As the second most consumed beverage in the world, tea certainly deserves a nod to its long and mystical history. The story of tea is complex and spans thousands of years across numerous cultures. We've highlighted some of tea's most significant moments, from its origins to Red Rose's innovation in packaging tea. See how the story of tea has unfolded!

The Origin of Tea

According to Chinese legend, sometime around 2737BC Shennong, a Chinese Emperor considered to be the father of ancient Chinese medicine, was drinking a bowl of boiled water when leaves from a nearby tree blew into his water, changing its color. The curious Emperor noted a delightful aroma and upon sipping the beverage, proclaimed it heaven sent.

There are many legends and stories about how tea was born, but one thing we do know is that tea originated in China, most likely as a medicinal drink during the Shang dynasty. Tea quickly migrated to Japan, which developed its own rich cultural traditions surrounding tea. However, it was thousands of years later when tea finally made its way to Russia and Western Europe - more or less by accident!

Tea Travels Beyond China

Since the first documented cup of tea was poured nearly five thousand years ago, it has spread across land and sea, enchanting every culture that discovers it.

Tea didn't make its venture from the east until the 1550's when a European missionary visiting China brought this beverage back from his journey to Portugal. This ultimately became a trade route where tea was shipped directly from China to Lisbon. The Dutch later repeated this - shipping tea to Holland, France and more famously, England. These routes ultimately became the East India Company, initially formed to share in the East Indian spice trade. When England defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588, the monopoly that had been formed by Spain and Portugal on these routes was finally broken, giving England the chance to own all trade routes in the East Indies and China, where a new monopoly was forged, including the trade and taxation of tea.

Did You Know?

Black tea in the United States is called ‘Red Tea' in China.

England Revolutionizes Tea Time

In 1721 the East India Company was granted a monopoly on all teas imported to the British Empire. From afternoon tea parties to lavish tea dances and gardens, the British certainly enjoyed their tea, which quickly became a social ritual. Though only the upper echelon could afford the high prices of tea at the time, we owe our thanks to Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, for the tradition of ‘afternoon tea' and what the British now call ‘tea time'. Colonists in the New World also enjoyed a tea-drinking habit, but with the heavy tax placed on tea by the British Empire, uprisings and protests became more frequent, leading up to the American Revolutionary War in 1775.

The Boston Tea Party

Believe it or not, tea actually had something to do with the birth of The United States! The Boston Tea Party is an event famously known for triggering the American Revolutionary War, which ultimately led to American Independence from Great Britain. It began when King George III placed an unfair tax on tea used by the new world colonists. A secret society (known as the Sons of Liberty) became outraged, protesting “taxation without representation” and did not allow the tea to be unloaded. One night in December, they dressed as American Indians and snuck onto the East India Company ships, throwing more than 300 chests of tea overboard into the Boston Harbor. The rest is history!

Did You Know?

Over 1.42 million pounds of tea are consumed in the U.S. every day.

Red Rose's Tea Bag Innovations

Red Rose is proud to have contributed a beneficial chapter in the story of tea. Amazingly enough, before Theodore Harding Estabrooks founded Red Rose Tea, local merchants were only able to sell loose leaf tea out of chests, and because of this, the quality of each cup of tea varied greatly. The ingenious Mr. Estabrooks saw the need to produce and pack a quality blended tea that was consistent from cup to cup, and thanks to his efforts the tea bag as we know it today was born. Mr. Estabrooks' innovation allowed tea lovers everywhere to enjoy the same quality of tea in every package - a Red Rose tradition that continues to this day.

Red Rose Tea was initially sold in the Atlantic provinces of Canada and a few cities in the United States near the Canadian border in the 1920's. The brand flourished in England through the 1930's under the representation of Brooke Bond and Company and PG Tips, which ultimately led to the global expansion of Red Rose Tea.

Today, Red Rose is blended with the same care that Theodore Harding Estabrooks established more than a century ago, and we maintain that pride and passion each day to bring you the highest quality tea at an affordable price. You'll certainly feel the love in every cup with Red Rose!

Did You Know?

Tea bags and iced tea were both invented in the United States.