Tea was used for medicinal purposes before it became a common beverage. Naturally, China's tea drinking tradition started where tea originated. In western Sichuan and the southern region of the Yangzi River, the custom of drinking tea gained popularity in the centuries between the Han dynasty (206 B.C. - 220 A.D.) and the Southern and Northern Dynasties (386 - 589 A.D.). Tea drinking gradually spread across China, and it was in the 8th century, during mid-Tang dynasty, that tea drinking became a national custom.
Just as we have different recipes for preparing our food and beverages and customs for consuming them, our ancestors were no different. These recipes and customs were often developed out of the modes of living and values of the times.
Think about how youngsters today love going to cafes and having coffee while chatting with friends, or how we "need" to order tea when we go for dim sum; tea drinking had had its place and function over different dynasties and for different peoples as well.
Of course, many of our recipes and customs were also a result of technological advancements.
Imagine if we did not have the ability to make ice or chill water, we would never be able to have iced tea. Or if auto-packaging machines or modern preservative technologies had not been invented, we would not be able to have ready-made, bottled tea from supermarkets.
With that in mind, try to observe how tea-drinking has evolved through the years when you read on. Think about the lives and times of the peoples mentioned too.