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The Spread of Chinese Tea to the West

The spread of Chinese tea to the West largely underwent three periods.

The first period was during the Yuan Dynasty, when the West was forced to accept tea.

In the early part of the Yuan Dynasty, Genghis Khan and Hubilie mounted a large scale expedition. Since Mongolia was very early the transport station for the tea of the Central Plains to spread to the Central and West Asia, the Mongols cannot have gone without taking milky tea with them far to Europe via West Asia on this expedition. Eastern Europe probably got information about Chinese tea in this period, and it is likely that the expedition was collected to the fact that Russians imported tea from China later.

Naturally, there were some who gained information about Chinese tea on their own initiative. Chinese tea was seen in Western records in the Yuan Dynasty. Marco Polo, a famous Italian envoy as well as a friend of the Chinese people, came to China with his uncle from the north, traveling through Central Asia, Xingjiang, the northwest grasslands, Shangdu and Dadu. He stayed in China for more than ten years, and served as an official. At that time, people kept tea cakes, which had been used since the Tang and Song dynasties, as well as loose tea and the skill of stirring tea-Marco Polo, who maintained frequent contacts with the Chinese people, cannot have been unaware of their custom of drinking tea. Over ten years later, he returned to his country as an envoy of the Yuan government This time he made his way from the south, traveling through the tea towns south of the Yangtze River, the countries of South Asia, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean. It is unknown whether he presented tea as gifts to the countries he traveled. However, according to the Travels of Marco Polo, which he wrote after he returned to his country, he took from China porcelain, macaroni and tea. The book was a sensation in the West, and Chinese tea has become a desired item among Europeans since then.

The second period was the Ming Dynasty, about the 16th century, when Chinese tea was exported on a small scale and was gradually spread abroad.

Russians got Chinese tea first In 1567, when Emperor Muzong of the Ming Dynasty ascended the throne, two men from imperial Russia were said to have got Chinese tea and introduced it into Russia. In 1618, the Chinese ambassador in Russia presented a small amount of tea to the tsar. In 1735, the private trade caravans established during the reign of Empress Elizabeth traveled between China and Russia, and specially conveyed tea for the royal family, nobles and officials. Owing t? the arduous transportation, the tea was expensive.

After the travels of Marco Palo, the European documents during the reign of Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty officially recorded tea drinking in China. At that time Lamaswar, a famous Venetian writer, wrote about his voyage and tea. Another book was titled Chinese Tea. From this period, the knowledge about tea drinking spread fully to Europe. Later, a Portuguese Catholic, wrote about Chinese tea in Portuguese after he returned to his country from China.

The third period was the period when Chinese tea was exported on a large scale and the tea trade gradually expanded.

After the travels of Marco Palo, the European documents during the reign of Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty officially recorded tea drinking in China. At that time Lamaswar, a famous Venetian writer, wrote about his voyage and tea. Another book was titled Chinese Tea. From this period, the knowledge about tea drinking spread fully to Europe. Later, a Portuguese Catholic, wrote about Chinese tea in Portuguese after he returned to his country from China.

The third period was the period when Chinese tea was exported on a large scale and the tea trade gradually expanded.

The first period, accompanied by the rise of capitalism and the adoption of the colonial policy, was really created by the East India Company, which was set up in Holland in 1606. In 1607, Dutch ships reached Java, a Dutch colony. They arrived later in Macao, China, to carry green tea, and then returned to Europe in 1610. This was the beginning of Westners transporting tea from their colonies in the east, and the start of the importation of tea from China to Western Europe. In 1637, ships of the British East India Company transported tea from Guangzhou, China. At the same time, the tea business between China and Britain started. Sweden, Holland, Denmark, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Hungary and some countries later transported a huge amount of tea from China each year.

When tea was first taken to Europe, people did not know it vary well. Many people still took a skeptical attitude towards tea until the 18th century when coffee began to be introduced into Europe; people had different views on the two new drinks. Tradition says that to get to the bottom of the matter, the Swedish King managed to find twin convicts sentenced to death to test whether tea and coffee did harm to peopled health. The king said that if they agreed to test, they could be pardoned. Considering that they were likely to survive after the test, the twins agreed. Thus, every day one of them had several coffees, and the other drank several cups of tea. The test achieved an unprecedented success. The twin brothers lived many years without any trouble, and the twin who drank tea died at the age of 83. In this way, Chinese tea was finally accepted throughout Europe.