If you are a Bengali, you will know that tea is a necessity for Bengalis. It is true that the Bengali addiction to tea is somewhat a gift of colonialism and imperialism, but the history of tea dates back to the 4th century CE in Asia. By moving from myths to reality, from continent to continent, from ancient to modern, we will unravel the history of tea.
Legends and myths
According to Chinese mythology, the emperor Shen Nong was the ruler of the time. One day, while he was drinking a bowl of hot water, leaves blew from a nearby tree over the water. The leaves gave the drink a new colour and clarity . The emperor got excited over its delightful taste as the drink gave him the divine charm he had never felt. After that, the drink has been considered a holy drink.
This story is about the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma, who went to China in the 6th–7th centuries a.c.e. to preach Buddhism. He is the founder of Chan Buddhism. After feeling a little dizzy on his journey For 9 years, Bodhidharma felt asleep. This blunder made him angry enough to cut off his eyelids. He dropped them on the ground and the energy gave birth to tea bushes on the spot.
Moving from myths to reality,
Myths derive from reality. During the 4th century c.e., tea became a popular drink in China. Before that, tea was only used for medical purposes. Zen Buddhist monks used tea leaves to stay focused on medication. In the 4th century, they started to drink tea as a beverage for enjoyment and pleasure. In the 8th century c.e tea became a major commercial commodity in China. The tea merchants were some of the richest in the land . There were tea plantations all over the country.
“I must drink lots of tea or I cannot work. Tea unleashes the potential which slumbers in the depth of my soul.”Leo Tolstoy
The History of Tea in Europe
At first, tea was a drink to be served only to the elite. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to drink tea, but the Dutch made it popular. The Dutch were the largest importers of tea at that time. The East India Company was formed in 1600. After the formation, it took control of the monopoly right over half of the world’s trade. During the Opium War, the East India Company started to import tea from Chinese tea gardens for Britain and its colonies.
The History of Tea in the USA
The American liberation war witnessed the most important event in modern history regarding tea. The war of independence was on the scene. Americans want to free their country from a British regime. The Sons of Liberty were a group of American freedom fighters who destroyed a shipment to show their patriotism and protest against oppressive British law. This event has been introduced to modern history as the Boston Tea Party.
The history of tea in the Indian subcontinent
In 1778, on the recommendation of naturalist Joseph Banks, the British government decided to start to grow tea plants in Northeast India. In 1823, indigenous tea plants of the Assamica variety were discovered in Assam. In 1835, the first cultivated tea plant was grown in Assam and set the stage for the tea culture of the subcontinent.
In 1869, the opening of the Suez Canal opened the route for the export and import of tea to and from Asia . In 1957, the Retrovane machine was invented, and a giant increase in the production of tea made it the second most popular beverage after water. Now take a sip of tea, and know the history of the drink you need on every break as a Bengali.