Tea originates from China where they drink it for already thousands of years. It’s not possible to precisely determine how tea was invented and who did it. But this is what we know about it. The most widely accepted tradition speaks of Emperor Shen Nong, who lived between 2737 and 2698 before Chr. Shen Nong is in de Chinese mythology also known as the Divine Farmer. He is considered as the inventor of agriculture and would have been the first who applied the technique of ploughing. He also was a scientist and a herbal expert. With that capacity, he discovered the health benefits of tea. In the tradition he would have discovered tea accidentally because the leaves of a tea bush accidentally swerved into a cauldron of boiling water. And as curious as he was he tasted the drink he made by accident and that’s how he found out it’s possible to drink tea with the tea leaves.


In the first centuries of tea is mainly used as a digestive aid and ointments. During the period of the Han Dynasty (202-220 after Chr.) the tea was getting more popular as we know it nowadays. Throughout the centuries following, the production and the processing of tea leaves is further refined, and is also built up tea culture in Japan. However, it wasn’t until 1559 that they started making its first appearance in Western literature. Giambattista Ramusio (1485-1557) wrote his ‘Delle Navigatione et Viaggi’ a drink called Chai Catai that the Persian salesman Hajji Mohammed brought to Venice. The drink was made from a herb and used as a medicine for stomach cramps. Only in 1606 a small amount of tea was brought from Java to the Netherlands. After that it took until 1630 before tea gained more interests for a small part of the Dutch people. Then slowly there was a little bit attention for tea spread to the rest of Europe. About halfway trough the seventeenth century tea was especially a treat for the wealthy, but became over time also popular with the general public.


In the centuries that followed, European countries colonized large parts of Asia. In particular the British, they took the tea production and started leading huge tea plantations. In the mid-nineteenth century the tea was brought into Europe in  large quantities where is was distributed over all social classes. Throughout the twentieth century the interest in tea suddenly took off. The two world wars brought changes in social patterns. From the 50s of last century American fast-food restaurants and coffee bars were opened, which supplanted the tearooms. Only since the 80s, the interest in tea increases again which brings us to today. Tea is back! The so-called ‘High tea’ is very popular in many places in any city. The number of teas and consumption of quality excellence loose tea is exploding. And for that you’re at the right place at TWELVET.