Anyone who drinks their tea, whether for the taste or to enjoy its beneficial properties, cannot even imagine the history that this spice conquered thousands of years ago. Already in the era before Christ, tea was already a commodity. The main nation that produced the powder for this drink was China, which traded it for spices with the Indians and for horses with the Tibetans.In parallel to the Silk Route, in 200 BC, there was the Cha Ma Gu Dao Route, known as the Tea and Horse Route. The latter, in addition to having an incredible history of overcoming human work, was also responsible for the commercial and cultural exchanges of the peoples involved. The route originated in the province of Sichuan, southwestern China, and ended in India and the southern Himalayas. And along the way, people were on foot carrying the tea powder, which would be exchanged for horses.

The route of the Tea and Horse Route

The path taken by the workers was approximately 2,500 kilometers, the equivalent of six months of journey. At that time, employees crossed more than 70 mountains, some with high altitudes, more than 50 rivers and faced regions with varied climates, ranging from desert to snow.

Each carrier carried around 150 kilos on their backs, the weight being due to the merchandise and their personal use, such as food, spare sandals, etc. Due to the long journey, men and women built houses and civilizations that had nothing in common, not even the language, and, as it was a difficult route, the workers had a support similar to a cane, avoiding fatal falls for some of them .

The end of the route was marked by commercial exchanges, when the Chinese exchanged tea for products such as salt, sugar, gold, dried fruit, precious stones, etc. Over time, these goods began to be more refined, such as fabrics, porcelain, medicines, paints, tobacco, wood carvings and others. However, for a long time, China’s main objective was the exchange of tea for horses, as they were of paramount importance in wars. Seeing this possibility, Tibet, the supplier of these animals, also became a great consumer of tea. Depending on the season, the negotiation of the Route was established as follows: each horse was worth around 20 to 50 kilos of tea.

the end of the route

The decline of commercialization via the route took place after the emergence of highways and through the modernity of trains and motor vehicles. The end was marked at the end of World War II, approximately between the years 1950 to 1960. However, some parts of the routes serve today as a tourist attraction and move the economy of these countries, as it turns over a trunk of historical and cultural moments of these peoples.