Discovery of the World’s Oldest Tea

31 Jan

Archaeologists have discovered a huge stash of the oldest tea in the world buried in the tomb of an ancient Chinese emperor. The tea (pictured right) was badly decomposed, but analysis showed only the finest tips (bottom left) had been picked and buried with the emperor. Similar tea was found in a tomb in Tibet (top left) Archaeologists have uncovered the world’s oldest set of tea leaves from the tomb of an ancient Chinese emperor! 

 Living 2,150 years ago in the Western Han Dynasty, Emperor Jing was a major fan of the delicious drink.  Like all the rest of us tea lovers, Emperor Jing understood the power of the tea leaf and its healing/renewing abilities.  

The collection of tea leaves was 42 feet x 8 inches. That is a major tea haul! If you ever tried drinking tea from leaves rather than a lipton bag, you’ll know that it only takes a small amount to go a long way. This amount probably lasted him a long while in the afterworld!  

This particular type of tea, Camellia Sinesis, comes from a type of small evergreen shrub known as a tea tree. The leaves and buds of the tree are used to create a special, expensive green tea.  There are actually two varieties of the tree–one is used to create the Chinese teas (such as White Tea, Oolong, Pu’er, Green Tea, etc.) and the other is used to create Indian Assam teas. The leaves of the tree have long been applied in Chinese traditional medications and as a caffeine provider.  I’m guessing it was pretty easy to bring the emperor over as a tea supporter🙂

The tomb was located in Xi’an, China. Xi’an is now world-famous due to the discovery of the Terra Cotta army buried under the local hills and is only about an 8 hour drive from where I live!  I’m really excited; maybe I could see this tea pile🙂 Emperor Jing’s tomb contained “50,000” terra cotta animals and statues, along with other great treasures.

The extra amazing thing about the tea beyond its age is the fact that it is some of the earliest proof that researchers have about the Silk Road.  It is believed that the emperor may have traded his tea with Tibet where similar tea remains were found dating not long after.  This shows the the Silk Road probably moved thorugh Tibet at the time.  

Resources:

  1. Daily Mail
  2. Medicine.Net
  3. Wikipedia (Don’t Shoot Me)

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