Contrary to popular belief, loose leaf tea doesn’t magically appear on your shelf!
Have you ever wondered where your loose-leaf tea actually originates from? How are tea leaves cultivated? Where are they exported from? What is the history of tea in the world? This is actually a fascinating subject and the history of tea spans far back into ancient history.
Tea is actually grown on a plant known as the Camellia Sinensis – Two main varieties of this plant called Sinensis and assamica are responsible for producing the different strains of white, yellow and green tea leaves. This tea plant that is used to cultivate tea leaves originates from Asia and is native to this continent. Through extensive analysis by botanists, the widely accepted physical location for the birth of the tea plant are the provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan in China. In fact, the Fengqing County in Yunnan is reported to contain the oldest species of tea tree which has grown for over 3000 years.
A precise date is unknown of when tea leaves were first eaten or used to create a pleasant drink however records state that the practice was undertaken during the Shang Dynasty around 15000 BC. From this point, the use of the leaf spread and was adopted by many more communities and towns across China. The use of loose leaf remained popular and different varieties were grown and cultivated. Eventually, through exploration and trade, tea was brought to the western world and became an immediate success. Naval merchants such as the East India Company traded tea widely and brought it back to Europe.
We can now enjoy loose leaf tea as a fragrant and flavorsome drink due to the knowledge and traditions that have persisted from these historical periods. The plant is still widely cultivated and loose leaf tea as a drink remains one of the most popular beverages worldwide.