Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Tea Story: Along came Shennong and…Eureka!

Legend claims that tea was discovered by sheer accident. Do you remember my post on Bodhidharma and the gruesome manner in which he discovered tea? How about the tales of Dragon Well? There are many stories surrounding tea, some sound plausible while others seem incredible. Either way, they make for great storytelling. Here is another one:

In China, 2737 BCE, there once lived an Emperor named Shennong. This Emperor was quite gifted especially in the areas of agriculture and herbal medicine. Apparently, Shennong was a hands-on kinda guy in his research on herbal medicine so much so that he even tested all sorts of botanicals, toxic or not, on himself in order to understand their properties and medicinal value. Purportedly, he was poisoned many times but was able to remove the toxic effects by using the appropriate herbs as a remedy. He also insisted on having his water boiled first in order to kill off any undesirables within the water before drinking it.

One day, while off visiting a remote area, Shennong and his entourage took to rest and began building a fire for a pot of water using the twigs of a nearby tree. As the water began to boil, some leaves from this tree flew into the pot causing the water to change in colour. Curious by the colour and sweet aroma, Shennong took the concoction to his lips and felt refreshed and alive! The tree was of course, Camellia sinensis, a wild tea tree.

Shennong continued his research on tea as well as many other herbs. Eventually he died from ingesting a poisonous herb he was experimenting with for which he was unable to find a cure in time. Careful what you put in your bodies kids! So long, Shennong.

It's medicinal, dude!

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