Tea is relaxing and refreshing whether it is hot or cold. However, have you ever wondered who first thought of the various methods for brewing and serving tea? Well tea drinks have a long and colorful past that circumnavigates the globe.
Brewed tea, or hot tea, is suspected to have originated in China. There is documentation that proves that tea was brewed and consumed as a refreshing beverage prior to 4700 B.C. In fact, an early Chinese emperor, Shen Nung, is often credited with inventing hot tea. This discovery is fabled to have occurred when he noticed that tea leaves that had fallen into a pot of boiling water produced a liquid that smelled enticing and that tasted even better. Further evidence shows that the English word "tea" derives from the Amoy Chinese term te (tay), which also means tea. Also the Mandarin word for tea, cha, is most likely where chai (an Indian tea) derived.
While brewed hot tea has a very long history, iced tea is a somewhat newer invention. In 19th century America, tea punches were often served as a summer refreshment. These punches were made by mixing various liqueurs with cooled brewed tea. In 1904 at the St. Louis World's Fair, Richard Blechynden introduced the world to what we now consider iced tea. Tea that is brewed, cooled and iced for a refreshing summer beverage.
The Tea Bag
Another advancement in tea development occurred in the early part of the 1900s when the tea bag was invented. Officially a patent for a fabric tea bag was filed in 1903, but it was not until 1904 to 1908 that tea bags were introduced to the public. This invention made tea vending a lot less expensive and brewing tea a lot more convenient. You now no longer needed to use a tea infuser or other metallic devices to steep tea, and you no longer needed to worry about tea leaves and other plant parts floating in your beverage.
Today tea is as popular as ever as a beverage. In the North, people drink tea that is more bitter, and in the South, it is served sweet. To accommodate the difference in regional taste buds, dozens of tea flavors are now available in mixes, in tea bags and in bulk.