Did you know that people consume more tea than any other drink, apart from water? Tea might not contain much caffeine, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming highly addictive.
One Lump or Two? They have been drinking tea in the UK for 350 years, but its history is much longer than that. According to legend, nearly 5,000 years ago a servant was boiling water for the Chinese emperor when some leaves from a nearby tea tree blew into the cup. The emperor tried the drink and invented tea. This story might seem a bit unlikely, but tea was definitely invented in China and was definitely being drunk by around 2,000 years ago (we know this because tea containers have been found from this time).
Chinese tea-drinking became really popular from the 600s. In the 700s a whole book was written about tea, by a Chinese writer called Lu Yu.
Tea-drinking quickly spread to Japan, but didn’t arrive in Europe until about 1600, when the Dutch became the first to import tea from Java.
By 1658 tea was being sold in Britain. It was an expensive, exotic drink in those days, and a government tax on tea kept the price high.
In 1784 the tea tax was lowered and most people could afford a cuppa.
A tea merchant called Thomas Sullivan invented the tea bag around 1908. First they were made from silk, later from gauze and finally from paper. Now people could make tea the lazy way.
Liber-tea! In the 1700s the British taxed tea imported to the USA. In 1773 protesting Americans raided ships and threw imported tea into the sea in what became known as the Boston Tea Party, which sparked the American Revolution.
There are over 3,000 different types of tea, so rather than sticking to your usual cuppa, why not try some other varieties and see if they’re better than your usual drink.