It may not actually be the first, but an early reference to tea comes from the third century A.D. In Early References to Tea Drinking in China (Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 62, No. 1 (Mar., 1942), pp. 74-76), Derk Bodde tells a story of a debauched Chinese ruler, Sun Hao, who, in A.D. 264, put to death a lightweight who tried to substitute tea for wine at a drinking session with the king.
Chang Hua (232-300) wrote about marvels in his Po-wu chih. He mentions that what is true tea causes lack of sleep and is to be avoided, which suggests that at this time, not only was tea to be feared, but it was at the same time special and confused with other substances. Even the words for it varied with the text.Photo of Tea Harvesting © Wm Jas