The history of tea dates back to ancient China, almost 5,000 years ago. According to legend, in 2732 B.C. Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea when leaves from a wild tree blew into his pot of boiling water. He was immediately interested in the pleasant scent of the resulting brew, and drank some.
However historical records indicate the prevalence of tea drinking in India since 750 BC. In the 16th century, a vegetable dish was also being prepared using tea leaves with garlic and oil. However, the credit for rediscovering tea and cultivating it at a commercial level goes to the British.
The British consumed tea in enormous quantities in India, which they bought from China. By 1750, they were purchasing millions of pounds of tea every year from China. Even though they managed to counterbalance it with opium trade to some extent, they found that their tea consumption was exorbitantly expensive and unsustainable. This realization led to a sustained effort by the British to understand tea production – and start tea cultivation in India.