The STORY of TEA has been handed down for countless generations. Among Mon-Khmer peoples, the earliest known cultivators of the leaf, it is the story of the nats, or nature spirits, and of the tea ancestor Paya Alaung. Chinese culture attributes the discovery of tea, alongside agriculture and herbal medicine, to Shennong, the Spiritual Cultivator. Then, there is Damo, or Bodhidharma, the Indian monk who delivered Buddhism to China. He introduced tea into monastic practice as a way of preserving physical stamina and mental clarity during long hours of meditation:
Chan and Tea, One Flavor
THEASOPHIE has spent the last decade learning these stories. We have sat in the forest and listened to the leaves, around countless village hearths listening to elders until we knew their words by heart. We’ve contributed in the preservation of ritual manuscripts and gathered original editions of the literature on tea going back to the 17th century. We have listened, translated, and read across several languages to seek out the origin story of tea and to understand its significance for the modern world.