The "origin" of tea is often more the stuff of fable than of fact. Lu Yu wrote Cha Jing,(The Book of Tea) in A.D. 760. In it he referred to a mythical emperor, Shen Nung, who was supposedly sipping boiling water when his servant failed to protect the cup and fragrant tea leaves fell in. The servant was immediately beheaded. After an appropriate mourning period, the Emperor got back to his water and was so delighted at the taste that he had the servant’s head wrapped in the leaves and buried next to the plant.
From India we hear that a monk, Daruma, ripped off his eyelids so he wouldn’t fall asleep while meditating. Tea sprouted from the discarded lids, and the caffeine jolt was born. Tea is often referred to in India as the beverage of Daruma’s eyes.
The zen priest Eisai introduced the custom of drinking tea to Japan in his book, Kissa Yojoki (Health Benefits of Tea). By the 15th Century, a whole culture had developed around it, leading to the "tea ceremony".
[read more>> The history of tea growing]