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Chinese Tea - History Types Benefits and Ceremony

Brief Introduction

Chinese Tea is a beverage that made from the dried tea leaves and boiled water. As one of the three major beverages in the world, Chinese Tea is becoming the commonest, most popular and most wholesome beverage. People drink it in daily basis for salubrity and taste cultivation. With a history of 3000 years, the Chinese Tea is not just a beverage any more, but a cultural symbol of China.

Chinese Tea

History of Chinese Tea

The development of Chinese tea can be roughly divided into eight stages: Origin in Primitive Period, Utilization in Xia, Shang and Zhou Dynasties, Initiation of Chinese Tea Culture from Spring and Autumn and Warring Periods to Han Dynasty, Beginning of Chinese Tea Culture from Han Dynasty to Sui Dynasty, Formation of Chinese Tea Culture in Sui and Tang Dynasties, Development Summit of Chinese Tea Drinking Culture in Song Dynasty, and Diversification of Tea Drinking Art in Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Origin of Chinese Tea

Entering the Neolithic Age, humans not only learned how to make and use production tools, they also developed the cropping and aquaculture, greatly improving the dietary structure. According to the The Holy Husbandman's Classic on Roots and Herbs, Shennong (3245 B.C - 3080 B.C) had tasted hundreds kinds of herbs and roots and discovered the medicinal value of the tea leaves.

Utilization of Chinese Tea

In Xia, Shang and Zhou Dynasties, Chinese people began to utilize the tea leaves. Along with the diversification of grains, vegetables, and fruits, ancient Chinese people also learned to use and produce seasonings, making food more tasty and nutritious. As the Chinese tea leaves was originally used in medicine, people in these eras continued to explore its medicinal functions.

Prior to the Shang Dynasty, tea was regarded as a treasure and mostly offered as a sacrifice. While after Shang Dynasty, people began to plant tea trees and use tea leaves as tribute. According to the "Huayang Guozhi", the ancient Sichuan people used to offer tea leaves as tribute to Wu King of Western Zhou Dynasty. Meanwhile, the Book of Songs (folk book) also depicted a lot about the tea leaves. The earliest tea making was quite simple and rough until in late Zhou Dynasty, people began to stress the taste and cooking of the tea leaves, laying foundation for Chinese tea culture.

Initiation of Chinese Tea Culture

The Chinese Tea Culture is initiated between Spring and Autumn and Warring Periods and Han Dynasty. In the Spring and Autumn and Warring Periods, tea leaves were made into daily meals. As the tea leaves taste bitter, people referred them as the bitter tea. This is also the beginning of tea eating and also the initiation of the tea culture. Meanwhile, with the introduction of Buddhism, the vegetarian food prevailed. People furthered explored the use of tea leaves. To better save tea leaves, people in this time began to collect the fresh tea leaves and dry them.

Beginning of Chinese Tea Culture

From Western Han to Sui Dynasty, the tea culture began. With the development of tea leaves production, tea leaves market appeared and commercial tea was traded. The earliest tea leaves market was in Chengdu and Wuyang. Meanwhile, a lot of literature included the tea planting, making and cooking techniques. In the Six Dynasties, especially the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316), Buddhism prevailed, promoting the production of tea leaves. There are three reasons why tea leaves were closely related to Buddhism. 1. Drinking tea could help Buddhist disciples stay awake all night during their meditation. 2. Tea leaves could help to digest. 3. Drinking tea could suppress the human desire and help them to focus. Tea leaves in a way helped the Buddhism to spread. All these laid foundation for the further development of tea culture.

Formation of Chinese Tea Culture

In Sui and Tang Dynasties, the Chinese country achieved the unprecedented unity. The economic and cultural communications between ethnics promoted the development and prosperity of Chinese culture and helped to form the Chinese Tea Culture. There was a folk tale that Wen Emperor of Sui Dynasty used to have headache. He dreamed of an immortal telling him a kind of herb could ease the pain. Later, he acquired such herb (the tea leaves) and kept drinking it, his headache did gradually disappeared. Since then, the tea drinking became a fashion around the whole China. In Tang Dynasty, people further explored the cooking methods of tea leaves and put forward the diet therapy regimen. In the middle Tang Dynasty, the first tea monograph “The Book of Tea” came out.

