You'll often read that Shen Nung, a Chinese emperor who lived some 4,700 years ago, discovered that tea leaves falling into boiling water made a refreshing drink. Alas, the emperor - credited with numerous discoveries in medicine, pharmacy, agriculture - is likely a myth himself. The earliest authenticated record of commercial cultivation of tea is found in 4th century Chinese documents. However, it's generally accepted that people in East Asia were brewing and drinking tea hundreds of years before. In those early days, tea was drunk mostly for medicinal purposes. Green tea leaves were formed into small cakes, roasted, and then pounded into small chunks. Brewed tea must not have tasted very good because the drink was typically flavoured with ginger, onion, mint, and orange. Infusing tea leaves in a teapot became a widespread practice in China early during the Ming dynasty(1368-1644). Thus "modern tea drinking" is probably less than seven hundred years old.