A team of archeologists have discovered the oldest known sample of tea inside the 2,200-year-old tomb of Jing Di, a Chinese emperor during the Han dynasty. The tomb, located in modern-day Xi’an, was also storing grains like millet and rice, as well as weapons and chariots.
Researchers believe that the tea, sealed into the tomb when the emperor died, was made from high quality tea buds, and dates back to 141 B.C. Experts believe that the tea discovery suggests that tea was being exported to Tibet along trade routes that were part of the Silk Road.
“The discovery shows how modern science can reveal important previously unknown details about ancient Chinese culture,” Dorian Fuller, Director of the International Center for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology in London, who was not involved in the study, told the Independent. “The identification of the tea found in the emperor’s tomb complex gives us a rare glimpse into very ancient traditions which shed light on the origins of one of the world’s favorite beverages.”