Green Tea is derived from the same plant as oolong and black tea, Camellia sinensis. The resulting difference between these teas are a simple result of how the leaves are prepared: green tea undergoes minimal oxidation and is not fermented, so the active constituents inherent in the leaves remain unaltered.
All Camellia sinensis teas are Chinese in origin, and their popularity for medicinal and social use has spread across the world. Lowering cholesterol, reducing risks for influenza and cancer, and promoting weight loss are just a few of the manifold medical uses of this herbal drink.
According to Chinese legend, green tea was discovered by Shennong, Emperor of China and mythical hero in equal measure. Shennong, the founder of Chinese agriculture and medicine, is said to have happened upon the drink in a rather fortuitous fashion: the Emperor was drinking some boiled water (the only safe way to drink water at the time -- undoubtedly he was a very wise man) and a leaf fell into his cup. He went ahead and tasted the result, and the rest is history.
Buddhists believe that the Buddha himself discovered tea, and another Chinese legend has it that the god of agriculture would chew various plants to discover medicinal herbs -- if the god would happen upon a poisonous plant he would chew tea leaves to detoxify the poison.
Over the next week or so we'll go into detail over this mysterious and ancient beverage, so please check back in the coming days. In the meantime, please kick back and enjoy a cup of tea!