Jan Huyghen van Linschoten
A Dutchman by birth, Jan Huyghen van Linschoten was a merchant and adventurer, but to others a liar and scoundrel.
When he was just 20 years old in 1583, he went on a trip to India which was funded by Portugal for him. (Portugal was the country which enjoyed a monopoly on trade with the East Indies for most of the century back then.)
He kept an extensive diary during his time there, which he later turned into a book, detailing the life and customs of the people.
One noteworthy observation was his description of a beverage brought in from China:
“The aforesaid warme water is made with the poder of a certaine hearbe called Chaa.”
This mention, as slight and fleeting as it is, was the first published acknowledgement of tea in the Western world.
Take note, however, that in this book, Itinerario (published in 1596), he also stole and published many trade secrets from his Portuguese benefactors, which destroyed the monopoly they had in the Asian Trade. Soon after, both the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company would take over much of the trade in the region.
… But at least he mentioned tea, right?