Who decided to burn marshmallows and squish them in between crackers and call it a s’more?
Who decided to grill cow meat, slice it up, and put it in between a thin, unleavened bread made of corn and call it a taco?
Today we’re curious about the origins of green tea. It’s not food like what we mentioned above, but tea has been around for so long and green tea is one of the most popular teas!
Where, when, how, who, and why are some questions we’re going to answer below.
A myth of how green tea came about says that green tea got started back in 2737 BC. The myth says green tea was discovered during one of Emperor Shennong’s travels (Chinese Emperor). He and his convoy settled down to rest for the night and green tea leaves fell into his cup of hot water. Without noticing the leaves, the emperor took a sip and immediately enjoyed the drink. He requested that his tea be made that way for him on a regular basis from that point forward.
Cultural historians believe that the discovery of drinking green tea goes even further back than the myth. They propose that green tea leaves were originally chewed and eaten for recreational purposes in Southeast Asia. (So our reference to food earlier in this post wasn’t totally irrelevant 😏)
Green tea was used during the Han Dynasty (206-220), but for medicinal purposes. It was distributed as compressed cubes for easy transportation. Once it started to be used as a drink, a book called “The Classic of Tea” was written by Lu Yu and talked about the art of drinking green tea. By the Tang Dynasty (600-900) it was being drunk for pleasure and a formal tea ceremony came into being.
Green tea became a symbol of status because of the ceremonial tools used to drink it. These tools were expensive and only accessible to the rich, therefore making its ritual a symbol of wealth.
It wasn’t until the late 19th century that green tea finally made its way to European and western cultures. The tradition of harvesting green tea by hand and its ceremony are still well practiced today.
Thanks for reading about the origins of green tea! If you’re interested in learning more about the origins of other teas, visit the Origins of Tea page, like, comment, or subscribe to the blog!