Saturday, May 26, 2012

Legends of the Leaf: The Origin of Tea

Tea has been around for such a long time that all kinds of wonderful myths and stories have evolved to explain its origins. I love learning about the history of tea so I thought that I would share a few of my favorites.

In China, legend has it that tea was discovered in 2737 B.C. by the somewhat mythical emperor Shennong. The discovery was quite by accident. A servant was boiling his drinking water when a leaf from a wild tea bush fell into it. The emperor drank the infusion before he realized what had happened and there you have it, the first cup of tea.

Another version tells of the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma, who had taken a vow to meditate for nine years straight. After five years he gave in to exhaustion and fell asleep. He was so furious with himself that he cut off his eyelids and threw them on the ground. A tea tree sprouted from the spot where they had landed and with the help of that plant he was able to successfully complete his meditation.