Tea is the most popular beverage in the world. It is estimated that, world wide, 3 billion cups of tea are drunk each day. That translates into approximately 1 and 1/2 trillion cups a year! The only other liquid that humans on the planet drink more of is water. Where did tea come from? Its origin is shrouded in ancient history, religion and legend.
According to Chinese legend (history?) in 2737 B.C. the ancient Chinese Emperor Shen Yun, noted as both a scholar and herbalist, was resting beneath a tree while his servant boiled some water over a fire, intending to let it cool so that it would be safe to drink. A leaf from the tree underneath which they were resting fell, floated and dropped into the container of boiling water. It turned the water a dark color, but Shen Nung decided to sample the new drink anyway. He immediately liked this new brew and found it stimulating. The tree he was sitting under was a wild tea tree. So, the first cup of tea was an accident. The word “tea” derives from early Chinese words such as “”tchai”, “cha” and “tay” which were used to describe and refer to both the leaf and the drink itself.
An alternative, and more recent, tale of the origin of tea states that as Buddhist monks spread their spiritual beliefs through China and Japan (sixth thru the fourth century B.C.E.), a devout Buddhist priest from India named Bodhidharma determined to do a seven year sleepless meditation on The Buddha. During the fifth year of this meditation he began to feel drowsy. He came out of his meditation looking for something to help refocus his efforts. He immediately and impulsively plucked a few leaves from a nearby bush and chewed them which very soon revived him and allowed him to resume his meditation. The bush was a wild tea tree.
Here is an interesting 2 minute You Tube video about the history of tea. I hope you enjoy it.
Tea drinking is growing ever more popular in the world today, with the U.S. leading in the trend toward the consumption of ever greater quantities of hot tea, iced tea, chai and bubble tea.