According to Chinese mythology, in 2737 BC the Chinese Emperor, Shen Nung, scholar and herbalist, was sitting beneath a tree while his servant boiled drinking water. A leaf from the tree dropped into the water and Shen Nung decided to try the brew. The tree was a wild tea tree. There are many authentic and supposed references to tea in the centuries before Christ, according to the Chinese dictionary dated circa 350 AD. The Chinese t'u was often used to describe shrubs other than tea, hence the confusion when Confucius allegedly referred to tea or t'u when writing about the "sow thistle" plant in the Book of Odes.
From the earliest times tea was renowned for its properties as a healthy, refreshing drink. By the third century AD many stories were being told and some written about tea and the benefits of tea drinking, but it was not until the Tang Dynasty (618 AD - 906 AD) that tea became China's national drink and the word ch'a was used to describe tea.