At the beginning of every month we send out our Tea Club selections with information about the month's teas along with some tea trivia, recipes, history, tea and food pairings, etc. I figured last month's tea history about the countries where tea started would be an interesting blog post too.
The five traditional originating countries of tea are:
- China: Tea started in China thousands of years ago and was consumed initially for it medicinal qualities. Today China is best known for their pan fired green teas.
- Japan: Buddhist monks brought steamed green tea from Japan to China in the ninth century AD. Green teas, including matcha, have continued their popularity in Japan.
- India: The British brought tea production to India in the mid nineteenth century. They preferred black tea and were the first to use machines to harvest and process tea.
- Sri Lanka: The British also set up large tea plantations in Sri Lanka. Today Sri Lanka is well known for their high quality Ceylon teas.
- Taiwan: Many of the original tea makers fled China and emigrated to Taiwan bringing their plants and knowledge of tea with them. These days Taiwan is well known for world-class oolongs.
More recently, tea is grown and processed in many countries, including Kenya, Turkey, Indonesia, Argentina and even the US; however the majority of the best teas available today still come from Asia. Next week, I'll be traveling to Japan on my first guided tea tour! I hope to be able to visit the other four countries on tea tours someday.