Photographer Kate Milford
Since ancient times, tea has been one of China's most important exports to the world, along with silk and porcelain. All tea plants originate from China even though tea is grown in countries throughout the world today.
Legend holds that tea was discovered by accident by Chinese Emperor Sh'eng Nung in 2737 BC when some leaves inadvertently fell into a pot of boiling water. Intrigued by the fragrance, he drank the leafy brew.
The first written documentation that mentions tea was not until the 3rd century BC, when a distinguished Chinese surgeon recommended it for boosting alertness. It is thought that in the early 17th century, either the Dutch or the Portuguese were responsible for bringing the first chest of Chinese tea to Europe. Since then, tea has become a leading beverage of choice worldwide.
Today tea has a wider following than ever before, due in part to modern scientific findings that suggest the health benefits of tea. Whether green, black, scented, or oolong, tea contains less caffeine than coffee and none of the sugar of cocoa drinks. Some studies have shown that regular tea consumption may lower the risk of heart disease and cancer and lower cholesterol. Green tea is said to contain many antioxidants and to be richer in these compounds than many fruits and vegetables.
Where to get tea?