Tea History

Chinese Tea History

It is a sheer pleasure to speak about the history of tea. Part of this history goes far beyond the scopes of the comprehensible past and relates rather to the mythological times than to history. This means that those crumbs of legends that came to us from Ancient China can be turned into impressive narrative rich in dramatic tension but with a happy ending. It is only natural that tea dealers (and the Chinese in the first place) practice such myth-making most actively.


Russian Tea History

In 1567, Cossack atamans (chieftains), Petrov and Yalyshev, visited China, where they tried a local drink — tea. In 1638, an ambassador, Vasily Starkov, brought a present to the Russian Tsar from one of the Mongol khans — 64 kg of tea. In 1665, when the Tsar Alexey Mikhaylovich got stomach aches, the court doctor, Samoylo Kallins, treated him with tea. In 1728, between the Kyakhta River and Mount Oratoga (Siberia) settlement Kyakhta appeared, which later developed into a city and became the centre of the Russian-Chinese trade. In 1763, in Kyakhta, the fair was established; there Russian and Chinese merchants cheated each other without losing mutual respect. Russia got most of Chinese tea through this very fair — tsybiki (tea chests for 25-35 kilos of tea) with tea were brought to the European part of Russia on sleigh…


English Tea History

Many stories end with a marriage, this story is different. It starts with a marriage… In 1662, Prince Charles II married the Portuguese Princess, Catherine of Braganza. The princess was very fond of tea and accustomed her royal spouse to this new drink. I must say that tea was familiar to the English before the marriage of the high-standing persons; Garway's Coffee House, for example, traded in tea in London since 1657. However, tea was mostly known as a medicinal drink, and was much less popular than coffee.


Japanese Tea History

Interest in the Japanese culture (together with respect and often some perplexity) arose in Russia after the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). This interest has wonderfully developed over the past century — one can remember Alexander Nevsky, whose books are still used by Japanese students, and hazardous Far-Eastern crab-catching, and Tom Cruise, who is not the last samurai, as it appeared.


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