Tea

Most people know the tea plant Camellia sinensis in the brewed form of TEA. Tea has been part of Asian culture for thousands of years. Its use seems to have originated in southeastern China. It is mentioned in the very early Chinese medical literature. To a large extent, the medical benefits of tea can be ascribed to the chemical theophylline, which depending on its use can have either mildly calming or stimulating effects. The use of tea as a popular beverage and its production in large quantities has only been documented since the sixth century. The history of tea is also a history of international trade. Japan was one of the first countries to import tea from China, and tea became part of the Japanese culture. Chanoyu (the way of the tea) is a meditation ritual introduced in Japan by Zen Buddhist monks several hundred years ago, and elaborate tea ceremonies developed there. This tea ceremony is still taught and practiced in modern Japan.

Tea became the primary stimulant beverage not only in China and Japan but also in India, Malaysia, the Russian empire, and other Asian countries.

In the 1700s, tea was imported directly to Great Britain and to the British colonies by the East India Company. Even today, there are tea-preferring countries like Britain and coffee-preferring countries like Spain. The difference in preference goes back to the time of colonial trading: Those countries with tea-producing colonies drank tea, because it was cheaper than coffee; countries with coffee-producing colonies drank coffee, because for them it was cheaper than tea.

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