Tea 101 : Loose Leaf's Rich History
Tea is a relic, rich in history.
Tea's origin is a story rich in Chinese philosophy; a symbiosis of myth and fact. According to Chinese legend, an Emperor was boiling tea in a garden, when a leaf from the Camellia Sinensis plant floated into his water. The experience of drinking the tea drove this scientific Emperor to research the plant, who then learned of its medicinal properties. Comedically, the first cup of tea was found solely by serendipitous accident.
Although it is difficult to pinpoint when exactly tea came about, we know it was a long, long time ago. It is most likely the tea plant originated in Southwest China, and was traded in various regions throughout the continent. The Yunnan Province was claimed to have been the birthplace of tea, either by chewing the leaves or brewing it, resulting in a pleasant experience. It was primarily used for medicinal purposes before it became a popular social event, which in its later lifetime was only experienced by the affluent.
In the simplest of terms, tea has been a popular drink for thousands of years in Southeast Asia. One of the first written references to tea in history is a treatise on tea written by the poet Lu Yu in 780 AD. It not only describes the different varieties of tea but also includes sections on how to prepare tea and the pleasures of drinking tea, where tea was in fact considered a luxury. The calming and medicinal qualities of tea have been appreciated for centuries!
One of my favorite aspects of drinking tea is the sweet, serendipitous experience of sipping on a hot (or cold) brew. Through all of tea's journey, from creation to migration, its origins are a constant reminder that happy accidents hold power in our daily existence. We have history to thank for a brew so beneficial to the body and cleansing to the mind, while also enhancing and enriching our daily experiences!