You can’t explore tea without revisiting some of the world history taught in grade school. Crafting, steeping, enjoying, revering tea goes back a long time…most sources say 5,000 years. Although to be fair, the first 3,000 years it was supposed to be used more medicinally.
When I first starting studying tea with Specialty Tea Institute, I was amazed how much tea has influenced events since 1600AD: the Dutch, Portuguese, and British trade with Asia; the wealth and power created in the European nations because of tea trade; the demographic changes in India as the British created a tea industry there; and the development of shipping and transport throughout the world. There were other commodities involved in all of this (like opium), but tea played a huge part.
One of my favorite books about tea is Beatrice Hoenegger’s Liquid Jade. She does a fabulous job of laying out the historical journey of tea and how it made its way through the world—no matter what your interests—it’s an entertaining read.