Tea Education — History


History of Tisane 0


The history and etymology of the word tisane (pronounced tee-zahn), varies. Some say tisane comes from the Greek word, ptisanē, which refers to a medicinal drink made from barley-soaked water. While others believe the French invented the word, saying Ti (tea) and Sans (French for without) creates the meaning, “tea without tea.”


Documentation about the genesis of herbal tisane is very limited. There is one Chinese legend about a man named Shennog, known as the “divine farmer,” who lived from 2737 BC to 2697 BC. He discovered the infusion of herbs when he was drinking hot water outdoors and some leaves from a nearby tree blew into his cup. He took a sip and was pleasantly surprised by the delicious concoction. One of the earliest writings about tisane was recorded in a medical book during the third century AD. It was written by Hua T’o, a Chinese physician and surgeon, who was a pioneer in the field of medicine. He is known for creating some of the first herbal treatments and anesthetics by decocting medicinal plants.


Many tisanes found their beginning in Egypt during 1550 BC. Chamomile was recorded to be enjoyed by Egyptians in the Ebers Papyrus. It was used to honor the gods, embalm the dead, and cure the sick. Herbs like dill and basil were also blended into tisanes to aid digestion and treat heart issues. It was not until 1070 BC that herbal tisanes became a standard beverage for personal enjoyment.


In the 16th century, merchants from Portugal imported tea and tisanes from China to Western Europe. By the 17th century, tea evolved into one of Europe’s most popular commodities, most specifically in Britain. The British made a profitable business of transporting teas and tisanes to Indian consumers and later to America when they explored the New World. Today, tisanes are gaining popularity in tea shops and have become an alternative to expensive medications.

  • Zoe Maiden
  • Tags: History

The History of White Tea 0

White tea originated in China during the Chinese Imperial Dynasties (600-1300). Tea drinking was a vital part of Chinese culture during this time. Every year, citizens were required to make a yearly tribute to the current Emperor, and it was often done in the form of tea, much like a tea tax. The tea presented could not just be any tea, it specifically had to be one that was both rare and fine. The most “rare and fine” tea at that time was white tea because it was formed from the youngest and most delicate tea plant buds. Secret Imperial Gardens were developed to harvest these rare and honoring teas.


The white tea used during Imperial tea tributes were not like the teas used today. During the Song Dynasty (960-1297), the young tea buds would be plucked, meticulously rinsed, and ground into a white powder. This technique produced the most elegant cup of tea available in China and was only affordable to the Emperor.


The white tea we know today was cultivated in the 1700s from the original white tea bushes of the Fujian province in China. These tea bushes created large and beautiful tea buds where loose leaf tea varieties were developed. At first, loose leaf white tea was rarely available outside of the Fujian Province. Due to the minimal processing and delicate nature of the tea, without proper storage, it could quickly spoil. Once improved production and storage methods were developed, harvesting white tea became accessible to many other regions of the world.

  • Zoe Maiden
  • Tags: History

The History of Black Tea 0

     Black tea, also known as “red tea,” was discovered in China in the mid 17th century. Many years prior, only green and oolong teas were consumed. The story of how black tea came to be is that an army from Jianxi entered the Fujian Province and camped at a nearby tea factory. This unscheduled camping session led to a delay in tea production, and the tea leaves were laid out in the sun for a longer period. The prolonged oxidization caused the tea leaves to turn to a dark red color. To “save” the tea and accelerate the drying process, a farmer placed the leaves over a fire of pine wood, which resulted in a tea that was smoky in flavor. This discovery produced Lapsang Souchong, the original black tea that would soon pave the way for black tea growth in China, and eventually the Western world.

     I mentioned earlier that black tea is also called “red tea.” This is actually China’s name for black tea. Before black tea was established, China already had its tea that they called black tea. This tea is known as Pu-erh tea. Pu-erh tea is a post-fermented tea and comes in both green and black varieties. The Dutch and British traders were the ones who created the label “black tea” for the teas we commonly know as black. In simpler terms, black tea in China is called “red tea,” and black tea in the West is called, “black tea.” Phew!

     Due to the fermentation process, black tea can retain and improve its flavor with age, as well as be preserved for longer periods of time. As you can imagine, this discovery made black tea a hot commodity. When the British traders learned about this tea and its many positive attributes, it was a dream come true, and they purchased all that they could until the market was taken over by the Dutch. This forced the British to explore other ways to acquire black tea and eventually they discovered another category of the Camellia Sinensis plant in India. The teas have a larger harvest at a more cost-effective rate, and the flavor is stronger with much higher levels of caffeine. Teas such as Darjeeling, Earl Grey, and Orange Pekoe were created by British growers in India.

     Similar to the beginnings of green tea in Europe, black tea was sold at very high prices and primarily used by the aristocracy. It became a drink that indicated your wealth and status in society. Princess Catherine introduced black tea to the British palace, and it has become a staple in the life of British royalty ever since. In 1840, the concept of afternoon tea was introduced by duchess Anna Telford. During this time, the prices of black tea became more affordable, and a cup of tea was soon consumed both in the morning and afternoon.

     Today, 90% of all tea sold in the US is black tea. The production of black tea continues to derive from China, India, as well as Sri Lanka and Africa. The accessibility of education and the discoveries of new tea types and arrangements introduces us to the many marvels of black tea. Due to its bold flavor, versatility, and ability to give you a boost of energy, more and more people are falling in love with this “dream tea.”
  • Zoe Maiden
  • Tags: History

The History of Green Tea 0

     The origination of green tea began in China tracing all the way back to 2737 B.C. The discovery occurred by accident when the Chinese Emperor Shennong mistakenly drank water that had a dead tea leaf boiled in it. Emperor Shennong found the flavor incredibly refreshing and thus, a new beverage was created. Green tea was primarily available to the highest tiers of Chinese society and was very expensive to purchase. It was not until the 14th century that green tea became accessible to the general public for enjoyment and medicinal purposes.


     Around 800 A.D., during the Tang Dynasty, an innovative book titled, "Cha Jing," also known as "The Classic of Tea" was written by a Chinese man named Lu Yu. When he was a young boy, Lu Yu was adopted by a Buddhist monk and grew up brewing and serving tea. As he grew older, his interest in tea blossomed and his abilities to make tea improved. He decided to take time away from the outside world to research and write down his findings. His book, "The Classic of Tea" became the first written work to explain the culture and art of green tea. 


     The highly-favored green tea eventually traveled West in the 19th century by European explorers. Due to its incredible flavor, it was a huge commodity and became Great Britain's national beverage, along with black tea. Soon after, green tea made its grand appearance on America when it shipped overseas with the settlers. Fun fact: green tea was called "bullet tea" because it resembled the shape of bullets when shipped. The colonists quickly obsessed over the tea and it became so popular that Parliament imposed a Tea Tax in 1767. As we all know from our history books, the colonists were quite upset, and the Boston Tea Party took place. As a result, 45 tons of precious green tea was dumped into the harbor. 


     In the last few decades, the popularity of green tea has steadily increased. At most coffee and tea shops, one can find numerous green tea beverages ranging from a hot jasmine green tea to an iced matcha latte. In addition to its versatile flavors, many health discoveries are taking place due to its high number of antioxidants. It appears that the more we learn about this amazing tea, the more impressive and beneficial it becomes. 

  • Zoe Maiden
  • Tags: History