Mother Nature's Tea Garden
Mother Nature's original tea garden was located in the monsoon district of southeastern Asia. Many other plants now grow there, but specimens of the original jungle, or wild, tea plant are still to be found in the forests of the Shan States of northern Siam, eastern Burma, Yunnan, Upper Indo-China, and British India. Consequently the tea plant may be said to be indigenous to that portion of Southeast Asia which includes China and India. The political boundaries of the various countries where wild tea has been found are purely imaginary lines which men have traced to mark the states India, Burma, Siam, Yunnan, and Indo-China. Before any thought was given to dividing this land into separate states, it consisted of one primeval tea garden where the conditions of soil, climate and rainfall were happily combined to promote the natural propagation of Tea.
Contemporary Chinese records establish that tea cultivation began in the interior province of Szechwan about AD 350, gradually extending down the Yangtze valley to the seaboard provinces. The author of the Ch'a P'u, however writing at a much later date, A.D. 1368-1628 assigns the first discovery of tea to the Bohea Hills, partly in deference to prevailing popular opinion and partly, perhaps to give greater eclat to his story by connecting it with one of the most celebrated and widely known tea districts in China.
| Tea grows in the jungle
|| "Wild" tea specimens in the jungle|
Early legends, thought to be inspired by Buddhist priests, relate that monkeys were used to gather the tea leaves from inaccessible places. Sometimes they were trained for the work; or, when seen amongst the rocks where the tea bushes grown, the Chinamen would throw stones at them. The monkeys, becoming angry would break off branches of the tea bushes and throw them down at their tormentors.
After the cultivation of tea had spread through the provinces, it came to the attention of travelers from other shores, and China became the fountainhead whence tea culture spread to other countries. The first of these was Japan.
From Volume I of All About Tea, by William H. Ukers, published in 1935 by the Tea and Coffee Trade Journal Company.
One-Minute Tea Tip, 2000