September 10, 2019 3 min read

Even if you didn’t major in Tea, it’s not too late to enroll in NTT 101. We’ve got an easy course load to help you master content (and yes, there’s a quiz at the end)!


shennong- divine farmer

With a topic as ancient as tea, it’s difficult to time travel and confirms who steeped the first pot. But we researched myths, legends, and facts to deliver the information worth studying.

The First Sip

It is said that Shennong, the Chinese “Divine Farmer,” lived between 2737 B.C. to 2697 B.C. He was born to a princess and divine dragon and is among the Three Sovereigns who ruled prehistoric China.

Legend has it that one afternoon, Shennong took a rest under a Camellia tree. He decided to boil water for drinking and poured it into an open cauldron. While boiling, some dried leaves fell into the pot, emitting pleasant aromas that were unexpected.

Shennong was so enchanted by the smell that he bravely took a sip. The mystery liquid tasted good, and he was surprised by how invigorated he felt. This marked the beginning of tea-drinking as we know it.

Medicine and Toxins

Shennong continued his inquiry into medicinal herbs and teas. His most well-known work, The Divine Farmer’s Herb-Root Classic, lists numerous herbs that are graded on rarity and properties. It’s considered to be China’s earliest pharmacopoeia and includes 365 medicines derived from plants, minerals, and animals.

Sadly, the gusto behind Shennong’s research was also his demise. He ingested a yellow flower from a weed (a surprise poison) and it caused his intestines to rupture. He did not have time to take the antidotal tea, which would’ve saved his life.

Tea Travels

It’s impossible to check bits of truth in the Shennong myth, but we do know that tea drinking began in China. Tea containers were found in tombs dating back to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.), and under the Tang Dynasty (618-906 A.D.), tea became the national drink of China.

In fact, writer Lu Yu wrote an entire book about tea (Ch'a Ching) shortly before it was introduced in Japan. Tea drinking is now embedded in the Japanese culture, as seen in the development of the Tea Ceremony.

It was not until the sixteenth century that tea made its appearance in Europe. Portuguese traders and missionaries learned about tea from the east and enjoyed elevating its status in Europe. The rarity and exotic origins of tea boosted its reputation, and soon tea was fashionable to drink among aristocracy and royalty.

One princess, in particular, became a total addict.

The Queen Who Launched a Thousand Cups

Catherine of Braganza

In 1662, Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza was married off to Charles II of England. When she arrived on the shores of England, the first thing she asked for was a cup of tea. What she got was a glass of ale.  

Despite this rocky start, Queen Catherine shared her love of tea with Britain’s aristocracy. It wasn’t long before the whole court sipped tea—and British companies were looking to make a profit.

The East India Company (the favorite of Charles II) enjoyed a total monopoly on trade with the “Indies.” They eventually rose to account for half of the world’s trade in basic commodities like cotton, silk, salt, spices, and—you guessed it—tea.


Shennong and Queen Catherine were onto something. Though they weren’t modern physicians, they knew they felt healthier by drinking tea.

Today, studies confirm the benefits of tea and research points toward improvements in the digestive, nervous, and immune systems. We know there are hundreds of perks, but mindbodygreen, fortunately, plucked the 9 top-ranking benefits. Grab your flashcards and start memorizing:

  1. Lowered cholesterol
  2. Blindness prevention
  3. Reduced cortisol levels
  4. Anti-inflammatory
  5. Increased memory, focus, and concentration
  6. Anti-allergen
  7. Decreased risk of stroke
  8. Reduced risk of dementia
  9. Improved overall health markers


  1. Tea drinking started in Britain. True or false?
  2. The Divine Farmer was said to be born to a princess and divine dragon. True or false?
  3. Shennong was poisoned by rotten rooibos tea. True or false?
  4. Which year did Portugal’s Catherine of Braganza marry Charles II of England?
  5. List 3 benefits of tea (no peeking!)

Find out if you aced the quiz. Quiz answers will be posted to our NTT Facebook and Instagram @NepaliTeaTraders on 9/17/2019.

In the meantime, what did you think about our NTT 101 course? Comment below.☟ ☟ ☟ ☟

Shennong image via | Catherine of Braganza image via

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