The Ancient History of Tea


According to an ancient Chinese legend, tea was discovered by mistake by emperor Shen-Nung approximately 3,000 years before Christ. This is the story:
Under the shade of a large tree, the emperor set up camp with his entourage. They boiled water in a large pot upon a hot fire. Suddenly, there was a fierce wind and it blew some leaves into the pot of boiling water. A delightful aroma appeared and the water turned golden brown. The emperor drank the water and was amazed by the delicious taste and scent. He was immediately aware of the refreshing and invigorating effect, and so cried "T'sa", which means godlike. Today, "cha" is the name for tea in Chinese.


The story behind the tea in India is as follows:
In the year 500AD, the Fakir Dharma took a vow not to sleep for 7 years. 5 years of sleep deprivation found that he could no longer fight off the need to sleep. In desperation knowing he would not be able to keep his vow, he grasped on to a couple of branches of a tree where he had made his camp. Some of the leaves came off in to his hand and he put them into his mouth and chewed them. Immediately after, Dharma felt a refreshing and invigorating effect. So much so that his tiredness went and he realised he could keep his vow.


The discovery of tea in Japan is based upon this ancient legend:

A repentant person made a vow of 7 years of meditation. He also vowed not to sleep for these 7 years. Despite taking this vow, he fell asleep one night and when he woke up the next morning, he was so annoyed at his failure that he cut off his eyelids. As soon as his eyelids touched the earth, roots grew and they soon developed into a large bush. When the repentant saw this miracle, he used the leaves to prepare himself a drink. People travelled from all around to see this miracle tree and followed the repentant and prepared drinks from the leaves. The news of the drink's refreshing and invigorating effect was spread everywhere. The delicious taste and scent were enough to see this drink as "divine". Today in the Japanese language the same character is used for eyelid and tea.