Tea Through the Ages


Photo Credit: Martin Moscosa

Experts have identified the Yunnan province of China as the birthplace of tea, and the earliest record of it describes the drink as a medicinal concoction used in the 3rd century during the Shang dynasty. From China, tea-drinking was spread to Vietnam, Korea and Japan.

In the 1500s, traders and Portuguese priests in China came to love the drink, and by the 17th century, the drink gained a following in Britain. To create a source of this drink other than China, the British brought tea to India where it was planted. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Drink that Launched a Thousand Ships

Everyone has heard the expressions, “Not for all the tea in China!”, “Not my cup of tea!”, and “tempest in a teapot”.  However, beyond spawning idiomatic expressions and figures of speech, tea was a central figure in many events throughout history. Among the first of these events were the First Opium War (1839–1842) and the Second Opium War (1856 -1860).   [Read more…]

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Traditional Yak Tea (Butter Tea) and Today’s Teapot

Traditional Yak tea or butter teaYak tea or butter tea is a time-honored drink in the Himalayas, particularly in Tibet. Called po cha, this tea is also well-loved in the hinterlands of Bhutan, Nepal, India, and China. These areas are home to the yak, the hairy bovid that provides yak butter. Yak butter is the distinguishing ingredient of this highland tea.

Yak Tea and its Customs

Though not as formal or as ritualized as the Japanese tea ceremony, there is a prescribed etiquette to be followed when yak butter tea is drunk in the Himalayas. The tea is always offered to guests; it would be a serious breach of good manners not to do so. Tibetans drink a lot of it during the day, so households keep an available supply. At any given time. [Read more…]

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