For you budding historians, here is a little background on tea!
Legend has it that the Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea in 2737 B.C. whist boiling water in the shade of a tree. A light breeze caused a few leaves to fall into his boiled water, producing a delicate liquor and perfume. The legend says that when the Emperor tasted it he found it to be delicious. The tree was a wild tea plant.
In China, tea was consumed largely for medicinal purposes until the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). In this time tea became more popular and became the source of artistic inspiration. LuYu (723-804 AD) was the first to write about tea in the Traditions of Tea, following this methods of preparation were standardized.
The Portuguese were the first European nation to encounter tea in China. In 1606 the first tea chest arrived in Lisbon. From there it was shipped to France and then the Netherlands. England was the last country to join the tea revolution in 1652-1654. Tea spread in popularity in England due to Catherine de Breganza, the wife of King Charles II. She was from Portugal.
In 1650, tea was introduced to America by English and Dutch settlers. After England fought the French Indian War, the English Government decided to place tax on goods being sent to the Colonies. In 1773, the ‘Sons of Liberty’ in Boston protested this tax, by destroying the entire supply of tea which had been sent by the East India Company. They boarded the ship and threw the chests of tea into the harbour. This was the start of the Boston Tea Party.
In 1789, America entered the tea trade. Newer, faster Clipper ships out sailed the heavier, slower English ships. By 1843, everyone was using Clippers!
The first tea shipment to arrive in Canada was imported by the Hudson Bay Company in 1716 and took more than a year to arrive. Up until the late 1800’s tea was sold loose by local merchants. These merchants essentially sold tea right from the chests from which they were exported.