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According to the Chinese legend, the Emperor Chen Nung – called the “Divine Raper “ – because of the great impulse given to agriculture, was so maniac about hygiene that he never drank but boiled water and had ordered his citizens to keep to the same practice. Once, in the year 2737 B.C., while he was seated relaxing under the shadow of a wild tea-tree, a light breeze made some tea leaves fall into some boiling water which turned into an inviting golden colour. Curiosity prevailed and the Great Emperor sipped for the first time the delicious drink called tea.
After he had drunk it he was pervaded with an indescribable sense of pleasant well-being. He wanted to learn more about the tree that had produced the leaves causing such wonderful effects , and thus started promoting its use and cultivation. That is how the use of Tea originated.
Japanese Buddhists introduced a particular variation on this legend. They tell that Bodhidarma, after three long years of uninterrupted waking , eventually fell asleep and dreamt of some women he had fallen in love with in his youth. But when he woke up he was so furious because of his weakness that to punish himself he cut his eyelids and buried them. After some years, passing by the same place, he noticed that on the very same spot where he had buried his eyelids a wild shrub had grown whose leaves produced a wonderful drink giving vigour and being the best remedy to keep eyes wide-open during the long nights of vigil meditation. He recommended it to his friends and disciples and that is how the use and cultivation of tea originated.
The voyage of Prince Bodidharma in China is registered in the Chinese reports during the reign of Vu Yu in 543 A.C..