It is widely believed that the drink we know as Tea originated from China, although the date in which it was first discovered cannot be established with any reliability. That being said, the commonly accepted date within the tea industry is 2737 BC. Why that date? It goes back to the Legend of Emperor Shen Nong, who was something of a herbalist. The way the tale goes, Shen Nong tested hundreds of herbs mostly for medicinal purposes. The knowledge he gained was so influential that thousands of years after his death, a book called the Divine Farmer's Herb-Root Classic was complied with a large portion of the work being accredited to him. Pretty cool, eh? It is said that while he was doing his experimentation, a breeze blew some of the herbs into a pot of boiling water. We have already established that Shen Nong was the type of guy who would smell then taste this new drink. When he discovered that it produced a pleasant taste he set the ball rolling and 4753 years later people all around the world are still throwing leaves into pots of boiling water.
If we are giving the credit for the discovery of Tea to Shen Nong, the credit for the refinement of Tea has to go to a monk by the name of Lu Yu. His part in all of this was that he was the first one to introduce the importance of water quality. One day he found a spring with beautifully fresh and clear water, being a lover of tea he naturally used this water to brew his tea and he discovered that it produced quite an improvement. Lu Yu did the world a great service by writing a treatise on how to properly prepare tea. This sometimes called The Traditions of Tea or The Classics of Tea. No longer were we tossing burning leaves into muddy water. Tea is a very special drink, which is good for the soul. It deserves clean, fresh water, and the water should always be poured over the tea. Don't pour the water and then dunk in a tea bag! My teacher always used to say, "Tea is special. Tea doesn't go to the water, the water goes to the tea!" Personally, I'd say that if you pour the water over the tea, the action of the falling water, stirs up the tea and produces a better infusion. But, as a seasoned tea drinker, I have to admit that the ceremony of pouring a perfect cup of tea is just as important as the science of why it works the way it does.