Where Did Tea Originate?
History of tea in India
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The cultivation and brewing of tea in India has a long history of applications in traditional systems of medicine and for consumption. The consumption of tea in India was first clearly documented in the Ramayana (750-500 BC). Research shows that tea is indigenous to eastern and northern India, and was cultivated and consumed there for thousands of years. However, commercial production of tea in India did not begin until the arrival of the British East India Company, at which point large tracts of land were converted for mass tea production.
Ancient India and the Ramayana
Tea cultivation in India has somewhat ambiguous origins. Though the extent of the popularity of tea in Ancient India is unknown, it is known that the tea plant was a wild plant in India that was indeed brewed by local inhabitants of different regions.
The first recorded reference to tea in India was in the ancient epic of the Ramayana, when Hanuman was sent to the Himalayas to bring the Sanjeevani tea plant for medicinal use.
The Singpho tribe and the Khamti tribe also validate that they have been consuming tea since the 12th century. [Unlike most hill-people, shifting cultivation (Jhum) is not as widely practised, although tea is widely planted. The Singpho produce their tea by plucking the tender leaves and drying them in the sun and exposing to the night dew for three days and nights. The leaves are then placed in the hollow tube of a bamboo, and the cylinder will be exposed to the smoke of the fire. In this way, their tea can be kept for years without losing its flavour.] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singpho
The East Asian legends of Bodhidharma & Gan Lu
Japanese legends ascribe the origin of tea in China to the Indian monk Bodhidharma (ca. 460-534), a monk born near Madras, India, and the founder of the Ch’an (or Zen) sect of Buddhism.
Chinese legends credit a monk called Gan Lu, whose family name was Wu-Li-chien, with traveling to India during the Later Han dynasty, A.D. 25-221, to pursue Buddhist studies. Gan Lee is said to have taken seven tea plants home to China from India, which he planted on Meng Mountain in Szechwan. This story was later supported in an allegory on tea in the Ch`a P`u published long afterward, through which tea was first brought to imperial attention. [Gan Lu, which means “Sweet Dew”, is a very famous tea in China. Legend has it that the Gan Lu tea plant was first cultivated by the legendary Buddhist monk, Wu Li Zhen. After he achieved Nirvana, the locals around Meng Mountains nicknamed this tea “Xian Cha”, which means Tea of the Immortal. Only the leaves picked in the misty peak areas of Mount Meng can be considered as true Meng Ding Gan Lu. ] http://www.teaspring.com/Meng-Ding-Gan-Lu.asp
Origin and history
According to Mondal (2007, p. 519): “Camellia sinensis originated in southeast Asia, specifically around the intersection of latitude 29°N and longitude 98°E, the point of confluence of the lands of northeast India, north Burma, southwest China and Tibet. The plant was introduced to more than 52 countries, from this ‘centre of origin’.”
Based on morphological differences between the Assamese and Chinese varieties, botanists have long asserted a dual botanical origin for tea; however, statistical cluster analysis, the same chromosome number (2n=30), easy hybridization, and various types of intermediate hybrids and spontaneous polyploids all appear to demonstrate a single place of origin for Camellia sinensis — the area including the northern part of Burma, and Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of China.25 According to this theory, tea plants in southeast Asia may have been the products of the 19th Century and 20th Century hybridizing experiments. [The word “tea” was derived from ancient Chinese dialects. Such words as “Tchai,” “"Cha,” and “Tay” were used to describe the tea leaf as well as the beverage. The tea plant’s scientific name is Camellia sinensis (which is from the The aceae family of the Theales order), and it is indigenous to China and parts of India. The tea plant is an evergreen shrub that develops fragrant white, five-petaled flowers, and; it is related to the magnolia. Tea is made from young leaves and leaf buds from the tea tree. Two main varieties are cultivated: C. sinensis sinensis, a Chinese plant with small leaves, and C. sinensis assamica, an Indian plant with large leaves. Hybrids of these two varieties are also cultivated] http://www.chcp.org/tea.html
Yunnan Province has also been identified as “the birthplace of tea…the first area where humans figured out that eating tea leaves or brewing a cup could be pleasant.”26 Fengqing County in the Lincang City Prefecture of Yunnan Province in China is said to be home to the world’s oldest cultivated tea tree, some 3,200 years old.27 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea
The Chinese have consumed tea for thousands of years. People of the Han Dynasty used tea as medicine (though the first use of tea as a stimulant is unknown). China is considered to have the earliest records of tea consumption,133 with records dating back to the 10th century BC.1
Laozi (ca. 600-517 BC), the classical Chinese philosopher, described tea as “the froth of the liquid jade” and named it an indispensable ingredient to the elixir of life. Legend has it that master Lao was saddened by society’s moral decay and, sensing that the end of the dynasty was near, he journeyed westward to the unsettled territories, never to be seen again. While passing along the nation’s border, he encountered and was offered tea by a customs inspector named Yin Hsi. Yin Hsi encouraged him to compile his teachings into a single book so that future generations might benefit from his wisdom. This then became known as the Dao De Jing, a collection of Laozi’s sayings.
In 59 BC, Wang Bao wrote the first known book with instructions on buying and preparing tea. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea
Tea, common name for a family of mostly woody flowering plants, and for one of its important genera. The family, which contains about 600 species placed in 28 genera, is distributed through tropical and subtropical areas, but most species occur in eastern Asia and South America.
The tea plant itself is a native of Southeast Asia. The tea brewed from the dried leaves of this plant has been drunk in China since perhaps the 28th century bc and certainly since the 10th century bc, from which time written records of its use survive. It was first brought to Europe by the Dutch in the early 17th century ad. After the introduction of tea there in 1657, England became the only European country of tea drinkers rather than coffee drinkers. Tea was introduced into North America by early settlers but was heavily taxed by the British, eventually resulting in the well-known Boston Tea Party of 1773, and it has never competed successfully with coffee as the staple beverage. Tea is drunk by about half of the world’s population; China, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Japan are the main producers.