Origins of Tea: The History of the Nation’s Favourite Drink

Written by Katie Wilson, EP Business in Hospitality.

Tea is often thought of as quintessentially British, and while we do certainly have a special relationship with the beloved drink, tea has travelled through time and space, and found a home in the hearts of millions of people around the world. To trace the history of tea is to reveal a rich and vivid tapestry spanning thousands of years and countless cultures, and it is through this journey we can see how tea first arrived in Britain and became the nation’s favourite drink.

The cultivation of tea dates far back, with the first recording during the Ganlu era of Emperor Xuan of Han (53-50) when tea bushes were planted on Meng Mountain east of Chengdu. Buddhist monasteries were founded on the mountain, and for more than 1000 years, from the Tang and Qing dynasties, tea was grown there by the monks as sent to the capital as an imperial tribute for the emperor.

The custom of drinking tea emerged in China centuries before it was even heard of in the West. It was under the Tang Dynasty (618-907) that tea truly began to flourish as a drink. It was also in the Tang that Tea was brought to Japan by Japanese Buddhist monks who had travelled to China to study. Tea drinking became a central and celebrated part of Japanese culture. Look no further than the Japanese tea ceremony, carried out with care and grace.

To trace the history of tea is to gaze into that vivid hue, whether it be the amber tones of English breakfast, the golden tint of Darjeeling, or the soft honeyed shades of Oolong tea. There we will see, reflected upon the surface, the history of the most beloved drink in the world, and to peer deeper into the infusion, we will find the brilliant variety of our own personal and cultural histories, all contained in one small cup.

Tea, a drink with a rich and storied history dating back centuries, has been cherished by cultures around the world for its diverse flavours and soothing qualities. However, beneath the surface of this ancient tradition lies a troubling issue of fair pay for tea workers. It is high time for a global transformation, ensuring that those who cultivate and produce this beloved drink receive the fair compensation and recognition they deserve, thus reshaping the history of tea into a more equitable and sustainable future.

Tuesday the 21st November – Central London

Can We Make London The First Fair Pay City In The World?

This is the ambition of the Mayor, to see London become the first fair pay city in the world. Supporting the need to improve the wages of those who work on the great tea plantations across the world.

EP is delighted to be hosting in partnership with London Tea Exchange (LTE), the launch of the Fair Pay Charter on the 21st of November. This has been led by Aliur Rahman, one of the foremost experts in tea around the world who represented the UK at COP conferences. This global campaign is supported by the United Nations and will ensure fair pay for all those who live and work on tea plantations. We are sharing this very special event with the industry, granting the Hospitality community the opportunity to lead and support life-changing transformations for those living in poverty. We hope you can join us.

This event will take place on the 21st of November, from 8:30am until 11am.

Please register your interest to be a part of something ground-breaking by pressing the button below.