History of Tea
Legend has it that the first person to drink tea was a man named, Shien Non Shei, who one day took his wife and children mountain climbing. During the climb Shien Non Shei became quite thirsty and while he was feeling thirsty a leaf drifted onto his foot. He picked this leaf up and twisted the leaf with his fingers. The juice of the leaf went on to his fingers and he tasted the juice with his tongue. The taste of the juice was quite bitter, so Shien Non Shei felt that this leaf could have medicinal properties and could help quench thirst, when brewed. Thus, according to legend he was the first individual to drink tea.
The first written reference of tea made and consumed appeared in 350 A.D. Kuo P’o’ updated an old Chinese dictionary to include the description of tea as “a beverage made from boiled leaves.” Tea during this time was made of leaves boiled in water with ginger, orange or other produce added to it. Although tea was mostly consumed for medicinal purposes to treat digestive and nervous conditions, people living in the interior part of China pressed tea into brick “currency” to barter with other tribes.
From 350 to 600 A.D., the demand for tea dramatically increased and outstripped the supply of wild tea trees. Farmers began to grow tea plants in the Szechwan district, but soon tea cultivation had spread throughout China.
Today, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water.