When did people start drinking Tea?

We all enjoy tea as a drink. The leaves of the tea plant are used to make tea. Do you know where and when people started drinking tea?
Actually, about 4000 years ago, people started drinking tea in China. Then about 300 years ago, it was introduced in Europe. Tea became very popular in North America and Europe in the 18th century. Thus, the tea trade with China prospered.

When the British came to India, they found tea plants in Assam. The tea prepared from Indian tea leaves had a better taste. Slowly, large agricultural estates were established, first in India and then in Ceylon. Tea is also grown in Sumatra, Java and Formosa. There are two main types of tea plants. In China, the tea plant grows up to a height of only one metre, whereas in India the tea plants grow up to a height of over six metres.

Now the question arises, how do you get tea from its plants? The leaves of the tea plant are plucked for the first time when the plant is three years old. Generally the plucking of tea leaves is done by women. They pluck the small leaves and buds from the plants and collect them in the baskets hanging on their backs. Two types of tea leaves i.e. green and black are prepared from these leaves. The leaves are pressed, dried and packed. For preparing black tea, the leaves are put in a vessel for two days and then pressed between rollers and left there for fermentation. It changes the colour and smell of the leaves. Next, the leaves are heated and again pressed between the rollers. Then they are placed in the hot rooms for drying. Tea plants are mainly grown in India, Burma, Ceylon, and China and in some other countries of South East Asia. In India, Assam, Darjeeling, Kumaon, and Kashmir are famous places for the tea gardens. India exports tea to other countries. England consumes the most tea in the world.

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