The History of Tea

Tea's scientific name is "Camellia sinensis". Its earlier scientific name was "Thea sinensis", that is where our shop's name, Thea Tea Shop, comes from.

There is no direct evidence to show when tea first appeared. The best scientific estimate is that it appeared between sixty million and seventy million years ago.

When was tea discovered and used by human beings?

There is a Chinese tale:

In ancient times, there was an emperor, Sin Nong, who had a distinctive appearance. He had a pair of cow's horns on top of his head and his abdomen was as clear as a crystal. Sin Nong was concerned that his people were dying because of eating plants that turned out to be poisonous weeds. He decided to test every herb by eating it himself and observing the results. Sin Nong's best record for eating poisonous plants was 72 times in one day!

When he discovered a poisonous plant he would try to find another plant that eased the symptoms.

One particular day he poisoned himself (again) - resulting in extreme stomach pains, cramps and convulsions - and none of the normal antidotes worked - the pain kept getting worse and worse. The pain was so bad he could hardly move. However he was able to reach a tree he didn't recognise, so with nothing to lose he plucked a few leaves and put them in his mouth.

At first the leaf was terribly bitter but a couple of minutes later he felt fresh energy spread through his body and the pain and cramping started easing. He named this plant "Cha" - which was changed by the British to "tea"