The history of green tea started almost 4,000 years ago when tea consumption took off in China (around 2737 BC if you insist on knowing “exact” dates).
According to a Chinese legend, Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung was boiling water under a tea tree while taking a nap (quite dangerous if you ask me) when a breeze caused some tea leaves to fall from an overhead branch into his pot of boiling water.
The Emperor smelled the pleasant scent and decided to drink it anyway; he thought it was refreshing, stimulating, and had great powers.
Green tea was first used as a medicine only but soon it turned into one of the most popular beverages in China due to the pleasant taste.
Another reason of green tea’s quick rise in popularity was that it hardly needed any processing, encouraging Buddhist monks to start growing the Camellia sinensis (tea) plant around monasteries.
More on the different processing methods: what is green tea.
After taking over China green tea, and other teas, were introduced to other Asian countries; from Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam to Korea and Thailand. The alleged medicinal effects were healing wounds, regulating body temperature, blood sugar, digestion and so on.
A Buddhist Monk introduced tea to Japan in the 6th Century and by the year 1200 Japanese Zen priest Eisai, wrote the first book on tea (“Kissa Yojoki” or translated: “Book of Tea“).
He described the tea plant, how you can grow the Camelia sinensis and how to process its leaves. He also stresses the important health benefits of green tea for vital organs such as the heart and the brain.
Long after conquering Asia tea was first introduced into Europe in the 16th century when Portuguese missionary returned home with this exotic herb.
In the 17th century black tea had become a popular drink in Europe too but it wasn’t until the most recent years for green tea to become as popular around the world as well.
This has been credited to the many positive conclusions on health studies involving green tea.
From the history of green tea we’ve now moved into the 21st century where green tea has the potential to take over black tea in world domination!
Some of the information I collected from About.com, Wikipedia.com and Asianartmall.com.