000 miles, which ran through all wind systems on earth. They were Clipper Ariel, Taeping, Serica, Fiery Cross and Taitsing. After only 99 days, the Ariel and the Taeping were sailing almost side by side into the English Channel. With a lead of just 20 minutes ahead of the Ariel, the Taepingers won the race. (Taeping, year 1863, English tea scissors were missing on a trip to China in 1872.

bottom of page