The Mystic Legends of Tea

Posted by Ipsita Tiwari on
The Mystic Legends of Tea

Tea is the most popular beverage in the world, water being the obvious first. Tea is not just a drink but an experience. The origin of tea is infused with thought-provoking folklores and tales from around the world.

China’s Legend
Around 2700 BC in China, the legendary Emperor Sheng Nong, a skilled ruler and a scientist accidentally discovered tea. The legend says that the Emperor went for a walk in the countryside one day. After a while, he decided to take rest in the shade of a tree and boiled himself a cup of water to drink. Suddenly, a sharp wind shook up the tree branch above him and a few leaves fell into his cup turning the water golden with a pleasant scent. The emperor took a sip and was delighted by the taste and smell of this new-found drink. He immediately started feeling rejuvenated and let out the sound “T’sa” meaning godlike. This compelled the Emperor to research further and that is how he discovered the medicinal properties of tea.
Another Chinese legend states that the God of Agriculture chewed the leaves, stems and roots of various plants in order to discover their medicinal properties.  Whenever he came across a poisonous plant, he would counteract its poison by chewing on the leaves of tea. 

Japan’s Legend
Japanese mythology ascribes that the Bodhidharma discovered tea. It is said that the founder of Dhyan (Meditation), Daruma vowed to meditate for 9 years without sleep to prove the principles of Zen. Despite this vow, he became too tired one day and fell asleep. When he woke up, he felt so much disgust that he ripped off his eyelids and threw them on the ground. As soon as the eyelids touched the ground, they grew into a tea plant as a sanctified symbol of his sacrifice. This plant’s enchanting and invigorating effects got popularized everywhere as it was the plant that killed sleep. 

Korea’s Legend
The legend in Korea says that in 42 AD, six eggs descended from heaven in a golden box bearing a prophecy that those born out these eggs would become kings. These boys grew up into men in only seven days and went on to rule different dynasties. King Suro was one of these six princes. He prayed to the God of the mountains to find him a worthy woman for marriage. After this, a young beautiful princess in the Indian land of Ayodhya had a dream of King Suro and decided that she’ll marry the man of her dreams. So she embarked on the journey to find the kingdom of Gaya. During her journey, she collected treasures and riches to present to King Suro as dowry which also included tea seeds. This is how tea came to Japan according to the legend.
These tea legends provide us a way to discover the origin of tea in different countries. Tea has played an integral role in shaping the Asian culture over the centuries. It has been a symbol of status and royalty.
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