Tea is an aromatic beverage commonly
prepared by pouring boiling hot water over cured
leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The term
also refers to the plant itself. After water, tea
is the most widely consumed beverage in the world.
It has a cooling, slightly bitter, astringent flavour
which many people enjoy.
Consumption of tea (especially green) is beneficial
to health and longevity given its antioxidant, flavanols,
flavonoids, polyphenols, and catechins content.
Tea catechins have known anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective
activities, help to regulate food intake, and have
an affinity for cannabinoid receptors, which may
suppress pain, nausea, and provide calming effects.
Consumption of green tea is associated with a lower
risk of diseases that cause functional disability,
such as “stroke, cognitive impairment, and
osteoporosis” in the elderly.
Tea contains L-theanine, and its consumption is
strongly associated with a calm but alert and focused,
relatively productive (alpha wave dominant), mental
state in humans. This mental state is also common
to meditative practice.
The phrase herbal tea usually refers to infusions
of fruit or herbs made without the tea plant, such
as rosehip tea or chamomile tea. Alternative phrases
for this are tisane or herbal infusion, both bearing
an implied contrast with "tea" as it is
Tea plants are native to East and South Asia and
probably originated around the point of confluence
of the lands of northeast India, north Burma and
Although there are tales of tea's first use as a
beverage, no one is sure of its exact origins. The
first recorded drinking of tea is in China, with
the earliest records of tea consumption dating back
to the 10th century BC. It was already a common
drink during the Qin Dynasty (3rd century BC) and
became widely popular during the Tang Dynasty, when
it was spread to Korea and Japan. Trade of tea by
the Chinese to Western nations in the 19th century
spread tea and the tea plant to numerous locations
around the world.
Tea was imported to Europe during the Portuguese
expansion of the 16th century, at which time it
was termed chá. In 1750, tea experts traveled
from China to the Azores Islands, and planted tea,
along with jasmines and mallows, to give the tea
aroma and distinction. Both green tea and black
tea continue to grow in the islands, which are the
main suppliers to continental Portugal. Catherine
of Braganza, wife of Charles II, took the tea habit
to Great Britain around 1660, but it was not until
the 19th century that tea became as widely consumed
in Britain as it is today. In Ireland, tea had become
an everyday beverage for all levels of society by
the late 19th century, but it was first consumed
as a luxury item on special occasion such as religious
festivals, wakes, and domestic work gatherings such