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Chinese Tea

Chinese Tea enjoys a long history. Tea does not only play an important role in driving the development in economy, but also has become a necessity in people’s lives. It has gradually developed into the resplendent tea culture and becomes a bright pearl of the spiritual civilization of the society. Tea is deeply woven into the history and culture of China. The beverage is considered one of the seven necessities of Chinese life, along with firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce and vinegar.

What is the history of Chinese tea?

Tea originates from China. According to popular legend, tea was discovered by Chinese Emperor Shennong in 2737 BC when a leaf from a Camellia sinensis tree fell into water the emperor was boiling.Tea dates back to the Western Zhou Period of ancient China, when the Chinese used tea as a ritual offering. Since then, tea leaves have been eaten as a vegetable, used as for medical purpose. From the time of the Han Dynasty, tea was infused in boiling water, the new drink making tea into a major commodity.

kongfu tea

Tea dates back to the Western Zhou Period of ancient China, when the Chinese used tea as a ritual offering. Since then, tea leaves have been eaten as a vegetable, used as for medical purpose. From the time of the Han Dynasty, tea was infused in boiling water, the new drink making tea into a major commodity.
Later the Chinese learned to grow tea plants and use their leaves to make various types of tea. Production of tea became a state monopoly during the Tang Dynasty with the market strictly controlled and penalties imposed for illegal dealing in the commodity. In Song Dynasty, tea had become an important crop. This included expensive tribute tea, tea from Zhejiang and Fujian Provinces, which were exported to Southeast Asian and the Arab countries.

What is the Chinese tea culture?

Tea culture is an important part of Chinese traditional culture, which covers a wide field and is rich in content. It not only has the embodiment of spiritual civilization, but also the extension of ideological form. No doubt it is beneficial in enhancing the cultural accomplishment and level of art appreciation among the Chinese people.

Tea and Life

The Chinese people, in their drinking of tea, place much significance on the act of “savoring”. “Savoring tea” is not only a way to discern good tea from mediocre tea, but also how people take delight in their reverie and in tea-drinking itself. Snatching a bit of leisure from a busy schedule, making a kettle of strong tea, securing a serene space, and serving and drinking tea by yourself can help banish fatigue and frustration, improve your thinking ability and inspire you with enthusiasm.
You may also imbibe it slowly in small sips to appreciate the subtle allure of tea-drinking, until your spirits soar up and up into a sublime aesthetic realm. Buildings, gardens, ornaments and tea sets are the elements that form the ambience for savoring tea. A tranquil, refreshing, comfortable and neat locale is certainly desirable for drinking tea. Chinese gardens are well known in the world and beautiful Chinese landscapes are too numerous to count. Teahouses tucked away in gardens and nestled beside the natural beauty of mountains and rivers are enchanting places of repose for people to rest and recreate themselves.

Tea Custom

China is a country with a time-honored civilization and a land of ceremony and decorum. Whenever guests visit, it is necessary to make and serve tea to them. Before serving tea, you may ask them for their preferences as to what kind of tea they fancy and serve them the tea in the most appropriate teacups.
In the course of serving tea, the host should take careful note of how much water is remaining in the cups and in the kettle. Usually, if the tea is made in a teacup, boiling water should be added after half of the cup has been consumed. Thus the cup is kept filled so that the tea retains the same bouquet and remains pleasantly warm throughout the entire course of tea-drinking. Snacks, sweets and other dishes may be served at tea time to complement the fragrance of the tea and to allay one's hunger.

Tea and Poem
Laoshe teahouse

China is both “the homeland of tea” and “a nation of poetry”. Therefore, tea has permeated the poems since a very early time. From the earliest tea poems to the present time, lasting 1,700 years, a large number of poems and litterateurs have created many graceful poems about tea.

Tea Book

The ancient tea history of China creates tea scientific technologies for mankind and also accumulates the most abundant literature of tea history for the world. Among the vast cultural classic books, there are not only books specially discussing tea, but also a large quantity of records about tea life, tea history, tea law and production technology of tea in historical books, local records, notes, textual studies and ancient books of calligraphy.
“The Classic of Tea”, written by Lu Yu (733–804AD, age of Tang Dynasty) the Sage of Tea, was the first definitive work on cultivating, making and drinking tea. Lu Yu was an orphan of Jinling County (now Tianmen County, Hubei Province) who was adopted by a Buddhist monk of the Dragon Cloud Monastery. During the An Lushan and Shi Siming rebellion period, he retired to Shaoqi (now Wuxing County, Zhejiang Province). During this period, Lu Yu made friends with many literati and wrote his magnum opus “the Classic of Tea”. “The Classic of Tea” is made of “Three Scrolls Ten Chapters”. For Lu Yu, tea symbolized the harmony and mysterious unity of the Universe.

tea book
Tea Journal

Tea journal refers to a serial professional publication of tea that has a fixed name, is numbered by volume and issue or in the order of year and month, and is bound into a book. According to incomplete statistics, there are 22 tea journals in China after reorganization. The large number of tea journals is incomparable to other tea production nations.

Tea and Buddhism

The relationship between Chinese tea and Buddhism is interactive. Apart from choosing a quiet environment as the monastic room, the sitting meditation of Zen Buddhism in our country also requires attention to five coordinations, namely, food coordination, sleeping coordination, body coordination, breath coordination and heart coordination. The five coordinations, especially the sleeping coordination, have a certain relationship with drinking tea.

