Sign advertising 'Lipton's Tea', c 1920.
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Legend has it that the idea of drinking tea was discovered in 2737 BC by the Chinese Emperor when some dried leaves blew into a pot of boiling water. Early European explorers and merchants who visited the Far East tasted the drink, and Dutch and Portuguese merchants introduced it to Europe in the 17th century. Sir Thomas Lipton was a Scottish tea merchant who popularised tea drinking in the United States in the 1890s. Lipton bought his own tea estates in Sri Lanka and transported tea to America in clipper ships. He was also the first merchant to package tea in small convenient tins to keep its freshnes and flavour.