Tea has become an integral part of English culture. But the discovery of the tea leaves and the hot drink goes back 5,000 years. Experts say that the Chinese discovered the power of plants. It would take many millennia before tea finally found its way to Europe. Today tea is the most popular drink in the world and is even ahead of coffee. One of the hubs for trading in the coveted goods is the German port city of Hamburg.
5,000 Years Old
The Chinese emperor Shennong is considered to be the discoverer of tea. Under his rule 3000 years before Christ, it was already common practice to boil tea leaves with water. Herbal additives provided a better flavour. As expected, the legend of the discovery of tea is floral. One day leaves fell from a bush into the emperor’s drinking water. That turned golden brown. When the emperor tasted the accidentally created drink, he was enthusiastic about its taste. The unknown plant was a tea bush. This secret was to have remained hidden in Asia for 4,600 years. Only the Dutch brought the plant to Europe as a trading nation. The sailors of the Dutch East India Company bought the tea on Java from Portuguese traders and brought it to Amsterdam. That was in 1610. Around 90 years later, a British company got the monopoly for trading with the tee. It was the British East India Company. That kept the trust for 100 years.
Part Of The British Way Of Life
The journey to England began with tea in the form of a dowry. The Portuguese princess Katharina von Braganza married the English King Charles II in 1662. Her dowry also included tea. That very quickly became popular at the English court. From there, tea conquered the entire country and quickly became very popular among all strata of the population. The first public tea house opened in London as early as 1706. From then on, there was no stopping it. Today tea grows naturally in England too. The mild climate made the plant at home on the island. Tea is part of the English way of life, like the rich breakfast and the passion for gardens.
But it is not the British people who are the most significant tea drinkers in the world, but the citizens of North Germany. More precisely, these are the East Frisians. They initially got to know tea from the nearby Dutch. A tea culture quickly developed, which has meanwhile been placed on the list of intangible cultural heritage by the UNESCO Commission. Every East Frisian drink around 300 litres of tea per year, which is 100 litres more than the British consumes per year. The central trading hub is in Hamburg. Germany now exports its tea creations to 110 countries worldwide. Even in the original tea-growing countries like China and Japan, people value the teas from Germany. There is no end in sight to the global tea boom.