Tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, native to China and parts of India. Tea was supposedly discovered by Shen Nong (the Divine Farmer), sometime around 2700 BC. First mention of tea is found in the famous herbalist's "Book of Plants," which says: "When the Divine Farmer was tasting the plants of the kingdom, each day he would eat 72 kinds which were poisonous, but when he had tea, he was cured."
Tea was used as offerings in the West Zhou, vegetables in the Spring and Autumn period, and medicine in the Warring period. Later in the West Han dynasty, it became a main commodity. During 300 years between the Three Kingdoms period and the Northern and Southern Dynasties, especially latter, Buddhism was popular and Buddhists applied tea to relieve sleep in Za-zen, so tea trees spread along valleys around temples. That is why people say tea and Buddhism accompanied each other in their development. Till the Tang dynasty tea became popular in ordinary people. In the Ming dynasty, tea trade began to play an important role in the social economy, the "Tea and Horse Bureau" was set up to supervise the tea trade.
In the 6th century, a Buddhist monk introduced tea to Japan and in the 16th century to Europe by a Portuguese missionary. And tea became an international drink.
Now in China, tea family not only consists of traditional tea, but also tea beverage, tea food, tea medicine and other tea products.