Over the past fifty years, green tea has exploded into an extremely popular beverage choice for tea drinkers worldwide. But despite its late entrance into the western world, green tea has been consumed for centuries in Asian countries like China, Japan and India. Along with most other types of tea, green tea began as a drink fit only for nobles and slowly became available for all levels of society. In recent years, green tea's health benefits have made it even more popular among tea drinkers, especially in the western hemisphere.
Green Tea's beginnings
With its earliest reference dating back to the year 2737 BC, green tea history is long and fascinating. Green tea's roots lie with the Chinese Emperor Shennong, who accidentally drank water that had a dead tea leaf boiled in it. Green tea history, then, has an origin linked to the highest tier of Chinese society, which made it expensive and inaccessible to less-wealthy people. It was not until the fourteenth century that green tea became widespread throughout China for people from all walks of life who enjoyed for its taste and medicinal qualities.
Green Tea Goes West
While green tea has been enjoyed in China for around 5000 years, its history in the west is relatively short in comparison. One of the most interesting aspects of green tea history is its slow move from Asia to Europe and America.
European traders were first introduced to tea in the sixteenth century during trips to East Asia. The new drink so pleased the sailors and their homelands that it became an important commodity. Even now, Great Britain's national beverage is tea, though most British tea drinkers prefer black teas.
Along with settlers, tea was shipped over to the Americas, where it enjoyed great popularity among the early colonists. In fact, tea was so popular in America that Great Britain imposed a Tea Tax in 1767 that infuriated the colonists and sparked the Boston Tea Party of 1773, where 45 tons of green tea (called "bullet" tea because of its shape during shipping) was dumped into the harbor.
While green tea history may have seen its zenith of historical importance in the Boston Tea Party, recent green tea history involves the steady increase in the drink's popularity and health benefits. In the past few decades, green tea has been subjected to a variety of tests to determine the health advantages the high level of antioxidants provides for its consumers. The more scientists learn, the more impressed they become with green tea.