A team of archeologists exploring an almost 2,200-year-old tomb of a Chinese emperor of the Han Dynasty found the world's oldest tea. That's probably been brewing for a long time.

This discovery sheds light on the new evidence that proves that ancient Chinese royalty were tea drinkers. The team discovered the tea leaves in the Han Yangling Mausoleum, a special tomb built for Emperor Jing Di. He is thought to have died around 141 BCE.

The 1,250-year-old tea was one of the many ancient items discovered when the tomb was evacuated in the '90s in Tibet. Some of the artifacts are pottery figures, weapons and even chariots with horses. At the time, the box was filled with an unidentified type of leaves.

With the expertise of scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, mass spectrometry was used to identify the nature of the leaves. After thorough investigation, the leaves were proven to be real tea leaves.

Findings show that the leaves are similar to modern green tea leaves that the world enjoys today. It was also found to contain high amounts of caffeine.

"Our study reveals that tea was drunk by Han Dynasty emperors as early as 2100 yr BP and had been introduced into the Tibetan Plateau by 1800 yr BP. This indicates that one branch of the Silk Road passed through western Tibet at that time," the study said.

The researchers added that identifying the tea through modern methods has provided a unique view on Chinese mysteries in terms of culture, beliefs and practices. The origin of the beverage was a controversy, but this time, the study shows that it originated in China. Tea was then one of the most popular drinks around the world, and have been so up to the present.

"Our data indicate that the plant residues unearthed at both the Han Yangling Mausoleum and Gurgyam Cemetery are the earliest physical evidence of tea in the world. These data indicate that tea was part of trade of luxury products, alongside textiles, that moved along the Silk Road around 2,000 years ago, and were traded up into Tibet," the researchers added.

The study was published in the journal Nature's Scientific Reports.

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