The Legend of Chinese Tea

Shennong chewing a branch (maybe Chinese Tea?)

From Poisonous Plants to Chinese Tea

Legend says that the first person to discover Chinese tea was Shennong, a legendary emperor of China born around 2700BC. He was the 2nd of the 3 legendary Chinese emperors (Fuxi, Shennong, Hungdi). Shennong, whose name litteraly means “Divine Farmer”, established an agricultural society in China.

In his quest of discovering plants that were edible, poisonous or had medicinal benefits, Shennong ate 100 plants in just one day. 72 among them contained different types of poison. Fortunately enough he also consumed Chinese tea leaves who countered and removed the poison from his body.

The Chinese emperor was blessed with a transparent belly, so he could perfectly observe what each plant would do to his intestines and stomach. In that way he could determine wether the plant was harmful or not. Knowing that in these times people knew little about plants and their effect on the body, so this experiment was extremely beneficial to the medicinal knowlegde.
Shennong could conclude that Chinese Tea leaves cleansed his stomach and intestines, and neutralised all poisonous effects of other plants he had eaten.

These Chinese Tea leaves were reffered to as “Cha” by Shennong, the same word still used for “Tea” in China.

A Second Version of the Legend

People also have a second version of the story, a story that strokes reality a bit more. Story tells that Shennong was resting under a tree after a long walk and boiled some water to drink. (He has always encouraged Chinese people to boil their water before drinking it.) While the water was boiling, some leaves from the tree fell into his cup, which changed the colour and taste of the water.

After drinking this cup of boiled water, Shennong felt energized and refreshed.
The tree the emperor was resting under, is said to be growing Chinese Tea.

This coincidence brought Shennong to the conclusion that drinking Chinese Tea makes a person recover quicker, move lighter, see clearer and sleep better.

Until today it is uncertain wether Shennong was one person or a group of people. Most researchers think Shennong was a tribes leader position.
To my opinion this does not matter. Teabee is grateful for Shennong discovering this blessed drink and bringing it to our lives!

If you want to find out more about Shennong, check out: Shennong on Wikipedia