History of Tea Backgrounder

Tea was discovered in China almost five thousand years ago. According to legend, Chinese Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea in 2737 BC when a tea leaf accidentally fell into the bowl of hot water he was drinking.

In China, tea containers were found in tombs from the Han dynasty (206 BC to AD 220) and tea was firmly established as the national drink of China by the time of the Tang dynasty (AD 618-906).

In the late eighth century, tea was introduced to Japan by Buddhist monks who travelled to China to study.

Tea first appeared in Europe in the 16th century, introduced by Portuguese who had lived in the Far East as traders and missionaries. The Dutch were the first to ship tea to Europe as a commercial import in the late 16th century.

In Britain, the Portuguese wife of Charles II helped establish tea as a fashionable drink in the mid 17th century. Within a few years of its introduction, the East India Company was importing tea into Britain and a national passion had begun.

The first tea shipment to arrive in Canada was imported by the Hudson Bay Company in 1716 and it took more than a year to arrive.

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