Archaeologists Have Discovered World’s Oldest Tea

January 13, 2016

Archaeologists have discovered the world’s oldest tea from among the treasures buried along with a Chinese emperor who ruled more than 2150 years ago.

The new discovery was made by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

A large packet of tea stashed away in the tomb of Emperor Jing of Han – personal name Liu Qi – of the Chinese Han dynasty was recovered by archaeologists. Scientific research shows Emperor Jing, the fourth emperor of the Western Han Dynasty enjoyed the drink so much that he wanted to be buried with tea leaves.

This also provides some of the earliest evidence for the ancient Silk Road trade route that grew to stretch across Asia from China to Europe, according to the Independent.

The research has been published in Nature’s online open access journal Scientific Reports. So far, no tea of that antiquity has ever been found, the Independent reported. However, there is an ancient Chinese text that claimed China was exporting tea leaves to Tibet thousands of years ago.

“The discovery shows how modern science can reveal important previously unknown details about ancient Chinese culture. The identification of the tea found in the emperor’s tomb complex gives us a rare glimpse into very ancient traditions which shed light on the origins of one of the world’s favourite beverages,” said Professor Dorian Fuller, Director of the International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology, based in UCL, London.

Since the emperor died in 141 BC, the tea dates back to around that year. Along with tea packets, other items were also discovered from the tomb.

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