Revisited Myth # 87: People bought their tea in bricks, not loose tea leaves.

From history

History Myths Debunked


Well, that depends upon which people you’re talking about. Tibetan people, yes. American people, no.

Bricks of tea date from as early as 733 AD, according to a Victoria & Albert publication, Tea: East and West. But that was in China, where bricks of tea were particularly popular in central Asia (Mongolia and Tibet) because they could be carried by porters across the mountains into that region. There, tea bricks were used as a form of currency. “Tea could be bartered against practically anything, and workmen and servants were routinely paid in it.” (p. 60-62) Perhaps this myth got started when people assumed that what they’d heard about the Far East was equally true in the West.

Americans, however, used tea in its loose-leaf form. They stored it in tea chests or canisters at home, sometimes under lock and key, because it was so costly. At stores, it was sometimes…

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