Tea Pioneers of Germany

Wenzhuo Liu

Tea Plant was called Thea sinensis not Camellia sinensis ?!

In the first half of the 17th century, when the German people didn’t know what tea was, the German tea pioneers began to pay attention to the drink called natural medicine brought back by European maritime countries. Tea was constantly mentioned in the popular German books and works at that time.

Simon Paulli, born in Rostock Germany, as a physician and naturalist, he published his work against tobacco and tea in 1661, his work was later translated into English in 1746 as <A treatise on tobacco, tea, coffee, and chocolate>. In which I. The advantages and disadvantages attending the use of these commodities.


<A treatise on tobacco, tea, coffee, and chocolate>

One of the oldest records of tea being mentioned in German, German adventurer Johann Albrecht von Mandelslo (1616-1644), in his travel book <The Voyages and Travels of Mandelslo> described that his sea voyage in 1637 from Persia to India affected his health. Tea helped him to recover and he had been used to drinking tea since then. He usually drank tea 2-3 times a day. His work was soon translated into other languages, for example, a modern English edition appeared in the Broadway Travellers collection, which also included <The Travels of Marco Polo> and <The Travels of an Alchemist长春真人西游机>- The Journey of the Taoist Ch’ang-Ch’un from China to the Hindukush at the Summons of Chingiz Khan, recorded by his disciple Li Chih-Ch’ang.

<The Voyages and Travels of Mandelslo>

Engelbert Kämpfer’s book <Amoenitatum Exoticarum (Exotic Pleasures)> published in 1712, systematically described the genus Camellia (Thea) and 23 varieties, it included illustrations of camellia, covered every aspect of tea growing, making, and brewing. During Kämpfer’s ten-year research tour from 1683 to 1693, he traveled to India, Java, Siam and finally Japan through Russia and Persia, as a German naturalist, doctor and exploration writer. He gained a lot of science and art knowledge related to geography, nature, society, religion, politics, administration of the areas he traveled. Because Kämpfer worked for the Dutch East India Company, he was allowed to land in the then closed country of Japan. He was allowed to conduct botanical research in Japan, so he collected a large number of plant specimens.

<Amoenitatum Exoticarum (Exotic Pleasures)> Camellia sinensis

Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, zoologist and doctor, published the <Species Plantarum (The Species of Plants)> in 1753, used the binomial names to classify plants in Latin. The first name is genus, the genus is noun; the second is the name of species, the species is adjective, which describes the characteristics of some species, and often adds the name of the discoverer. It not only commemorates the discoverer, but also has the meaning of responsibility, the nomenclature has been used even to this day. Linnaeus suggested that tea tree should be named Thea sinensis in the first edition of Linnaeus’ <Species Plantarum>, Thea name comes from the Latin name of tea tree used by Engelbert Kämpfer in his <Amoenitatum Exoticarum (Exotic Pleasures)>, and sinensis means Latin “from China”.

<Amoenitatum Exoticarum (Exotic Pleasures)> Camellia sinensis and Thea sinensis

Neither Kämpfer nor Linnaeus seemed to suspect a possible link between Thea, the tea genus, and the later named Camellia genus. Perhaps the ancient Chinese people had already noticed the connection between tea and Camellia and named them only one word difference “茶” and “山茶”. Linnaeus named Camellia after Kamel to commemorate the contribution to botany of Georg Kamel, a pharmacist and naturalist who was born in Moravia, Czech, although Kamel did not find or name Camellia or any Camellia. In 1818, Robert Sweet transferred all formerly tea species of Thea to Camellia.

<Amoenitatum Exoticarum (Exotic Pleasures)> Camellia sinensis and Thea sinensis

John Wolfgang Goethe, a famous German writer and natural scientist, is one of the greatest German writers. Many works of Goethe who loved Chinese literature are also sought after by Chinese readers. Weimar’s literary salon in the period of classicism was called “literary tea table”. Goethe held this kind of large tea party and recommended tea to the German literary circle.

John Wolfgang Goethe

Frederick the great, king of Prussia, had great military talent. He fought against France, Russia and Austria with the strength of a small Prussian country. Although Frederick the great was a relatively tolerant and open king, he was not so open-minded about the emerging tea issue in Europe. He believed that people in the East Frisian region of Germany on the Dutch border drank so much tea that their health would be affected And he was sure that drinking too much tea would undoubtedly make people idle all day. The king soon issued a decree banning tea drinking in East Frisian, but this did not affect the stubborn East Frisian people, who ignored the king’s order at all, and the tea ban did not actually work among the people. In 1731, the Prussian merchant ship Apollo began to transport tea and other commodities from Guangzhou to Hamburg Port. Then, during the reign of King Frederick the great of Prussia, Emden Prussian Royal Asian trading company, which was established by German merchants, raised funds to buy the sailing boat and named it King Prussia. In 1753, King Prussian successfully transported 227 tons of tea and other goods from Guangzhou to the northwest port of Germany Emden, a symbol of Germany’s independence from the Netherlands, began to import tea from China.

Frederick the great

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