A hot or iced beverage made with the dried leaves of the tea shrub, a bush growing in Africa and Asia. There are many different varieties of teas and herbals teas (made with leaves or flowers, like peppermint or chamomile).

Hot. Iced. Herbal. Chai. Flavored. Infused with hone and lemon. Long Island. With a kick. There are so many different ways to drink tea, thereís a pretty good chance that you like at least one of them. But have you ever thought about just when and where tea first came into existence? Hereís a hint - it didnít start with the Boston Tea Party!

It was more than 5,000 years ago that tea was first consumed in China. Legend has it that an emperor named Shen Nung was not only a good ruler, but was also an arts patron and creative scientist. While out and about on a summer day, Nung and his court stopped to rest and partake in a beverage. The servants boiled water, not realizing that leaves from a nearby bush found their way into the liquid, turning it brown and giving it a new and wonderful flavor. Nung, known for his love of science, decided to try the drink and loved the way it tastes. Tea was born!

Although this story is just a legend, it is thought that the events were quite similar to those that actually led to teaís discovery.

Regardless of how the beverage was discovered, what is known is how popular tea has been throughout history.

Teaís popularity began in China, spreading quickly throughout the culture early on. Lu Yu wrote the first book about the beverage, Chía Ching, in 800 A.D. He is also known for discovering various ways to cultivate and prepare tea in China.

China isnít the only country to have a hand in the rise of tea popularity. A Buddhist priest by the name of Yeisei brought tea seeds to the country with him upon returning from a trip to China. Because if his contribution, Yeisei is now known as the Father of Tea.

The first teas were brewed by using boiling tea leaves that were cut into thin strips by a small device that used a sharp wheel positioned in the middle of a wooden or ceramic pot. However, in the early 1900s, the process of brewing tea became much easier with the introduction of tea bags.

Early tea bags were created by placing the leaves in silk muslin bags that were hand-sewn shut. Around 1904, New Yorker Thomas Sullivan, a coffee and tea merchant, not only found success with commercially marketing tea bags, but also began shipping them around the world.

It wasnít long before a machine was invented to make tea bags, making the process faster and easier.

Around the same time that tea bags found commercial success, preparing the beverage iced also became popular. Although some may argue that evidence points to iced teaís invention at an earlier date, Englishmen Richard Blechynden was reported to have served iced tea at the St. Louis Fair in 1904.

The Lipton Tea Company was incorporated in 1915 by Thomas Lipton. This is still a name you will see today, along with many others, which proves just how popular tea has become.

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