So began an importation into England which in time was to build fortunes and dot the seas with tea ships. Charles II rechartered the English company, granting it powers usually enjoyed only by governments. The company then proceeded to build up an Oriental trade, which soon far outstripped its rivals—the Dutch and the Portuguese.
While tea was being carried into Western Europe over water routes, overland caravans by way of the Levant were bringing it to other parts of Europe. The first tea so to arrive was a gift of several chests brought by a Chinese embassy to the Russian court at Moscow in 1618. Eighteen arduous months on the backs of camels were required for the journey, and if the Chinese hoped by this present to create a demand for their product, the shipment was in vain, for the tea failed to win Russian friends at that time.