ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

For All the Tea From China

Updated on August 8, 2022
Jodah profile image

John is a long-time poet, short fiction, and article writer. He loves story-telling and also has a Certificate in Permaculture Design.


A Brief History of Tea in China

Chinese Folklore

The origins of tea are a matter of wide debate, but popular legend is an interesting place to start. One path of belief is that tea was discovered in China by the mythical sage and Emperor Shennong around 2737 BCE. The Emperor had earlier decreed that all water must be boiled before drinking. He stumbled upon the brew accidentally when a few leaves fell into his cup of hot water from a burning twig from a nearby camellia tree.

While there are no official historical records existing that prove this incident to be true, Shennong became the patron saint of farming and agriculture. Stories say he would personally taste and test herbs on himself (as a Guinea pig) to help him understand their effects on humans.

Emperor/sage Shennong is said to have conducted tests on the tea and claimed it offered positive long-term effects on the human body. This highlighted the healing and medicinal properties of tea leaves and resulted in tea being regarded an essential herb in Chinese medicine.

Shennong, the Farmer God, tasting herbs to discover their qualities Date	1914 Source	Li Ung Bing, Outline of Chinese History,
Shennong, the Farmer God, tasting herbs to discover their qualities Date 1914 Source Li Ung Bing, Outline of Chinese History, | Source

For All the Tea From China - a Poem

Merchants sailed the oceans,

Across the seven seas.

To every part of the known world

As they traded goods for tea.

"Boil all drinking water!"

Was sage Shennong's decree.

Some leaves fell in the water

From a burning nearby tree.

The water changed in colour

But the Emperor took a sip.

The pleasant taste surprised him

So from the tree more leaves he snipped.


Tea found it's way to Europe

By traders Dutch and Portuguese.

And eventually to Britain,

Who embrace a cup of tea.

Sales of gin and ale reduced,

The effect was far from minor.

The smuggling trade became the norm

For all the tea from China.

Morocco's famed for its sweet tea,

Though to some Ceylon's is best.

Tea in Japan is quite revered,

But China's wins each test.


Tea Smuggling and Clippers

Tea Smuggling to Britain

During the 1700s ships from Holland and other Scandinavian countries brought tea to the British coast, then anchored offshore while British smugglers (usually local fishermen) met them and unloaded the precious cargo into small vessels. The smugglers then snuck the tea inland through underground passages and overgrown tracks to secret hiding places. One of the most popular and successful hiding places proved to be the local parish church, the last place authorities would think to find illegal contraband.

Even smuggled tea was expensive, however, and to make it even more profitable the smugglers began to mix the tea with other substances, such as willow, liquorice, and even previously used tea leaves.

Tea Clippers

In the early 1800's ships carrying tea from Asia to Britain could take more than a year to deliver their precious cargo. When the East India Company was given a monopoly on the tea trade in 1832, they realised the need to speed up this long journey. The British closely followed the Americans in the design and use of "clippers", or streamlined, tall-masted vessels which could move at nearly 18 knots - almost as fast as a modern ocean liner.

This race for speed was considered so important that an annual competition for clippers was established, to race from the Canton River to the London Docks. The first ship to unload its cargo won the captain and crew a substantial reward.

The most famous of these clipper ships was the “Cutty Sark”, built in 1868. It only made the tea run eight times, but was a remarkable ship for its era. It now sits proudly on public exhibition at Greenwich Harbour.

The Cutty Sark was one of the last and fastest of the tea clippers
The Cutty Sark was one of the last and fastest of the tea clippers | Source

Enjoy Your Cuppa

So, the next time you sit down to enjoy a hot cup of tea perhaps you will spend a little time thinking about the rich history of this remarkable beverage that has become so popular around the world in so many different forms (black, green, chai, Earl Gray, iced tea etc. Companies like Tetleys, Lipton, Dillmah, T2 and many others also produce teas in combinations of almost any flavour you can imagine.

But whatever type of tea is your favourite, just sit back, relax and enjoy this wonderful brew.

Enjoy your cup of tea
Enjoy your cup of tea | Source


Much of much of the content (around half) has been removed due to duplication, or similarities to another hub or content found elsewhere on the Internet. With historical facts it is difficult to avoid that. For that reason I have deleted all information about the movement of tea between Asia and Europe as well as the introduction to the coffee house in Britain where tea would eventually take over from coffee, gin, and ale as the general population's (especially the middle and lower classes) favourite drink.

© 2016 John Hansen


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)