Graceful history of tea

It is difficult to find a corner of the Earth where you would not like tea. This drink ranks second after water.

The homeland of tea is Southwestern China and the adjacent areas of Upper Burma and North Vietnam.

It is interesting that the word "tea" itself came to us through the Turkic languages ​​from the North Chinese cha, while the source of the name in Western Europe was the South Chinese te. How this happened is as difficult to trace as it is to establish the exact time of the appearance of the drink in different regions.

The first mention of tea dates back to ancient times. The legends of China, India and Japan tell how wild tea was discovered. According to one of them, tea originated during the creation of the Earth and Heaven, it is associated with the name of the Sovereign of the Sun Yan-di. According to another, the emperor of South China Chen Nung (III millennium BC) once tried a drink that accidentally came out of leaves that accidentally got into boiling water. The drink turned out to be so aromatic and tasty that the emperor ordered to collect and preserve these leaves and issued a decree on its use throughout the country.

Historical monuments confirm that tea was already known in China during the Three Kingdoms (220-280). Its cultivation as a culture dates back to 350.

Hindus believe that the tea bush was accidentally discovered by Prince Badhidharma while traveling in southern China.

According to a Japanese legend, a tea bush grew on the spot where Prince Daruma's eyelids fell, which he cut off so as not to fall asleep during meditation. From this bush, Daruma's followers gathered leaves and prepared an invigorating drink.

For a long time it was believed that the bushes are the only species of this plant.

In 1763, a Swedish navigator brought a living tea bush from China to the famous naturalist Karl Linnaeus. The scientist, being sure of the uniqueness of this plant, assigned it the name thea sineusis - "Chinese tea" in his classification. It was only in the 19th century that tea trees were discovered in the Indian province of Assam, Burma and Laos. Botanists had to admit that tea has another type, which was given the name thea assamica - "Assamese tea". The further north you go, the smaller the tea bushes, and closer to the equator, these are already large trees.

The superiority and superiority of wild Chinese bush tea in comparison with all known varieties of it was also proved by biochemical analysis by the Soviet chemist K.M. Dzhemukaze.

Chinese philosophers said that tea is better than wine, because, by strengthening and invigorating, it does not cause intoxication, and is better than water, since it is not a carrier of infection.

At first, tea was used by rulers and clergymen as a healing drink that relieves fatigue, strengthens strength and vision, or as part of ointments, for example, for rheumatism. Tea was used as a drink in his homeland in the 5th century. Tea was valued very highly - the emperors gave it to their dignitaries as a sign of encouragement. In the 6th century, it is a favorite drink of the nobility. But by the 10th century, tea had already become a national drink in China and, accordingly, an article of trade.

Tea was brought to Europe in the 16th - 18th centuries by the Portuguese and Dutch. Having taken root in the Netherlands, drinking this drink developed into an afternoon tea tradition and spread across the Atlantic to New Amsterdam.

In 1664, the merchants of the East India English Company donated two pounds of tea to the king. The gift was accepted, the drink was appreciated, and the triumphal procession of tea began, first as a luxury item available to the rich and the nobility, and much later - as a traditional drink of the general public. It became available to the townspeople only from the end of the 18th century, after a reduction in the tax on tea, but for the majority it was still too expensive. Tea was drunk in cafes (the first of which belonged to Thomas Twinning, a weaver by trade), where, in the absence of a change, tea coupons could be obtained as change, which were accepted by shops as a common means of payment.

In 1793, Lord Macartney brought tea seeds from China and donated them to the Calcutta Botanical Garden for study and cultivation.

India, then a colony of the British Empire, actively developed tea production. In 1860, about 2 thousand tons were already sold. Now the question arose about the rate of transportation.

Tea clippers - fast sailing ships with valuable cargo - rushed across the endless sea. Tea races have become traditional, promising a prize to the winner. There is a known case when three clippers - "Ariel", "Taiping" and "Serika" - simultaneously covered the entire distance of 25,744 km and entered the harbor side by side.

In Java, Sumatra, Vietnam, tea began to be bred in the first half of the 19th century, in the second half - in Africa and South America, at the beginning of the 20th century - in Northern Italy and Southern Switzerland. At present, tea cultivation has also been mastered in Australia.
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