History of Green Tea
This is part 1 of my expose on green tea. In writing this green tea article, believe me, I had to read a huge volume of medical text and less-than-exciting historical information. What I did is condense all the important elements into a few readable parts. This tea article is divided into 3 parts : Green Tea History, Green Tea Health Benefits, and Green Tea Best Practices which will focus on how to brew green tea.
History of Green Tea
Green Tea is thought to originate from, you guessed it, China. We know the Chinese have been drinking green tea for a damn long time, as much as 5000 years. How do we know this? There’s an ancient Chinese document from 2737 B.C. that refers to the health benefits of green tea. That’s how. It’s not quite 5000 years yet but I’m assuming it took a few hundred years of drinking before they decided to finally document green tea’s benefits.
Green tea was an expensive beverage even though the process for obtaining it was rather simple: pick it off a camellia sinensis plant and brew it in hot water. The good old fashioned method, none of this modern processing nonsense. Because of its price, green tea was mostly consumed by the upper echelons of society. However, after the collapse of the Mongol empire in 1368 A.D., green tea consumption became commonplace among all strata of society. At this time, green tea was a staple drink of sailors and what a great decision this was. The vitamin C present in green teas was enough to prevent scurvy from ravaging China’s ranks. Unfortunately for Europe’s contemporary sailors, they did not drink green tea, or eat oranges for that matter, and were decimated by scurvy.
A quick bit of clarification is necessary at this juncture. My previous references to “green tea” could be shortened simply to tea because in the time to which I refer, all tea was green. However, this dynamic is about to change because as China lost its wealth and stature toward the end of the Ming dynasty, black and oolong teas became more commonplace. There are a few reasons for this:
1. Green tea has some supposed fat burning properties. When food is scarce, you want to preserve every morsel of fat you have.
2. As the cities grew poorer, more Chinese began to flee to the countryside. The time between cultivation and consumption increased which is problematic because given contemporary preservation methods, green tea’s freshness was defunked. Oolong and Black teas are easier to preserve.
The first shipment of tea to arrived from the orient to Europe was green tea. In 1606, the Dutch East India company, which held a monopoly on the tea trade in the 17th century, imported its first tea. If you have ever heard the term orange pekoe to designate a high quality tea, you might mistake “orange” for the color of fruit. However, in this context, it refers to the Dutch House of Orange, the ruling family of the Netherlands at this time.
There is clearly more history to be covered but we got to get to the good stuff. Believe me, I will write an entire expose on the history of tea.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this teasan training which will discuss the vast quantity of green tea health benefits.
In tea, we are victorious,
I would like to thank http://www.teaforhealth.com/history for the bulk of this information.