According to Chinese legend, tea was invented accidentally by the Chinese Emperor Shen Nong when leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant drifted into a heated open pot of water.

59 B.C.

Wang Bao wrote the first known book with instructions on buying and preparing tea.

22 C.E.

Famed physician and surgeon Hua Tuo wrote Shin Lun, in which he describes tea's ability to improve mental functions.

400-600 C.E.

The demand for tea rose steadily. Rather than harvest leaves from wild trees, farmers began to develop ways to cultivate tea.

479 C.E.

Turkish trades bartered for tea on the Mongolian border.

589-618 C.E.

During the Sui Dynasty, tea was introduced to Japan by Buddhist monks.

780 C.E.

Poet Lu Yu wrote the first book of tea, making him a living saint, patronised by the Emperor himself. The book described methods of cultivation and preparation.

1206 - 1368

During the Yan Dynasty, tea became an ordinary drink, never regaining the high status it once enjoyed in China. Marco Polo was not even introduced to tea when he visited.


In Japan, Eisai wrote a small book on tea, elevating its popularity further.

1368 - 1644

During the Ming Dynasty, Chinese people began to enjoy tea again. The new method of preparation was steeping whole leaves in water.

1422 - 1502

The Japanese tea ceremony was created by a Zen priest named Murata Shuko, who had developed his life to tea. The ceremony is called Cha No Yu, which means "hot water for tea".


The Dutch brought tea to Europe from China, trading dried sage in exchange.


Tea became known in France.


Tea was first sold in England at Garway's Coffee House in London.


The Taiwanese began to drink wild tea.


Charles II took Catherine Braganza of Portugal as his wife. They both drank tea, creating a fashion for it. It's popularity among the aristocracy causes alcohol beverages to fall from favour.


Close to 150 pounds of tea were shipped to England.


Traders with three hundred camels travelled 11,000 miles to China and back in order to supply Russia's demand. The trip took sixteen moths.


In Taiwan, settlers of Formosa's Nantou county cultivated the first domestic bushes. Dutch ships carried the tea to Persia, the first known export of Taiwanese tea.


The yearly importation of tea to England grew to approximately 800,000 pounds.


Wealthy American Colonists developed a taste for tea.


The Boston Tea Party, protesting high taxes that England levied on tea, began of the American colonies fight for independence. Under cover of night, colonists dressed as Native Americans boarded East India Company ships in Boston Harbour. They opened chests of tea and dumped their contents into the water. This was repeated in other less known instances up and down the coast.


England sent the first opium to China. Opium addiction in China funded the escalating demand for tea in England. Cash trade for the drug increased until the opium wars began in 1839.


An Imperial Edict from the Chinese Emperor closed all Chinese ports to foreign vessels until the end of the First Opium.


The East India Company established experimental tea plantations in Assam, India.


In 1839 the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce was established followed by the Planters' Association of Ceylon in 1854. In 1867, James Taylor marked the birth of the tea industry in Ceylon by starting a tea plantation in the Loolecondera estate in Kandy in 1867. He was only 17 when he came to Loolkandura, Sri Lanka.


Clipper ships, built in America, sped-up the transportation of tea to America and Europe, livening the space of trade. Some ships could make the trip from Hong Kong to London in ninety-five days. Races to London became commonplace; smugglers and blockade runners also benefited from the advances in sailing speeds.


Tea was planted in many areas of Darjeeling.


Tea plantations were started in Ceylon, though their tea would not be exported until the 1870's.


Trans-Siberan railroad made transport to Russia cheaper and faster. Java became an important producer as well.


Richard Blechynden created iced tea for the St Louis Wolrd Fair.


Thomas Sullivan invented tea bags in New York, sending tea to clients in silk bags which they began to mistakenly steep without opening.


Sumatra, Indonesia grows and exports tea. Soon thereafter, tea is grown in Kenya and other parts of Africa.


World's first instant tea is introduced.


The Taiwanese government encouraged its population to drink tea, revitalizing tea culture on the island.



Distributed to the Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

1993 - 2008

The American speciality tea market has quadrupled, now being worth $6.8 billion a year.


In 2020, global consumption of tea amounted to about 6.3 billion kilograms and is estimated to reach to 7.4 billion kilograms by 2025.