According to legend, tea was discovered around 2800 BCE when some falling tea leaves landed into drinking water being boiled for Chinese emperor Shen Nung. Thankfully, the emperor found the drink delightfully refreshing. During the The Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), tea was used for medicinal purposes, such as removing toxins from the body, and was prized for its duality as a stimulant and a relaxant. Its ability to simultaneously sharpen concentration while soothing without sedation led to the rise of it becoming a beverage drunk for pleasure on social occasions. Tea was first brought to Europe by the Portuguese, but it was Dutch traders that brought it into high fashion, with prosperous families commonly paying upwards of $100 per pound. It wasn’t until the tea trade expanded that prices lowered enough to allow tea to make its way down the social ladder in England. Today, black tea is the second most consumed beverage worldwide, only behind water.
In North America, tea has seen both increases and decreases in popularity over the years. During the 1760’s British/American colonists drank over 1 million pounds of tea a year; in 1768 alone the colonists drank almost 2 million pounds of tea! Surprisingly over 90% of the tea that was drunk in the colonies was smuggled in, possibly due to British taxes on the product. In 1773, with the passage of the Tea Act by Parliament, there was a huge shift in tea consumption in the colonies. In the years to follow there were boycotts on tea sold by the British East India Company, the Boston Tea Party, and eventually the Revolutionary War; during this time many Americans switched from drinking tea to drinking coffee, considering tea drinking to be unpatriotic. Eventually tea came back into fashion in America, with some of its most notable modern innovations happening there in the early 20th century (iced tea in 1904 and the tea bag in 1908).
These tea blends are custom made for Historic Jamestowne and hand packaged by Oliver Pluff & Co. in Charleston, South Carolina. Each tin has a three year shelf life.