Up until recently, most tea historians believed that loose leaf tea (as we know it today) only started being produced around the end of the Song Dynasty (960-1279).  Previous to this, tea was manufactured either as a compressed brick wherein one could crumble off pieces to infuse into hot liquid (being that it was so compact, this form was also thought to have been used as currency) or ground up into a powder (a tradition which some think is the origin of the popular Japanese Tea Ceremony’s Matcha).

Sit and read, Mr. Song...However, a new archeological find suggests that loose tea may have been around as much as 200 years before this.

The find uncovered what is thought to be the tomb of Lu Dalin, who is considered the first in China to study ancient writings and bronze workings, and is therefore recognized as the forefather of Chinese anthropology.

Within his tomb, several noteworthy items were found, including (most salient to this subject) none other than loose tea and tea preparation equipment.  Amazingly enough, his tea paraphernalia is thought to be over 900 years old!

And it seems that Mr. Dalin definitely cared for his tea – it seems that him and many of his family members where buried with their teacups, so they’d still be able to enjoy tea in the afterlife.  Now that’s commitment.