Where Does Tea Come From?

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Tea leaves on a tea plant. Tea has been grown and consumed by people for thousands of years, and is a popular drink in virtually all societies today.

Tea may seem to be all around us and a common beverage, but it wasn’t always this way!  Have you ever stopped and thought about where this wonderful beverage has its roots?

In this article, we explore the origins of tea, and how it came to be the beverage of choice in some places.


Origins: Where Tea Began


You’d think that a drink as wonderful and popular as tea would have very clear-cut, universally-accepted origins, but it’s not so simple!  For years, both China and India claimed they were the birthplace of tea.  Both countries have rich and ancient tea cultures, and have world-renowned tea-producing regions that have honed their production methods for centuries.




These days, modern scientific evidence has led the wider community to agree that the tea plant is native to the south-eastern mountainous provinces of China.  It’s also now widely regarded to be the area where tea was first steeped as a drink.  From this region of China the act of tea-drinking steadily caught on.

During the middle ages, the ancient trade routes through Asia to the Middle East were the main corridors through which tea would be traded.  From the tea-producing regions in China and India the tea would make it’s way through central Asia into Persia and the Middle East.  Merchants would then continue the tea trade into Europe and Northern Africa.  Through each region we see variations in the way the society prepared and consumed their teas.  Different types of teas began to become engrained in the cultures of these different regions.


By Lucyin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Today, we see tea enjoyed across almost every culture and region of the world.  Everyone has their favourite kind and their own personal tea ritual, it seems!  Next to plain water, tea is the most-consumed beverage in the world, making it the most popular prepared drink on the planet.  When you also factor in herbal drinks and new modern blends of tea, the sheer amount of combinations and choices one can make for their ideal cup of tea is astounding!  Tea can be humble and down-to-earth, elegant and cultured, and increasingly we are seeing tea being synonymous with healthy, trendy, and modern.




Tea has come a long way since it’s beginnings thousands of years ago in the mountains of Southern China.  It truly is a drink steeped in culture and tradition.  At the same time, tea is being discovered and appreciated anew again and again, by so many people today.  Who knows what’s in store for tea culture and the way we drink it in the years ahead!