Ahhh! Sit down and relax with a great cup of tea. Then ponder the power of it. Besides the simple pleasures of a cuppa, this ancient beverage has had medicinal, religious and political implications throughout almost 5,000 years of history. Legend has it that Emperor Shen Nung, a scientist, was boiling water when a gust of wind blew a camellia blossom into the water and turned it brown. He decided to taste it, and voila! Tea officially became a beverage. In China, for a time, tea was the state currency and used as cash.
Originally, tea was valued for its medicinal properties, including aiding digestion and hastening the discharge of nicotine from the body. A Buddhist priest introduced this Chinese beverage into Japan after observing the benefits of tea for religious meditation. Its popularity spread like wildfire, and drinking it became an art form in the eighth century, leading to the meditative Zen-influenced Japanese tea ceremony with its strict procedures for brewing, steeping and serving.