According to legend, tea was first discovered by the Chinese emperor Shennong in 2737 BC. It is said that the emperor liked his drinking water boiled before he drank it. One day, while the servant began boiling water for him, a dead leaf from a wild tea bush fell into the water. The servant didn’t notice it and presented the water to the emperor who tasted it and found it very refreshing. Tea came then into being.
China is considered to have the earliest records of tea drinking, with recorded tea use in its history dating back to the first millennium BC.
The Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) used tea as medicine.
The use of tea as a beverage drunk for pleasure on social occasions dates from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) or earlier. The custom of drinking tea widened its scope of influence at high speed and penetrated into nooks of people’s daily life. Whenever a guest or a casual visitor arrived, the offer of a cup of tea would show at least respect, if not friendship and affection. Therefore, for more than a thousand years, the serving of tea to a guest has been the universal etiquette in China.
Tea may be consumed early in the day to heighten calm alertness;
it contains L-theanine, theophyllin, and bound caffeine (sometimes called theine). Decaffeinated brands are also sold. While herbal teas are also referred to as tea, most of them do not contain leaves from the tea plan (cameillia Sinensis).
In different cultures, tea has become a popular way of dieting. It has been credited with helping to boost metabolism and aid people in losing weight.
For example, Feivan tea a Chinese herbal tea that includes green tea, lotus leaves, cansia seeds, and vegetable sponge is believed to promote weight loss by improving metabolism, reducing blood fat and cholesterol, reducing bloatedness, detoxing the body, and suppressing the appetite.
Other examples include herbal teas that contain dandelion or nettle, two herbs that have diuretic properties and are believed to eliminate excess water, hence reducing weight.
Black tea is the second most consumed beverage on Earth after water, in many cultures it is also consumed at elevated social events, such as afternoon tea and the tea party. Tea ceremonies have arisen in different cultures, such as the Chinese and Japanese tea ceremonies, each of which employs traditional techniques and ritualised protocol of brewing and serving tea for enjoyment in a refined setting. One form of Chinese tea ceremony is the Gongfu tea ceremony, which typically uses small Yixing clay teapots and oolong tea.
Ireland has, for a long time, been one of the biggest per-capita consumers of tea in the world. The national average is four cups per person per day, with many people drinking six cups or more. Tea in Ireland is usually taken with milk and/or sugar and is slightly spicier and stronger than the traditional English blend. The two main brands of tea sold in Ireland are Lyons and Barry’s. The Irish love of tea is perhaps best illustrated by the stereotypical housekeeper, Mrs Doyle in the popular sitcom Father Ted.
Tea is prevalent in most cultures in the Middle East. In Arab culture, tea is a focal point for social gatherings.
In Pakistan, tea is called chai (written as چائے). Both black and green teas are popular and are known locally as sabz chai and Kahwah, respectively. The popular green tea called kahwah is often served after every meal in the Pashtun belt of Balochistan and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which is where the Khyber Pass of the Silk Road is found.
In the transnational Kashmir region, which straddles the border between India and Pakistan, Kashmiri chai or noon chai, a pink, creamy tea with pistachios, almonds, cadamon, and sometimes cinnamon, is consumed primarily at special occasions, weddings, and during the winter months when it is sold in many kiosks.
In central and southern Punjab and the metropolitan Sindh region of Pakistan, tea with milk and sugar (sometimes with pistachios, cardamom, etc.), commonly referred to as chai, is widely consumed. It is the most common beverage of households in the region. In the northern Pakistani regions of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan, a salty, buttered Tibetan style tea is consumed. In Iranian culture, tea is so widely consumed, it is generally the first thing offered to a household guest.
In the United States, 80% of tea is consumed cold, as iced tea. Sweet tea is a cultural symbol of the southern US, and is common in that portion of the country.
Switzerland has its own unique blend of iced tea, made with the basic ingredients like black tea, sugar, lemon juice and mint, but a variety of Alp herbs are also added to the concoction. Apart from classic flavours like lemon and peach, exotic flavours like jasmine and lemongrass are also very popular.
In India, tea is one of the most popular hot beverages. It is consumed daily in almost all homes, offered to guests, consumed in high amounts in domestic and official surroundings, and is made with the addition of milk with or without spices. It is also served with biscuits dipped in the tea and eaten before consuming the tea. More often than not, it is drunk in “doses” of small cups (referred to as “Cutting” chai if sold at street tea vendors) rather than one large cup. On 21 April 2012, the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission (India), Montek Singh Abluwalia, said tea would be declared as national drink by April 2013. The move is expected to boost the tea industry in the country. Speaking on the occasion, Assam Chief Minister Tarum Gogoi said a special package for the tea industry would be announced in the future to ensure its development.
In the United Kingdom, it is consumed daily and often by a majority of people across the country, and indeed is perceived as one of Britain’s cultural beverages. In British homes, it is customary good manners for a host to offer tea to guests soon after their arrival. Tea is generally consumed at home; outside the home in cafés. Afternoon tea with cakes on fine porcelain is a cultural stereotype, sometimes available in quaint tea-houses. In southwest England, many cafes serve a ‘cream tea’, consisting of scones, clotted cream, and jam alongside a pot of tea. Throughout the UK, ‘tea’ may also refer to the evening meal.
In Burma (Myanmar), tea is consumed not only as hot drinks, but also as sweet tea and green tea known locally as laphet-yay and laphet-yay-gyan, respectively. Pickled tea leaves, known locally as laphet, are also a national delicacy. Pickled tea is usually eaten with roasted sesame seeds, crispy fried beans, roasted peanuts and fried garlic chips.