In the Hills of South China.... Almost 5,000 years ago, around 2700 BCE, legend holds that the agriculture god Shen Nong discovered tea when some leaves from the majestic bush dropped into his pot of boiling water. Native to the ancient kingdoms of Shu and Ba, tea began its integral place in Chinese culture as a local medicinal beverage. Around 200 CE, however, tea became a daily drink for many Chinese, and over time it spread, gaining political, economic, and cultural significance for producers and consumers throughout the world.
Tea was not introduced to European society until 1560. At this time Father Jasper de Cruz, a Portuguese missionary, returned from his voyage to China with marvelous reviews about a medicinal beverage, known as tea. Trading ties were quickly established between China and the Portuguese empire, and tea was imported to Holland, France, and the Baltic. However, large scale tea trade did not truly begin until 1610 after Holland had separated from Portugal and formed the Dutch East India Company (1602). The Dutch East India Company and its British counterpart, the English East India Company, would go on to spread tea throughout the world and radically change society as a whole with this new miracle drink.