Shen Nong Emperor
Green Tea History

How far back does human's tea drinking history stretch?

Many tea experts attribute Chinese green tea's discovery to Emperor Shen Nong, who lived around 2,700 B.C... Often misunderstood, he is not a typical Chinese emperor.

He belonged to the mythological era where rulers used their god-like power to benefit other beings. Nicknamed the Divine Farmer and the Father of Chinese medicine, he taught his people how to grow food and use herbs to ward off diseases.

Green tea’s first encounter with him revealed its healing qualities. He has a curious hobby: in his quest to develop herbal remedies, he personally consumed many herbs daily to study their effects on human body.

He was said to have a transparent body that allowed him to observe the pathway each herb took. According to an ancient medicinal text Ben Cao Jing, he consumed as many as 72 poisons one day, only to accidentally discover tea's medicinal property.

While he is as real to the Chinese as King Arthur and Magician Merlin are to the Europeans, Chinese tea drinking did go back a long way.

According to chronicle Hua Yang Guo Zhi, written by Chang Qu at around fourth century, ancient Bashu states grew tea and even offered tea as tribute to Emperor Zhou Wu Wang at around 1,000 B.C..

While he may not have discovered green tea 5,000 years ago, but it is likely that the Chinese people have been drinking tea for at least 3,000 years.


Chen Zhong Xian (1992). Zhongguo Chajing. Shanghai Wenhua

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