Silk Road: Tea
The Silk Road was a series of historical trade routes that connected cultures of European and Asian countries. Hidden in Southwest China is a lesser-known trade route called Chamadao, literally translated as the Tea Horse Road, was a central trade route for the exchange of Tibetan horses and Chinese tea (Elaine). The route started in Southwest China, where tea was produced, led north into the Tibetan mountains and into India (Yang). Due to its economic and cultural impact, it has been dubbed the “Southern Silk Road of China” (Yang). Tea first originated from Yunnan, through China, to the rest of Asia, then to the West. In its earliest uses, tea was first used as food then concocted as medicinal brews. As more traditional tea drinking practices developed overtime. It began transmit to social hierarchy and developed status (Heiss 4,7). The origin of tea trade could be traced back to the Tang Dynasty. During the Tang dynasty, Emperor Dezong sent his supervisory official Chang Lu to visit Tibet. Chang Lu offered some boiled tea to the Tibetan king, who then asked what it was. When Chang answered, the king informed him that Tibet already had tea and had his servants show it to Chang (Yang). The Chinese were the main exporters of tea. The Tea Horse Road, or Chamadao, was a central trade route for exchanging Tibetan horses and Chinese tea. Though it is called the Tea Horse Road, other products such as salt, sugar and furs were also exchanged along this route. The increasing importance of tea in daily life led to high demand and set up many markets outside of Southern China (Whitfield 238). Tea trade further expanded after Europeans were introduced to it. Chinese Tea was traded as far as Kenya, Africa. Chamadao soon earned the title of “Southern Silk Road of China,” due to its importance in both economic and cultural aspects (Elaine). Tea played a great role in religion and politics. At the height of the tea trade’s prosperity during the Ming...
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