The first textual reference of the consume of tea as a medicinal drink dates from the year 59 BC during Western Han Dynasty, but so far had not found remains that substantiate it. However it was not until the 7th – 8th century AD, during the Tang dynasty, when tea became a popular drink throughout China and later throughout Asia via the Silk Road.
Chinese researchers have found 2,100 years old tea bundles from two funerary sites: the Han Yangling Mausoleum in Xi’an, Sha’anxi Province; and the Gurgyam Cemetery in Ngari district, western Tibet. These discoveries are even more interesting because the exposed leaves are from tips, young buds, which are used to manufacture the best quality tea.
Experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences analyzed charred organic material of tea leaves, found in the funerary enclosures, and confirmed that it belongs to the genus Camellia.
Until now, the oldest tea that they had physical evidence belonged to the Song Dynasty (X – XII AD), so the discovery advances in a Millennium the archaeological history of this drink.