Tea and Wedding

The relationship between tea and wedding refers to applying and assimilating tea in the wedding or tea culture as a part of etiquette. Wedding is not merely a form of proclaiming to the society or requiring the society to admit marriage relationship, but also is actually a “reception” held for the bride and bridegroom to recognize relatives and meet friends. Therefore, on the wedding day, the day of big gathering, close relatives and good friends of the two families establish a marriage relationship. When visitors come, tea is presented to them. In this way, wedding has bore an indissoluble bond with tea. Tea is also used during the wedding ceremony in all kinds of etiquettes.

Tea and Sacrifice

As for when tea began to serve as a sacrifice, our ancestors seem to have never done special research. It is generally regarded that the use of tea has developed from medicinal use through drinking to a series of cultural phenomena of tea, that is to say, only after tea became an item in daily use, has it slowly been used or assimilated into the etiquette system of our country including the funeral.

Tea and Chinese Traditional Drama

China is the sole nation that produces the independent type of drama “tea-picking drama” from the development of tea industry in the world. The tea-picking drama is a type of Chinese traditional drama popular in provinces such as Hubei, Jiangxi, Hunan, Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong and Guangxi Provinces. In each province, a distinction is made between them by naming it after the places, such as “Huangmei tea-picking drama”, “Jichun tea-picking drama” and “Yangxin tea-picking drama” in Hubei, and “Yuebei tea-picking drama” in Guangdong. Though these types of drama have a multitude of items, the time of their development is generally from the middle period of the Qing Dynasty to the late Qing Dynasty.

tea set
Tea and Fine Art

Fine art is a “design art”, which creates visual images through the devices such as composition of a picture, design and color using. Therefore, apart from the generally regarded painting and sculpture, its extent or content even include architecture. The sculpture technique in tea culture is mainly concentrated on the tea set such as pot, bowl, cup and calyx, the form of tea ball and cake and their facing. For example, the dragon and phoenix tribute tea of Beiyuan in the Song Dynasty were very particular about the patterns of their facing, which were frequently changed. In the palace, there were also activities of adding other ornaments to the tribute tea, which was then called “embroidery tea”. 

Tea Couplet

The tea couplet is a dazzling fresh flower in the treasury of couplets in China. There is no limit on the number of characters but it requires antithesis, neatness and coordination in the level and oblique tones. It evolved from the form of poetry. In China, in all the sites with the theme of “keeping up a friendship with tea”, you will often find tea couplets with the content of tea life hanging in the courtyard or on the stone pillars of tea shop, tea house, tea room, tea leaves shop, tea spa, on the wall of the halls where tea lore, tea art and tea etiquette performances are conducted and even in the living room of tea lovers. They not only have the beauty of primitive simplicity and elegance, but also present a feeling of social morality, honesty and uprightness, providing people with association and adding temperament and interest to tea tasting.

Tea Proverb

Tea proverb mainly originates from tea drinking and production practice. It is a generalization or statement about tea drinking and production experience, which is preserved and goes round in the form of proverbs through handing down by heart and mouth. Tea proverb is not only a precious heritage of tea science or tea culture of our country, but also a beautiful flower with strong and pervasive fragrance in the folk culture of our country from the perspective of creation or literature.

What are the categories of Chinese tea?
Green Tea
tea field

Green tea keeps the original color of the tea leaves without fermentation during processing. This category consists mainly of Longjing tea of Zhejiang, Maofeng of Huangshan Mountain in Anhui and Biluochun produced in Jiangsu.

Black Tea

Black tea, known as “red tea” in China, is fermented before baking. It is a later variety developed on the basis of the green tea. The best brands of black tea are Qihong of Anhui, Dianhong of Yunnan, Suhong of Jiangsu, Chuanhong of Sichuan and Huhong of Hunan.

Wulong Tea

Wulong tea is a variety half way between the green and the black teas, being made after partial fermentation. It is a specialty from the provinces on China's southeast coast Fujian, Guangdong and Taiwan.

Compressed Tea

Compressed tea is compressed and hardened into a certain shape. It is good for transport and storage and is mainly supplied to the ethnic minorities living in the border areas of China. As compressed tea is black, so it is also known in China as “black tea”. Most of the compressed tea is in the form of bricks, so it is generally called “brick tea”, though it is sometimes also in the form of cakes and bowls. It is mainly produced in Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces. The most famous one is “Pu Er Tea” in Yunnan Province.

Scented Tea

Scented tea is made by mixing fragrant flowers in the tea leaves in processing. The flowers commonly used for this purpose are jasmine and magnolia among others. Jasmine tea is a well-known favorite with the northerners of China and with a growing number of foreigners.

Why Chinese tea can keep you healthy?

Tea has been one of the daily necessities in China since time immemorial. Countless numbers of people like to have their after meal tea. A popular proverb among them says, “Rather go without salt for three days than without tea for a single day.”
Medically, the tea leaf contains a number of chemicals, of which 20-30% is tannic acid, known for its anti-inflammatory and germicidal properties. It also contains an alkaloid, a stimulant for the nerve centre and the process of metabolism. Tea with the aromatics in it may help resolve meat and fat and thus promote digestion. It is, therefore, of special importance to people who live mainly on meat. Tea contains various vitamins. For smokers, it helps to discharge nicotine out of the system. After wining, strong tea may prove to be a sobering pick-me-up.
In summer, tea can dispel the heat and bring on instant cool with a feeling of relaxation. For this reason, tea-houses abound in towns and market villages in the south of China and provide elderly retirees with the locales to meet and chat over a cup of tea.

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