May 31, 2010

Who discovered tea?

teaWas it Bodhidharma (the Indians and Zen Buddhists think so) or Emperor Shen Nung (all of China thinks so) who discovered tea? The emperor found that it kept his soldiers alert, while Bodhidharma, marathon meditator that he was, discovered that it helped keep him awake in meditation (in his commitment to stay awake, Bodhidharma severed his eyelids, from which sprang forth the first tea plant). You decide whose uses are most noble.

So who was it? It'll depend on where you are when you ask—in other words, there is no answer—but there are good and reliable tips for everything from choosing the right tea to brewing a cup to cleaning your teapot. Take a look at this from Haaretz.com.

And a few tea facts you'd otherwise miss if you didn't read the Haaretz article: The English drink nearly 4.5 kilograms (9.9 pounds) of it per person every year. Worldwide, Lipton's Yellow Label is probably the bestselling. And whoever it was who first discovered that it was good for brewing, the tea plant is indigenous to India.

For more on tea, read Phyllis Segura's "The Essential Pause."

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jjwalker7730's picture

According to the legend, Boddhidharma, when facing the wall for 9 years. His eye lids fell off and became the first tea leaves. They were used to keep monks awake during meditation.
Actually I like the coffee one. A goat herdsman saw his goats dancing around a coffee bush. He ate some beans himself and joined in. A passing Mulla observed this and took some beans back to the monastary and used it to keep monks awake during meditation.

BlindRob's picture

I don't comprehend how a basic article that starts with the purity and simplicity of tea can so quickly turn (degenerate?) to a list of cooking recipies. One fears that our American friends truly don't get the point of Buddhist tea and perhaps never will. Was it the party in Boston, is that it?

GreenTeaGirlie Green Tea Cookies: Trailer Park Cooking | int's picture

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