by chris — Posted in History on March 31, 2016

Throwback Tea Thursday: Jan Huyghen van Linschoten

Jan Huyghen van Linschoten was a Dutchman by birth, but to some he was a merchant and adventurer, to others a liar and scoundrel.

In 1583, at just 20 years old, a trip to India was funded by Portugal (the country which enjoyed a monopoly on trade with the East Indies for most of the century) for van Linschoten.

During his time there, he kept an extensive diary, which he later turned into a book, detailing the life and customs of the people. One noteworthy observation was his description of a beverage brought in from China:

The aforesaid warme water is made with the poder of a certaine hearbe called Chaa.”

This mention, as slight and fleeting as it is, was the first published acknowledgment of tea in the Western world.

It should be noted, however, that in this book, Itinerario (published in 1596), he also stole and published many trade secrets from his Portuguese benefactors, which destroyed the monopoly they had in the Asian Trade. Soon, both the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company would take over much of the trade in the region.

… But at least he mentioned tea, right?