2,100 years old: Archaeologists discover world's oldest tea leaves in China

By Rachel Swatman
Published
Oldest tea leaves
Guinness World Records can today confirm the discovery of the world's Oldest tea leaves during the excavation of an ancient tomb belonging to a Chinese emperor.
 
The historical find was made by the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology during the examination of the Han Yang Ling Mausoleum between 1998 and 2005. 
 
The tea leaves were uncovered among treasures buried with Emperor Liu Qi, with scientific examinations confirming that the leaves are an incredible 2,100 years old.
 
Oldest tea leaves measurements
 
Research suggests the type of leaves found were grown to cater for the drinking habits of the Western Han Dynasty (207BCE-9CE) and then carried toward central Asia by 200CE.
 
The mausoleum where the leaves were found is situated in Xi’an in China, an area previously called Chang’an during the Han Dynasty and a starting point of the ancient network of trade routes called Silk Road, where tea leaves were considered an important commodity.
 
Oldest tea leaves China
 
As the tea leaves are an incredible piece of Chinese history and culture, they will be placed on display to the public in the Han Yang Ling Museum, in Xi’an, Shaanxi, China from 18 May.