Tea Time Line
Beatrice Hohenegger tells us about tea in her 2007 book Liquid Jade, The Story of Tea from East To West
AD 520 Bodhidarma, a Buddhist priest from India, is said to have visited the Emperor of China. Credited as China’s patriarch of Buddhism, Bodhidarma’s life is clad with legend, particularly related to long periods of meditation. Portrayed without eyelids, he is said to have cut them out and cast them to the ground, at which point a tea bush appeared. The story commemorates the importance of tea in wakefulness, and images of an unblinking Bodhidarma tie tea and zen together.
780 Lu Yu, the Tea Sage, authored Ch’a-ching (The Classic of Tea), thought to be the first significant treatment on tea. Born in 733, Hupeh Province, China, Lu Yu is said to have grown up in the Dragon Cloud Monastery.
1559 Perhaps the first mention of tea in western literature, by Italian geographer & author Giambattista Ramusio (1485-1557), in Navigazioni et viaggi.
1582 Rikyu (1522 -1591) consolidated the way of tea with construction of the Taian hut for Japan’s ruler, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598).
1610 First apparent importation of tea to Europe.
1648 French doctor Guy Patin (1601-1672) was critical of a thesis on tea, stating: “One of our doctors who is more celebrated than able, named Morissot, wanting to bestow favor upon that impertinent novelty of the century… has had presented here a thesis on tea. Everyone disapproved, some of our doctors burned it….”
1660 Diarist Samuel Pepys (1633-1673) records on 25 September his first taste of tea, ordered at one of the many coffeehouses of London where tea was first served to the English. Coffeehouses were still new, the first one having just opened ten years prior, and served coffee, tea, and chocolate.
1660 Under Charles II, (1630-1685) England established an excise tax of 8 pence on each gallon of tea that was sold. The tax would eventually be levied on tea leaf, as it was too easy for merchants to manipulate the numbers.
1665 Simon Paulli (1603-1680), a German physician, claimed: “As to the virtues they attribute to it (tea), it may be admitted that it does possess them in the Orient, but it loses them in our climate, where it becomes, on the contrary, very dangerous to use. It hastens the death of those who use it…”
1667 The English East India Company, having begun importing tea in 1664, gained a monopoly when the English government declared Dutch imports illegal.
1670 Thomas Garaway (1632-1704). opened a shop where tea was served until its closing two hundred years later. Garaway had actively advertised and promoted tea for a decade, stating “that the Vertues and Excellencies of this Leaf and Drink are many and great is evident and manifest by the high esteem and use of it … among the Physitians and knowing men in France, Italy, Holland and other parts of Christendom.”
1683 Dutchman, Cornelius Decker (aka Dr. Bontekoe) ((1648-1685) commented: “It must be a considerable and obstinate fever that cannot be cured by drinking every day forty to fifty cups of tea..”
January 1774 London learns of the destruction of the tea, and of other American protests
March 1774 Parliament passes the first of the so-called Coerciver Acts, the Boston Port Act, which closes the port of Boston until the town makes restitution for the tea
May 1774 Parliament passes two more laws for restoring order in Massachusetts. These laws limit town meetings, put the provincial council under royal appointments, and allow British civil officers accused of capital crimes to move their trials to other jurisdictions
1 June 1774 The Boston Port Act takes effect, and Governor Thomas Hutchinson departs for England, never to return. His replacement is General Thomas Gage, a military commander
Summer 1774 Massachusetts protesters resist the Coercive Acts by disrupting local courts and forcing councillors to resign their seats
September to October 1774 The First Continental Congress meets, declares opposition to the Coercive Acts, and calls for boycotts of British goods and an embargo on exports to Great Britain
February 1775 Parliament declares Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion. Governor Gage will later receive orders to enforce the Coercive Acts and suppress the uprising
19 April 1775 British regular troops and Massachusetts militiamen exchange fire at Lexington and Concord. In response, armed New Englanders surround the British fortifications at Boston
March 1776 American forces take Dorchester Heights and the British evacuate Boston
July 1776 The Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence of the United States