Fact File about the Invention of Tea: Invention: Tea *** Date of Invention: c. 2737 BC *** Name of Inventor: Shen Nung *** Lifespan of Inventor: c.2700 B.C. - c.2768 B.C. *** Nationality of Inventor: Chinese *** Historical Period: Ancient China *** Category: Food and Drink *** Country of Origin: Ancient China *** Facts about the Inventor, Shen Nung, and the invention of
Fact 1: Who invented Tea? Tea is said to have been invented by Shen Nung c. 2737 BC during
the Ancient China era of inventions.
Fact 2: Who invented Tea? Prior to the invention of Tea c. 2737 BC,
people were known to drink herbal brews by boiling or steeping leaves, flowers,
barks and fruits in water.
Fact 3: Who invented Tea? The dates of this mythological figure may well
be fictitious but according to ancient Chinese sources the inventor of Tea, Shen Nung, was born c.2700 B.C. and died
c.2768 B.C. He is known as the 'Father of Chinese medicine'.
Fact 4: Who invented Tea? Shen Nung is revered as one of the god emperors
who improved the lives of the Chinese people by imparting essential skills and
Fact 5: Who invented Tea? The name Shen Nung, aka Shennong, means "Divine
Husbandman" in the Chinese language. He is said to have been born with the head
of a bull and the body of a man. Shen Nung is credited with the invention of the
plow and the cart and for teaching the people farming techniques and
establishing a stable agricultural society in China. The knowledge he passed to
the Chinese included a list of 365 medicinal plants which later became the basis
of herbological studies and the medicinal effects of plants - hence his title
the 'Father of Chinese medicine'.
Fact 6: Who invented Tea? Legend tells that Shen Nung discovered tea by
accident when some leaves from a Camellia sinensis plant, the plant that all
traditional teas are made from, blew into his pot and infused with the boiling
water. And the history of tea drinking began...
Fact 7: Who invented Tea? Evidence of early tea drinking has been
discovered in tombs dating back to the Han Dynasty (206BC - 220AD) and by the
historical period known as the Tang Dynasty tea had become established as the
national drink of China.
Fact 8: Who invented Tea? The Chinese were isolationists but as China and
Japan are geographically separated only by a relatively narrow stretch of ocean
the two countries and became in contact during the Han dynasty (206BC - 220AD)
and Japan began to take on many Chinese traditions including tea drinking.
Fact 9: Who invented Tea? In 350AD Tea was cited in the Erya or Erh-ya,
the oldest surviving Chinese dictionary. The Han Chinese Min speakers called the
beverage 'te' and is the origin of the English word "tea". The names 'cha' and 'chai'
derived from the Mandarin language.
Fact 10: Who invented Tea? The first Europeans to trade with China and
Japan were the Portuguese. In 1557 Portugal acquired Macao, on the south coast
of China, and began trade with the Chinese and the Japanese. 'Te' or 'cha' was
first introduced to Portuguese merchants and priests .
Fact 11: Who invented Tea? The Dutch established a trade based colony in
Java in the late 1500's, expanding maritime trade between Europe and the Orient
(leading to the establishment of the Dutch East India Company). In 1606 the
Dutch were the first nation whose ships brought tea from China and Japan in
Fact 12: Who invented Tea? The strange oriental drink was at first
marketed as a medicinal drink, although it was so expensive that at first only
the very wealthy could afford it. The drink became extremely fashionable in the
Netherlands and Portugal and from there the new beverage spread to other
countries in Europe.
Fact 13: Who invented Tea? During the 1600's coffee-houses became
centers of social activity in the major cities of Europe.
Coffee was introduced to England in 1650. In 1657 the first tea was sold in
London at Garraway’s Coffee House, as a health beverage. It was referred to as
the 'China Drink' but also known as Te or Cha.
Fact 14: Who invented Tea? The popularity of the 'China Drink'
increased further when King Charles II of England married Catherine Braganza of
Portugal who was an avid tea-drinker and her custom was adopted as the most
fashionable drink at the royal court and by the wealthy.
Fact 15: Who invented Tea? The tea-trade prospered and the East India
Company acquired a monopoly on the product and began to import it to England in
large quantities making it more accessible. Its popularity increased and the
first tea shop in England was established in 1717 by Thomas Twining who
converted his shop in the Strand, London called 'Tom’s Coffee House' to the
"Golden Lyon". Thomas Twining went on to become the founder of Twinings of
Fact 16: Who invented Tea? Different types of teas were sold in England.
The cheapest was black Bohea, the next was Congou which was a superior type of
black Bohea and Souchong which was the best of the black teas. Singlo was the
name of one of the green teas and more expensive than black teas. Hyson which
was the most desirable, and expensive of all the green teas.
Fact 17: Who invented Tea? Tea was easy to tax at the port of entry of
the ships that brought it from China. The high taxes were used to finance wars
or whatever was deemed necessary by the British government. The taxes were also
imposed on the American colonies. In 1768, American colonists consumed almost
two million pounds of tea each year, an average of 2-3 cups every day. In 1773
the imposition of British taxes led to the famous event known as the 'Boston Tea
Fact 18: Who invented Tea? In 1773 the Tea Act, a law that allowed the
British East India Company to sell its low-cost tea directly to the colonies,
undermined the colonial tea merchants. The British law was seen as
unconstitutional by American patriots. Three ships, the Dartmouth, Beaver and
Eleanor, carrying 342 chests of tea, arrived in Boston Harbor on December 16,
1773 and a party of Sons of Liberty patriots, dressed as Native Indians, went on
board the ships and threw the tea into the harbor. The American Revolution began
two years later and the American tradition of drinking coffee in preference to
Fact 19: Who invented Tea? In 1834 the East India Company's monopoly on
trade with China came to an end and resulted in British colonies such as Sri
Lanka (previously Ceylon) and India growing and producing tea and establishing a
new economy in the countries.
Fact 20: Who invented Tea? In 1840 Anna the Duchess of Bedford introduced
the famous British custom of 'afternoon tea' which she hosted in her rooms at
Woburn Abbey. Before too long fashionable society was drinking their favorite
beverage, eating small cakes and nibbling sandwiches in the middle of the
afternoon. The custom still survives today.
Fact 21: Who invented Tea? The history of the second most consumed drink
after water moved on in 1904 when Englishman Richard Blechynden invented iced
tea during a heat wave at the St. Louis World’s Fair.
Fact 22: Who invented Tea? New York tea merchant Thomas Sullivan
invented tea bags in 1908 when he began to send tea to clients in small silk
bags. His customers mistakenly steeped the whole bag in hot water and the teabag
was invented. The teabags were developed in the 1920's when the bags were
replaced first by gauze and then paper containers.
Fact 23: Who invented Tea? The favorite British brands include those made
by Lipton, Twinings, Brooke Bond PG Tips, Yorkshire, Tetley and Typhoo. Favorite
brands in the United States include Tazo, Celestial Seasonings, Teavana, Red
Diamond, Mighty Leaf, Luzianne and Argo.