Did you ever ask yourself who discovered tea? There are legends that reveal who discovered it as the world’s most aromatic drink. Historians still don’t know who discovered “foam green jewel”, as they call it.
People know tea for at least 3000 years. It has a rich tradition in countries where this “jewel” is rooted. Several legends, each in its own way, talk of its origin. Many nations cherish it and claim that they discovered it.
Tea comes from Asia with no doubt. The Chinese, Indians, Japanese tell their own story. Sources indicate that the tea plant came from Assam (India) to China in the 4th century, but the Chinese know it for thousands of years.
It is certain that the Chinese were the first ones who started to drink it. But all legends have something in common regarding this amazing drink:
China: “It refreshed him and also banished the fatigue and sleepiness.”
India: “Suddenly, he felt awake. The chewed leaves invigorated him.”
Japan: “Its freshness filled him with power and relaxation.”
How was tea discovered?
The legend says that it was found quite by an accident by a Chinese emperor Cheng-Nung. It was 2374 B.C. when some tea leaves fell in the emperor’s hot water on a hot summer day. He noticed it when he raised the cup to his mouth and smelled the seductive scent of the magical concoction.
Another story explains how an Indian monk Bodhidharma sailed to China and devoted to a 9 year meditation. During this experience, he became very sleepy so he briefly closed his eyes.
At one moment he took a knife and cut off his eyelids. The eyelids fell to the ground and on that place a tea bush grown. So the plant has found its home with Buddhist monks, who used it during long meditations to remain awake and alert.
This was a birth of new drink, which invigorates and heals old and young, rich and poor. It also dictated political and cultural events in many places. While new ideas were born in cafes in Turkey and Europe; the China Revolution was born in the room of the Shanghai tea house in 1911.
An elixir or immortality
Founder of Taoism Lao Tze described it as the elixir of immortality in Chinese writings from the first century B.C.
The tea-drinking became a ritual that symbolized both poetry and beauty during the Great Ming dynasty. It also symbolized the strength and determination. A cup of tea has become a mirror of the soul.
There are many other stories about its origin and how it found its way into our cups. But the wonderful fact is that we haven’t discovered the tea, “tu”, “cha” or “tay”, but it found us through our openness and willingness to take his wonderful gifts.
It doesn’t matter who discovered it if it was a Buddhist monk, an emperor, herbalist or ordinary farmer. Tea was and still is used for the body and lifting the spirit. The delicate flavor and medicinal properties of this beautiful plant made tea as the second most popular drink in the world after water.
Tea spreads to Japan
It spread to Japan in the early 9th century. Japanese people raised the consumption of this immortality drink to poetic heights with strictly prescribed ritual and developed it in the expression of the art of life itself. Young virgins collected the emperor’s tea in China during the monarchy of emperors.
A cup of tea in Arabia
If the Arabs offer a cup of tea it means an unobtrusive expression of hospitality to visitors both in the poorest tents as in the marble palaces. They sit on the floor with legs crossed and drink it in respectful silence.
In Marocco, very sweet tea is being traditionally drunk after each meal. The master or his son always prepares it but never a servant or even a women. They pour it very hot from the great height. Crystalline sound of pouring the aromatic beverage into glasses should reverberate in Allah’s ears as thankfulness for food. Moroccans drink Maghrebi mint tea that is their specialty.
Tea comes to Europe
Western civilization didn’t know the tea until the 17th century when the first cargo ship of fragrant tea leaves arrived in Europe from Makaa.
Tea in England
However, by far the greatest passion for drinking this beverage in Europe is attributed to the British. In addition to the morning and afternoon ritual with cakes and sandwiches, almost every joyous or sad social opportunity calls for a “nice cup of tea.”
According to the traditional English rules, milk is first that goes in the cup (or very rarely lemon), tea and sugar follows. They don’t drink prepared mixture in large gulps but they delicately sip the tea.
Tea in France
In France, tea is considered primarily as a drink of those people who don’t work physically. Intellectuals, wealthy people and especially ladies drank it.
Ladies who drank it used silver, lace tablecloths and elegant pieces of pastry. I am sure you know the little finger bending when drinking a tea from porcelain cups. It was their habit.
The popularity of drinking tea
The legends of tea discovery tell interesting stories that attract our attention. Maybe you find legends that are made up but they still carry the magic. Our ancestors discovered this aromatic drink that became their tradition.
As you see, people from different countries and continents have their own tradition in drinking tea. How do you drink it? Do you add sugar in it or eat biscuits with it? Are you one of those people who drink it just when they get sick? No matter what is your reason for drinking it, you are doing a big favor to your body and soul.
With a variety of teas, you have the opportunity to pick the right one for your taste and needs.
Real teas are the most drinkable all over the world and come with different aromas and caffeine amounts. You can pick green, black, white, oolong, pu-erh and many more.
There are also herbal ones that help us to get better when being sick. Fruit teas are great for people of all ages and are great refreshment.
People love stories. Now that you know the legends that tell who discovered tea, you can tell it to your kids or family. I think you will have their full attention.