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Image: Tea © Helen Espir

Tea

Tea in Chinese script

Camellia sinensis

Green tea, black tea and oolong (used in most Chinese restaurants) are all made from the young leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush, which comes originally from south-east China. The difference is in the processing.

According to Chinese mythology, tea was discovered accidentally in 2737 BC by Emperor Shen Nong, when leaves from a tea plant dropped into water he was boiling to drink. Tradition says that tea has been cultivated in China ever since.

Today there are hillside tea plantations across China, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Indonesia and East Africa, each region producing its own unique flavour. The British have been drinking tea for about 350 years.

Back to the list of plants and objects in China Landscape

This teapot was found near the wreck of a Dutch ship that sank in 1752. It was bringing silk and tea to Europe, and carrying porcelain as ballast. Tea pickers


Left: This teapot was found near the wreck of a Dutch ship that sank in 1752. It was bringing silk and tea to Europe, and carrying porcelain as ballast.

Right: Tea pickers

Top left: Tea © Helen Espir