The origin of tea was somewhere in around latitude 29°N and longitude 98°E, this is the intersection of the lands of northeast India, southwest China, Tibet & north Burma. The Tea plant was introduced to more than 52 countries, from the confluence of these regions. As per The Story of Tea, the act of drinking tea likely began in the Yunnan region during the Shang Dynasty (1500 BC–1046 BC), as a medicinal drink. From there, the medicinal drink spread to Sichuan and it’s believed that’s where people began to boil tea leaves & use them as a recreational drink. Tea started being used as a bitter yet revitalizing drink, rather than as a medicinal concoction. Scholars believe that tea drinking likely originated in the southwest of China and the Chinese words for tea probably were derived from the Austro-Asiatic languages of the original inhabitants of the region.
It’s now known that tea consumption in its current form was made popular in India by the British, but it is often preceded by a misconception that the origin of tea was in China & was brought into India via the silk route.
It is true that the British did bring & cultivate a variety of tea seeds from China. However, they did not yield successful results. In the early 1800s, a British botanist Robert Bruce discovered the native tea plants that we described in the above paragraph, growing in the upper Brahmaputra Valley.
This was ‘Camellia Sinesis Var Assamica’, the tea plant native to the lands of northeast India, southwest China, Tibet & north Burma. This plant was found to be much more suitable to grow than the Chinese strain of the plant. Soon, the native Indian tea plant flourished & by 1823, the British began exporting the Indian Tea for public sale. As it spread, it took over the hearts of the people all over the world & helped flourish the tea market in India.
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