"The State of The World" Number 28
Complete Index Of All Issues
For All The Tea In China
"For all the tea in China," or more specifically, "Not for all the tea in China" is a saying that originated around 1900 as a means of emphasizing a refusal. "Not for all of the money in the world" would be an equivalent, and for good reason.
Tea originated in ancient China, where it was first used as a medicinal plant (notice that the illustration of the tea plant shown below is from Kohler's Medicinal Plants, an abbreviated title from the original German Medizinal-Pflanzen in naturgetreuen Abbildungen mit kurz erlauterndem Texte : Atlas zur Pharmacopoea), but later became a popular recreational or meal-time beverage that was adopted across the ancient world through free trade (see also What Really Happens In A Trade War?).
The earliest evidence of tea use in China was found by archaeologists only recently in the tomb of Emperor Jing of the Han Dynasty of the 2nd century BC. Tea was a "Chinese drink" for centuries before other nations discovered it through travel and trade.
Chinese tea became available in Europe in the 16th Century. Tea became popular in Britain about a century later, after which the British began growing tea in India to avoid what was regarded as a centuries-old monopoly on fine tea. The English word "tea" originated however from the ancient Chinese word for tea that was pronounced with that same sound.
Numerous varieties and blends of tea have developed over the centuries. The primary difference in color is a result of varying processing methods and their timing after the leaves are harvested.
Today, tea is second only to plain water as the most consumed drink in the world