Later in 1000BC, it was written that tea was brought as a tribute to King Wu of Zhou and by the 1st Century AD, tea had become an important part of everyday life, considered to be one of the seven essential commodities (along with firewood, vinegar, rice, oil, sauce and salt). Indeed, Lu Yu, writer of the first book dedicated entirely to tea, described it as "the dew of Heaven".
From then on, the tea trade became increasingly important, and by the 13th Century Yunnan merchants were bartering Pu’er tea bricks for horses from Genghis Khan’s Mongols through to Burma and beyond.
In the early 17th Century, the Portuguese and Dutch traders popularised tea in Europe. In the 18th Century, Britain’s East India Company was so successful that tea had become the new breakfast drink of choice, replacing gin and ale!
Driven by this great popularity, the 19th Century saw the building of the tea clippers, including the famous Cutty Sark. These elegant ships, built for speed, halved the time it took to get tea back from the East.
The great English tradition, Afternoon Tea, was introduced in the early 1800s by Anna, wife of the Duke of Bedford, because she felt hungry between lunch and dinner.
By the 1930s, almost every family was enjoying tea at breakfast. Today, in Britain we drink more tea than any other beverage. However, people are being more adventurous, increasingly drinking the better quality and purer teas.