There are various myths & variants as to the origin of tea. Tea has played a significant role in Asian culture for centuries.
According to one legend Bodhidharma founder of the Zen school of Buddhism, after meditating for nine years, he accidentally fell asleep. He woke up in such disgust at his weakness, he cut off his eyelids and they fell to the ground and took root, growing into tea bushes.
In one popular Chinese legend around 2737 BC, Shennung, the legendary Emperor of China, inventor of Chinese medicine, was drinking a bowl of boiling water. The wind blew and a few leaves from a nearby tree fell into his water and began to change its color. The ever inquisitive and curious monarch took a sip of the brew and was pleasantly surprised by its flavor and its restorative properties.
In another variant Gautama Buddha names find mention in place of Shennung.
Tea and Water give each other life," the Professor was saying. "The tea is still alive. This tea has tea and water vitality," he added, "...Afterwards, the taste still happens... It rises like velvet... It is a performance."
- Jason Goodwin, The Gunpowder Gardens