Drinking Tea plays a central part in our lives. It is a universal phenomenon with millions of people the world over enjoying it on a daily basis. It is hard to imagine a world without tea. In fact it has become the most widely consumed beverage on earth after water.
Tea has a long history that spans across numerous countries over thousands of years. Legend says that tea originated in2737 BC when the highly disliked Emperor Shen Nung of China was removed from power and driven out to an isolated spot in Southern China. Having no money to drink anything else but water, Shen Nung happened to be sitting under a tree one day when a gust of wind dropped a few leaves into his cup of boiling water. He loved the blend and found it so relaxing that he sat under that tree for the next seven years and wouldn’t drink anything else.
Tea was first discovered in China, in the mountains around Sichuan and Yunnan. According to earliest legend Emperor Shen Nung first sampled the drink when some unidentified leaves fell into his pot of hot water. Allegedly, Shen Nung used to wander the country recording the effects of infusions made from the leaves and berries of various plants.
He discovered that tea cured him of a stomach ache contracted as a result of drinking a toxic herb. It has since been scientifically proven that the polyphenols in tea inhibit the growth of bad bacteria in the gut, and helps good bacteria to flourish, along with having antimicrobial properties that can kill off harmful substances.
People in China were the first drinkers of tea, and they did so for hundreds for years before it was eventually discovered by European explorers. The Chinese thought tea to be both hugely beneficial for health and appropriate to use as a religious offering.
Asia is by far the biggest producer supplying 80-90% of all tea, mainly from India, China, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. India is the largest individual tea-producing country, growing nearly 30% of the world’s tea. Tea was introduced to East Africa at the beginning of the 20th century. It has become an important crop there, particularly in the highlands of Kenya.