Tea was the first brewed beverage. The Chinese emperor Shen Nung in 2737 B.C. introduced the drink. Chinese writer Lu Yu wrote in A.D. 780 that there were “tens of thousands” of teas. Chinese tea was introduced to Japan in A.D. 800. It was then introduced to Europe in the early 1600s, when trade began between Europe and the Far East. At that time, China was the main supplier of tea to the world. Then in 1834, tea cultivation began in India and spread to Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, and other areas of Southeast Asia. Today, Java, South Africa, South America, and areas of the Caucasus also produce tea.
There are three kinds of tea: black, green, and oolong. Most international tea trading is in black tea. Black tea preparation consists mainly of picking young leaves and leaf buds on a clear sunny day and letting the leaves dry for about an hour in the sun. Then, they are lightly rolled and left in a fermentation room to develop scent and a red color. Next, they are heated several more times. Finally, the leaves are dried in a basket over a charcoal fire. Green tea leaves are heated in steam, rolled, and dried. Oolong tea is prepared similarly to black tea, but without the fermentation time.
Three main varieties of tea—Chinese, Assamese, and Cambodian—have distinct characteristics. The Chinese variety, a strong plant that can grow to be 2.75 meters high, can live to be 100 years old and survives cold winters. The Assamese variety can grow 18 meters high and lives about 40 years. The Cambodian tea tree grows five meters tall.
Tea is enjoyed worldwide as a refreshing and stimulating drink. Because so many people continue to drink the many varieties of tea, it will probably continue as the world’s most popular drink.
【題組】45. In the early 1600s, tea was introduced to Europe due to