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Tea has found a permanent place in the lives and hearts of diverse peoples the world over, and spread cheer and camaraderie for over 4500 years. Poets and philosophers have lavished praise on it, and perhaps no other beverage has been the object of such ritual and ceremony across the planet. Today, over 3 billion cups of tea are consumed every day across the globe, making it the most popular and cheapest drink in the world after water. Its fragrance, flavour and gentle aroma generate a sense of pleasure, well-being, and fellowship across the world, round the clock.

There is a mystique about the origin of tea. It is commonly believed that Tea was discovered by accident by the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung in 2737 BC. While boiling water, some leaves had accidentally fallen into the water. When the Emperor drank the water with the tea leaves in it, he found that it quenched his thirst and that it had invigorating qualities.

It is known that the first tea ever was green and that, in spite of ancient tea customs, black tea did not exist until as late as 780 B.C. Although it is hard to believe, nobody knows for sure where black tea originated. It is assumed that black tea came from China and it is probable that it was created while fermenting green tea in the search for new and refined variations - they certainly knew how to ferment. It remained, however, of little importance until it was rediscovered and cultivated in India. China and India are the only two countries with indigenous tea plants.

Tea is much like wine. It is the way it is produced, when it is harvested and the shape of the leaf that give tea its characteristic flavour. Soil and climate also help to form its character. Exquisite teas are grown where both special climatic conditions and highly developed methods of cultivation meet. There are only a handful of countries in the whole world that can meet this criteria : India with Assam and Darjeeling, Ceylon, China, Japan and Kenya.

 
 

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