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The Origin of Tea

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Darma, third son of Koyuwo, King of India, a religious high priest from Siaka (the author of that Eastern paganism about a thousand years before the Christian era), coming to China, to teach the way of happiness, lived a most austere life, passing his days in continual mortification, and retiring by night to solitudes, in which he fed only upon the leaves of trees and other vegetable productions.

After several years passed in this manner, in fasting and watching, it happened that, contrary to his vows, the pious Darma fell asleep! When he awoke, he was so much enraged at himself, that, to prevent the offense to his vows for the future, he got rid of his eyelids and placed them on the ground. On the following day, returning to his accustomed devotions, he beheld, with amazement, springing up from his eyelids, two small shrubs of an unusual appearance, such as he had never before seen, and of whose qualities he was, of course, entirely ignorant.

The saint, however, not being wholly devoid of curiosity or, perhaps, being unusually hungry was prompted to eat of the leaves, and immediately felt within him a wonderful elevation of mind, and a vehement desire of divine contemplation, with which he acquainted his disciples, who were eager to follow the example of their instructor, and they readily received into common use the fragrant plant which has been the theme of so many poetical and literary pens in succeeding ages.

Tea

By Francis Saltus Saltus

From what enchanted Eden came thy leaves
That hide such subtle spirits of perfume?
Did eyes preadamite first see the bloom,
Luscious nepenthe of the soul that grieves?

By thee the tired and torpid mind conceives
Fairer than roses brightening life’s gloom,
Thy protean charm can every form assume
And turn December nights to April eves.

Thy amber-tinted drops bring back to me
Fantastic shapes of great Mongolian towers,
Emblazoned banners, and the booming gong;
I hear the sound of feast and revelry,
And smell, far sweeter than the sweetest flowers,
The kiosks of Pekin, fragrant of Oolong!