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2,150-year-old tea leaves found in Chinese royal tomb


Chinese archaeologists have discovered the world's oldest tea in the tomb of an emperor who ruled more than 2,100 years ago.

2,150-year-old tea leaves found in Chinese royal tomb
Emperor Jing was the fourth ruler in the Western Han Dynasty 
[Credit: WikiCommons]
Excavation of the burial site of Emperor Jing of the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD) in northwest China's Shaanxi Province began in 1998, but it has taken researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences until now to confirm that carbonized organic matter in the tomb was in fact tea.

2,150-year-old tea leaves found in Chinese royal tomb
The tea leaves are found and identified in the ancient tomb back in 141 BC 
[Credit: Houyouan Lu et al., Scientific Reports]
They also found pottery figurines, bronze seals, rice and millet in the tomb, according to their research, published in Nature's online journal Scientific Reports.

2,150-year-old tea leaves found in Chinese royal tomb
Human figures buried in the tea-drinking emperor, Jing Di tomb complex near Xian [Credit: Xinhua]
Tea originated in China and was popularized during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), but this discovery proves it was being used by aristocrats much earlier than that.

Opinion is divided on the usage of tea in the Han Dynasty, said Yang Wuzhan, a research fellow with the Shaanxi provincial institute of archaeology. Some believe it was seen as a medicine rather than a drink.

Source: Xinhua [January 14, 2016]
TANN

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