The Origin of Tea
The birth of tea is a mix of myths and ancient stories. However, the practice of drinking tea has begun long ago in China.
According to legends, tea was found somewhere in 2737 BC by the Chinese Emperor Shen Nong, a skilled ruler and scientist. The legend says, when Shen Nong was boiling water in the garden, a leaf from a wild tree close by drifted into his pot and he enjoyed drinking the infused water that it made him to find out more about the leaf that fell into his pot. The legend further says that the Emperor discovered tea’s medicinal properties during his research.
Indians believe that tea was discovered by Prince Bodhi-Dharma, an Indian saint who began the Zen School of Buddhism. It is said that Prince Bodhi-Dharma traveled to China to preach Buddhism and in doing so to prove some Zen principles, Bodhi-Dharma has vowed to meditate for nine years without sleep. The legend has it that towards the end of his meditation, he fell asleep. And upon waking up, he was very distressed that he cut off his eyelids. It is believed that a tea plant grew up on the spot to declare his sacrifice holy.
Whatever the legend, finding tea's unique roots seems quite difficult. It is plausible that the tea plant was originally grown in districts around Southwest China, Tibet, and Northern India. Chinese brokers may have gone all through these districts frequently and experienced individuals biting tea leaves for therapeutic purposes.
Only during the Tang administration (618-907) in China, also known as the great time of tea, tea began to widespread. During this time, a tax was also imposed on tea which further confirms the popularity of this beverage and eventually tea was perceived as China’s national drink.
Tea was originally used in ritual offerings and gradually people started eating tea leaves; it was either used as a vegetable or medicine. History also says that during the fourth and fifth centuries, certain ingredients like rice, salt, spices, ginger and orange peel were added to tea when drinking.
During the Song Dynasty (960-1279) whipped powdered tea was the trend, however, it has disappeared from the Chinese culture soon after Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) came in. With time, Chinese have got used to drinking steeped tea from leaves and continues drink it the same way today.
Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water. This mighty leaf carries over 5000 years old rich history. Today, tea is not just a hot cuppa anymore, but more of a recreational beverage and a symbol of style.