Origin of Tea

When was tea discovered?

Tea Origin

When was tea discovered? Well, the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, was discovered in predynastic China over 5,000 years ago.

How Was Tea Discovered?

According to Chinese mythology, a divine emperor named Shen Nong discovered tea trees growing in the wild. He then boiled the leaves into a tonic and used it as medicine. As all things translated from Chinese, there are variations to the English spelling of his name: Shennong or Shen Nung 神農 (traditional Chinese) or 神农 (simplified Chinese).

Who Is Shen Nong?

Revered in the Chinese culture as the Deity of Agriculture, Shen Nong was credited with teaching the ancient Chinese people the art of cultivation, husbandry and agriculture. Shen Nong was a venerated sage with intimate knowledge of plants, and also invented the Chinese herbal medicine.
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In modern days, Shen Nong is like rolling Yoda, Groot, and the wisecracking astronaut Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon in “The Martian”) into a single person. See for yourself: Here’s Watney in action.

What Are The Oldest Tea Plants?

The answer is Pu-erh or Puer. These are the oldest tea trees growing in China’s southwester provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan. Some of these wild trees are more than 2,000 years old!
Traditionally, Puer had always been popular among the Chinese people because of its ample health benefits. Thanks to the rising tea trend, Puer has gathered a fast-growing following in the West. Puer collectors hunt for high-quality aged Puer and are willing to pay an exorbitant sum for this tea. In wine-speak, an aged Puer is like a French cabernet sauvignon. Divine earth held in a cup. Puer tea comes in the form of tea cakes.

A Culture Infused With Tea

Tea and China are inexplicably linked since ancient times, like fish in the ocean and birds in the sky.

Seven Household Essentials

Throughout time, tea is considered one of the seven must-have items in a Chinese household. Here are the seven essentials:

柴,米,油,盐,醬,醋,茶

Firewood , Rice , Oil , Salt, Sauce, Vinegar, Tea

Tea’s Spiritual Root

Tea has a deep spiritual root in China. Since the ancient times, it was said the monks were first to cultivate tea in the southern regions of China, where the tea plants thrive in warm climates.

Read more about the Chinese tea culture here.

With more than 1,300 years of evolution in how tea is made and consumed, this simple cup is filled to the brim with history and mystery. Learn more about the evolution of tea-drinking in China here.

Up until the mid-19th century, China was the only country that knew how to make tea, from cultivation to manufacturing to tasting. So how did tea spread to Japan, to India, to Sri Lanka? Discover the fascinating journey of tea through the documentary film 9 DRAGONS TEA. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter for exclusive screenings and tasting events.

How Tea Grew Within China

“As the art of tea-making and tea-drinking evolved over the major dynasties, the southerner’s drink spread to northern parts of China, where the capital was located.
By the Tang dynasty (618 – 907 A.D.), tea had become China’s national beverage, thanks in part to Lu Yu’s book the “Classic Of Tea” or “Chajing” 茶經 (traditional Chinese) 茶经 (Simplified Chinese).

Published in the year 780 A.D., Lu Yu is the world’s first author on tea. The ancient tea sage pioneered the concept of “Cha Do” or “Chado”, 茶道 (Chinese), encapsulating aesthetic, etiquette, and spirituality into the world of tea, from cultivation to processing to the art of tea drinking.

In simple terms, the “practice of tea” is “a way of life”. This is the “Way Of Tea”. Or the “Way Of Cha”. Hence, Cha Dao, or Chado.

Ever wonder why “tea” is also called “Cha”? Well, this is because tea originated as a southerner’s drink initially in China. And in Cantonese, tea is called “Cha” 茶 (Chinese) .
So depending on the region of China where tea flowed out from, the local word came along with the drink!

How about the word “tea”? Well, it’s the anglicized word for “te” the word for “tea” in many southern Chinese local dialects spoken in tea-growing regions, such as Fujian province where the film is shot on location. For a full story of the etymology of “tea” or “Bohea” for example, be sure to stay connected for updates on the film’s release! This documentary film tells you the whole tea and caboodle on the fascinating world of tea!

We’ve digressed. Back to Lu Yu and his “Chado”. The concept of the “Way Of Tea” was later adopted in Japan, more than seven hundred years later (but who is counting?). Chado was then practiced, preserved, and became the tenant of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, also known as Chado. Fascinating, right? Read more about how tea spread to Japan.

With more than 1,300 years of evolution in how tea is made and consumed, this simple cup is filled to the brim with history and mystery. Learn more about the evolution of tea-drinking in China.

Up until the mid-19th century, China was the only country that knew how to make tea, from cultivation to manufacturing to tasting. So how did tea spread to Japan, to India, to Sri Lanka? Discover the fascinating journey of tea through the documentary film 9 DRAGONS TEA. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter for exclusive screenings and tasting events.

“Ancient Tea Grinder From Tang Dynasty, or 7th Century. Courtesy of Famen Temple, China.”

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A JOURNEY OF TEA THROUGH ART

You’ll love our new artbook! A labor of love, this artbook showcases glorious images, taking you on a journey through ancient tea rituals and how these practices bring calmness, mindfulness, and tranquility through the ages.