World’s oldest tea buried with ancient Chinese emperor

According to the report of Reference News on January 12th, media says that archeologists have discovered the oldest tea in the world among the treasures buried with a Chinese emperor.

Based on the report of British Independent Website on January 11th, New Scientific evidence suggests that ancient Chinese royals were partial to a cup of tea – at least 2150 years ago. This research has been published on Scientific Report, an online, open access journal from the publisher of Nature.

Indeed, they seem to have liked it so much that they insisted on being buried with it – so they could enjoy a cup of tea in the next world.

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

By examining tiny crystals trapped between hairs on the surface of the leaves and by using mass spectrometry, they were able to work out that the leaves, buried with a mid-second century BC Chinese emperor, were actually tea.

The scientific analysis of the food and other sacrificing in the Emperor’s tomb complex have also revealed that, as well as tea, he was determined to take millet, rice and chenopod with him to the another world.

The Emperor, also a tea lover – the Han Dynasty Emperor Jing Di – died in 141 BC. Thus the tea dates from around that year. Buried in a wooden box, it was among a huge number of items interred in a series of pits around the Emperor’s tomb complex for his use in another world.

The report says, the tomb located near the Emperor Jing Di’s capital Chang’an (Now Xi’an), is now open to the public. Although the site was excavated back in the 1990s, it is only now that scientific examination of the organic finds has identified the tea leaves.

The tea-drinking emperor himself was an important figure in early Chinese history. Often buffeted by intrigue and treachery, he was nevertheless an unusually enlightened and liberal ruler. He was determined to give his people a better standard of living and therefore massively reduced their tax burden. He also ordered that criminals should be treated more humanely – and that sentences should be reduced. What’s more, he successfully reduced the power of the aristocracy.

The discovery shows how modern science can reveal important details about ancient Chinese culture, which is previously unknown. 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 favorite beverages,” said Professor Dorian Fuller, Director of the International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology, based in UCL, London.

The report also says that the tea discovered in the Emperor’s tomb seems to have been of the finest quality, consisting solely the tea buds – the small unopened leaves of the tea plant, usually considered to be of superior quality to ordinary tea leaves.