History of Tea

There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea. - Bernard-Paul Heroux

The birthplace of tea is the subject of dispute, but Yunnan province in China, is supposedly the home of the world’s oldest tea tree, at over 3000 years old. According to Chinese legend, the emperor Shennong discovered tea when leaves from a tree blew into his cup of boiling water.

By the sixth century, tea had spread to Japan. Serving tea to guests soon became part of their culture. The apprentice geisha’s must know how to perform the tea ceremony and she is trained by a tea-master.

Tea arrived in Britain in the 1660s, imported on clippers. It was originally sold as a medicinal drink, but later became the preferred drink of the aristocracy. It is said that Samuel Pepys sampled the drink, writing in his diary “I did send for a cup of tee (a China drink) of which I never had drank before”.

It was opium that the British mainly traded for tea in the 18th century. The Chinese didn’t want silver, and the British eventually sent them so much of the drug from their Indian plantations that addiction became a major problem.

The Boston Tea Party came about because of a disagreement over tea. In 1773, American colonists were very angry at the level of taxation imposed by the British government on imported tea that they decided they would rather destroy the local tea ships than pay the price.

By the 19th century huge tea plantations had been established all over the world. The Latin name of the tea plant is Camellia sinensis. Over four million tons of tea are produced annually these days.

If the British are obsessed with tea, India is even more addicted. They are the largest consumer of tea in the world, Its medicinal properties were well known to the Indians, long before it arrived in Britain. However the British opened the first commercial plantations in the 19th century.

Afternoon tea first became a habit in the 1880s, when the Countess of Bedford, began eating a light snack with tea to prevent faintness. Soon,  friends were joining her and afternoon tea had become a social occasion. We are seeing something of a comeback today according to the hotel industry.

As tea spread to all corners of the globe, everyone found different ways of serving it. The Moroccan’s drink mint tea traditionally poured from a height into glasses, to cool and oxidise the drink which creates a subtle change in the flavour. In Taiwan they add tapioca and condensed milk to sweeten tea and the end product looks like a milkshake.

PG Tips first became available in the 1930s. Its full name is Pre-Gest-Tee, a name designed to suggest that the tea can be drunk before food was digested.  The brand is still strong across Britain.

In 1966 tea history underwent a major change when the pyramid-shaped bag was introduced. The shape is designed to allow the leaves to move more freely and creates a better infusion.

Today, Tea connoisseurs are paying more and more for the perfect tea. Teas from the Lumbini tea factory in Sri Lanka, can retail at over £600 per kilo.

Here we drink around 6,000 cups are drunk every minute in the UK.

History of Tea

Mae dechreuadau’r arfer o yfed te yn fater cynhennus, ond mae’n debyg mai yn nhalaith Yunnan yn China y mae’r goeden de hynaf, a hithau dros 3000 o flynyddoedd oed. Yn ôl y chwedl yn China, darganfuwyd te gan yr ymerawdwr Shennong pan chwythodd dail o goeden i’w gwpanaid o ddŵr berw.

Erbyn y chweched ganrif, roedd te wedi ymledu i Japan.  Daeth gweini te i westeion yn rhan o’u diwylliant yn fuan. Mae’n rhaid i brentisiaid geisha wybod sut i berfformio’r seremoni te, ac mae hi’n cael ei hyfforddi gan feistr te.

Cyrhaeddodd te Brydain yn y 1660au, wedi’i fewnforio ar longau cliper.  Fe’i gwerthid yn wreiddiol fel diod feddyginiaethol, ond yn ddiweddarach daeth yn ffefryn ymhlith y bonedd.  Dywedir bod Samuel Pepys wedi blasu’r ddiod, gan nodi yn ei ddyddiadur ei fod wedi gofyn am gwpanaid o de (diod o China) nad oedd wedi ei yfed o’r blaen.

Bu Prydain yn cyfnewid opiwm am de yn bennaf yn y 18 ganrif.  Nid oedd China eisiau’r metel arian, ac yn y pen draw, anfonodd Prydain gymaint o’r cyffur atyn nhw o’u planhigfeydd yn India fel bod caethiwed i’r cyffur wedi dod yn broblem fawr.

Digwyddodd Te Parti enwog Boston yn sgil anghydfod ynghylch te. Yn 1773, roedd gwladychwyr America yn flin iawn am lefel y dreth a godwyd gan lywodraeth Prydain ar de wedi’i fewnforio, fel iddyn nhw benderfynu y byddai’n well ganddyn nhw ddinistrio’r llongau te lleol na thalu’r pris.

Erbyn y 19 ganrif, roedd planhigfeydd te enfawr wedi cael eu sefydlu ledled y byd.  Enw Lladin y planhigyn te yw Camellia sinensis.  Mae dros bedwar miliwn tunnell o de yn cael ei gynhyrchu’n flynyddol erbyn hyn.

Os oes gan Brydain obsesiwn gyda the, mae hynny’n fwy gwir byth am India.  Dyma’r wlad lle yfir y mwyaf o de yn y byd.  Roedd ei rinweddau meddyginiaethol yn hysbys iawn i’r Indiaid ymhell cyn iddo gyrraedd Prydain.  Er hynny, Prydain a agorodd y planhigfeydd masnachol cyntaf yn y 19 ganrif.

Daeth yn arferiad cael te yn y prynhawn tua’r 1880au, pan ddechreuodd Iarlles Bedford fwyta byrbryd ysgafn gyda the rhag iddi lewygu.  Yn aml, roedd cyfeillion yn ymuno â hi, a daeth te’r prynhawn yn achlysur cymdeithasol.  Mae’r arfer ar gynnydd eto heddiw yn ôl y diwydiant gwestai.

Wrth i de ledaenu i bob cwr o’r byd, gwelwyd bod ffyrdd gwahanol o’i weini.  Mae pobl Moroco yn yfed te mintys sy’n cael ei dywallt i wydrau o uchder yn draddodiadol, er mwyn ocsideiddio’r ddiod a chael newid cynnil yn y blas.  Yn Taiwan, maen nhw’n ychwanegu tapioca a llaeth cyddwysedig i felysu’r te, ac mae’r cynnyrch gorffenedig yn edrych fel ysgytlaeth.

Gwerthwyd PG Tips i’r cyhoedd am y tro cyntaf yn y 1930s.  Ei enw llawn yw Pre-Gest-Tee, enw a ddyluniwyd i awgrymu y gellir yfed y te cyn treulio bwyd.  Mae’r brand yn dal yn enwog ledled Prydain.

Bu newid mawr yn hanes te yn 1996 , pan gyflwynwyd bagiau siâp pyramid. Dyluniwyd y siâp i roi mwy o le i’r dail symud, ac maen nhw’n trwytho’n well.

Heddiw, mae arbenigwyr te yn talu mwy a mwy am y te perffaith.  Gall te o ffatri de Lumbini yn Sri Lanka hawlio pris dros £600 y kilo.

Yma ym Mhrydain, rydym yn yfed tua 6,000 cwpanaid o de bob munud.