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The origin of tea can be traced back to over 4000 years ago in China. No one is sure where and when tea was first brewed; stories about tea's origins are more myth than reality. One story tells that a legendary Chinese leader and medical expert, Sheng Nong, discovered tea as a medicinal herb in 2737 B.C. One day while he was boiling water under a tea tree, some tealeaves fell into Sheng's pot of boiling water. After drinking some tea, he discovered its miraculous powers and immediately placed tea on his list of medicinal herbs.  

Initially used as an offering and as medicine, tea became the most commonly used beverage during western Han dynasty. Buddhist monks started growing it around monasteries. Later, during the Ming dynasty, the tea trade took an upper share in the state economy and the ”Tea and Horse Bureau" was set up to supervise tea trade. 

A Buddhist Monk introduced tea to Japan in the 6th Century and later in the 16th Century a Portuguese missionary introduced it to Europe. There began the history of Tea as an international drink. Trade between China and the western world grew considerably with the beginning of the Ching Dynasty. As the Emperor of China was taking his first snuff of tobacco brought from Europe, the Queen of England was sipping her first cup of tea. As early as 1615, English traders with the East India Company were aware of the existence of tea. Tea quickly spread throughout Europe and in less than 100 years, England's import of tea rose from 100 pounds a year to over 5 million pounds per year. This demand for tea meant many voyages to bring shiploads of tea from China.  

Along with the tea, came porcelain. To stabilize these large ships they required ballast. ( heavy objects or weights in the lowest section of the hull of the ship to counterbalance the weight of the masts and sails) On their journey eastward, the ballast consisted of lead and sulpher, which was traded to the Chinese for tea. They needed something cheap and of equal weight for the journey home. Porcelain goods were the perfect solution.  

Unlike tea, which took time to cultivate and could only be grown in certain climates, the only requirement for porcelain was clay and craftsmen. Both of which were abundant in China. The Chinese were eager to supply porcelain goods to the west, as they could turn dirt into gold with the addition of labor. By the end of the 18th century, millions of pieces of porcelain were being produced for export. 

Benefits of Drinking Tea 

Much was written in ancient Chinese books about tea, and in particular, about its health benefits: “Drinking genuine tea aids in quenching thirst and in digestion, checks phlegm, wards off sleepiness, stimulates renal activity, improves eyesight and mental prowess, dispels boredom and dissolves greasy food.” 

In recent years, the legendary medicinal properties of tea have been given serious scientific support. Studies have shown that drinking four cups of green tea a day can reduce the risk of developing stomach and lung cancer as well as heart disease. Green tea contains, among others, the cancer-fighting flavonoid epigallocatechin gallate (ECGC). ECGC is unique in that it seems to battle cancer at all stages, from thwarting chemical carcinogens, to suppressing the spread of tumors. ECGC is as much as 100 times more powerful an antioxidant as vitamin C, and 25 times more powerful than vitamin E. ECGC also may account for the antibacterial properties of green tea.

Chinese Dynasties Along the Silk Road
Chinese Porcelain Trade The History of Silk
150g Oolong Tea
150g Oolong Tea
Covered Porcelain Tea Cup
Covered Porcelain Tea Cup
Japanese Maru-Cha Tea Set
Japanese Maru-Cha Tea Set
Yixing Tea Set
Yixing Tea Set
Porcelain Tea Set
Porcelain Tea Set

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