Tea is a non-alcoholic beverage, which contains theine. It is an infusion prepared by pouring boiling water over dried leaves or buds of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). As an additive, tea can also contain herbs, spices or fruit flavors. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world.
The Slovene word for tea, "čaj", originates from the Chinese word cha. In some regions of China the word is pronounced as t'e, which was adopted by many European languages and is present in English tea, Italian té and German tee. Tea plants grow mainly in China, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Indonesia, Nepal, Australia, Argentina, Russia and Kenya. The Slovene word "čaj" is commonly used to describe any infusion of fruit or herbs. As such we drink chamomile tea, rosehip tea and many others. Tea prepared from the tea plant leaves is called "pravi čaj", which means "proper tea". To differentiate one from another, the other types of tea are called herbal or fruit tea. Tea has been known for over 3000 years. Several nations and their legends describe its discovery.

According to a Chinese legend, the emperor Shen Nund (2737 – 2697 BC) discovered tea by accident. While he was boiling some water, a few tea leaves from a nearby plant fell into the pot. The liquid turned yellow and had a very aromatic scent. During the reign of Chinese dynasties, tea was picked in complete silence by young virgins dressed in fresh clothes, wearing gloves and perfume.

Indians claim that tea was discovered in 495 a. d. by Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk. The young Buddhist priest went on a pilgrimage to China and in order to complete his difficult task, he wanted to ensure he had heavenly help on his side. To do that, he made a vow not to sleep during his journey. After five years, he started to feel drowsy and to prevent himself from sleeping he would chew the bush leaves. Soon he discovered that the leaves which grow on a particular bush are especially refreshing. This helped him stay awake for the next two years.

In Japan they have the same expression for eyelashes and tea, which is explained in a Japanese legend. A priest, who fell asleep during meditation, cut all of his eyelashes in anger and threw them on the ground. These developed roots and the next morning there was a bush growing in the same spot. The priest tasted the leaves, which refreshed his body and gave him new strength.

The history of tea is long and complicated as it was spread among different cultures in thousands of years. Even though there are several legends explaining the beginning of drinking and using of tea, nobody can determine its exact origin with certainty. The studies of the origin of tea place it in the area of the northeast of India, northern Burma, southwest of China and Tibet. With Buddhism the beverage spread to Korea and Japan. China was the first to start with the mass production and selling of tea, which caused it to spread to numerous locations worldwide.
The healing effects of green tea and herbs have been known in traditional medicine for millennia. Lao Tze, the founder of Taoism, describes tea as the elixir of immortality in the Chinese scriptures from the first century a.d. In our country, tea drinking is mostly connected to folk medicine, which has a rich culture in Slovenia. The European Parliament has unfortunately accepted Regulation (ES) No. 1924/2006, which bans any notifications regarding medicinal effects on foods. As the result, we leave it up to every individual to get the information on the medicinal effects of teas and tea mixtures.
Learn more about the Regulation.