History of tea
Over thousands of years, tea has spread from its mother country, China, across mountain ranges, oceans, and political borders to all corners of the Earth. The love of a humble leaf has transformed tastes, shaped religions, ignited trade wars, and changed cultures forever.
Today, this world-forging drink has become the most popular beverage on Earth, aside from water. Though we cannot hope to convey the worldwide impact of tea, we present these influential teas which each represent a small taste of history.
Until the arrival of British tea plantations in the 1850s, Tulsi was the most popular tea in India. Though the tea leaf eventually displaced Tulsi, this basil relative maintains an important place in Ayurvedic medicine. Tulsi has been used for thousands of years to balance body processes, clear the respiratory tract of toxins, and reduce bloating. This caffeine-free brew is also believed to act as an antiseptic.
Golden Needle Yunnan Red
Black teas like this one were staples in Europe and the Americas in the 1700s. By 1839, the tea-addicted British were willing to go to war with the Chinese, who had a monopoly on tea production, to maintain trading rights for tea and silk. An important black tea produced for many centuries, Golden Needle Yunnan Red is a Dianhong: the Chinese classification for high-grade black teas produced in the Yunnan Province. This elegant black tea gets its name from its golden leaf tips, an indication of high quality. These prized leaves offer both a sweet flavor and a mild caffeine boost, great for an early-morning pick-me-up
In the 1820s, after realizing tea grew wild in colonized India, Britain began producing and exporting Assam leaves to break the Chinese monopoly on tea. Though both are black teas, Assam BOP and Golden Needle Yunnan Red are derived from different subspecies of the tea plant, cultivated in different regions, and with distinctive flavors. Assam teas are known for their malty taste, attributed to the area's tropical climate. Try Assam Breakfast as a full-flavored replacement for coffee in the morning. Though among the more caffeinated teas, Assam Breakfast won’t cause that ‘coffee crash’.
Though the broom-like Rooibos plant has been picked and brewed for centuries in the South African wild, it did not become a commercial crop until the Dutch began cultivation in the 1930s. Rooibos lends its rich, nutty flavor to many delicious blends. Also called ‘red tea’, Rooibos can be confused with Chinese black teas, which are identified as “red” in their home country. Rooibos boasts a host of healthy components, from metabolism-boosting zinc to cardiovascular-protecting Chrysoeriol. Try TeaCha’s Organic Rooibos as a replacement for coffee if you’re looking to cut back on caffeine.