OLD TEA LEGEND
THE ORIGIN OF THE HERB
AS TOLD BY THE JAPANESE
By a Japanese legend, the origin of tea is thus traced. A Indian prince by name Darma,
of a holy and religious character, visited China in the year 516 A. D. for the purpose of instituting
the celestials in the duty of religion. He led a most abstemious life and denied himself all rest or relaxation of body and mind. At last tired nature rebelled against such treatment, and thoroughly
exhausted, the prince fell asleep. When he awoke he was so mortified that in order to purge himself
of an unpardonable sin, he cut off his eye brows, thinking them the instruments of his crime.
As they fell to the ground, each hair became transformed into a shrub which became known to be tea. Prior to this, tea had been unknown. Darma quickly discovered the agreeable properties of the leaves since they endowed his mind with fresh powers to master abstruse religious principals
and prevented sleep from closing his eyes at opportune times.
He recommended its virtues to his disciples who in turn sand its praises to all whom they met.
In a very short time tea use came general through the Celestrial kingdom, then gradually extended to all parts of the earth.
Darma's memory is perpetuated in Chinese and Japanese drawings by the representation of a
rude figure of an old man standing in water with a reed under his feet and one of his eye brows
sprouting into a tea leaf.
Source: Wilmington Evening Journal, Monday October 26, 1891, abstract by Harrison, 2017.