Development Peak of Chinese Tea Culture

In the Song Dynasty, the Chinese Tea Culture further developed and reached a peak. In this period, the tea plantations were greatly expanded and the production increased dramatically, along with which was the advancement of tea making techniques. The biggest tea making technique was that Song people began to steam and fry green loose tea leaves instead of cake tea leaves as in Tang Dynasty. This advancement was a technique revolution, greatly improving the taste of commercial tea leaves. People also attached more importance in the tea drinking sanity. As people couldn’t live without drinking tea, the Song government began to control the supply of tea leaves and executed the policy of “Trade of Tea and Horse”. A load of tea leaves could trade one battle-steed. With the prevailing of tea drinking, the “Tea Fighting” appeared. People tended to hunt for better tea leaves and bettered their tea making process to produce better tea beverage. The tea appreciation and drinking at that time were more like a spiritual enjoyment for Song people. More tea monographs came out.

Diversification of Chinese Tea Culture

In Ming Dynasty, the looses tea leaves were further explored and six types of tea appeared. Meanwhile, different tea beverage making methods appeared, driving the production of tea set. One of the greatest creation was the dark-red enameled pottery.

In Qing Dynasty, people focused on the discovery of tea types, enriching the tea types of China. At that time, the countries that produced tea leaves only had red or green tea, while China had six major types of tea and its making techniques were unparalleled. The capitalist and imperialist powers fought for the tea export control. Britain was one and the most fierce of them. It controlled the export of Chinese tea leaves for over 200 years. At the beginning, the British businessmen just bought the tea leaves with silver dollars. Later, they traded tea leaves with cloth, but the quantity demanded for cloth were very limited. So they turned to trade opium for tea leaves. The out-flowing of tea leaves reached the highest point in 1880. The imperialist powers monopolized the market, causing a lot of tea leaves unsalable. In a time, Qing government distributed tea leaves to soldiers as salary. Tea beverage making was more causal and the public tea culture was formed.

Chinese Tea Culture

Seven Major Types of Chinese Tea and Ten Best Tea Brands

7 Major Types of Chinese Tea

1.Green Tea

The Green Tea doesn’t belong to the fermented tea. It is the oldest and most popular tea in China, and mainly produced in Henan, Anhui, Zhejiang, Fujian, Sichuan, Yunan, Guangxi, Hubei and Shaanxi.

Green Tea

2.Yellow Tea

The Yellow Tea is the lightly fermented tea, and mainly produced in Sichuan, Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei, Anhui, Zhejiang and Guangdong.

Yellow Tea

3.Red Tea

The Red Tea is the fully fermented tea, and mainly produced in Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Anhui, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Fujian.

Red Tea

4.Oolong Tea

The Oolong Tea is the generic term for half-fermented tea. The main production areas for Oolong Tea are Guangdong, Fujian and Taiwan.

Oolong Tea

5.White Tea

The White Tea belongs to non-fermented tea and it is mainly produced in Fujian.

White Tea

6.Black Tea

The Black Tea is the late fermented tea. It’s a unique tea only existed in China. The major producing areas of the Black Tea are Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan, Yunnan and Guangxi.

Black Tea

7.Herbal Tea

Any tea that made from flowers, leaves, seeds or roots are called herbal tea, such as Chrysanthemum tea, wolfberry tea and ginsen tea.

Herbal Tea

10 Most Best Tea Brands

1.West Lake Longjing Tea (Dragon Well Tea)

2.Jiangsu Biluochun Tea

3.Anhui Maofeng Tea

4.Hunan Junshan Yinzhen Tea

5.Xinyang Maojian Tea

6.Anhui Keemun Black Tea

7.Anhui Guapian Tea

8.Duyun Maojian Tea

9.Wuyi Rock Tea

10.Fujian Tieguanyin Tea

10 Benefits of Chinese Tea

1.Drinking Chinese Tea can refresh one’s mind and strengthen one’s memory and thinking capabilities;

2.Tea leaves contain a lot of micro elements that can benefit human body;

3.Drinking tea can prevent senile cataract;

4.Drinking tea can excite the nervous centralis and strengthen one’s athletic ability;

5.Tea leaves can help to control the growth of malignant cells;

6.Drinking tea can help to lose weight, especially the Oolong Tea;

7.Drinking tea can help to prevent the hypertension, arteriosclerosis and cerebral thrombosis;

8.Drinking tea can allay tiredness, promote the metabolism and help to maintain the normal functions of heart, blood vessel and intestines;

9.Drinking tea can restrain the aging of human cells and prolong life span;

10.Drinking tea can prevent dental decay and eliminate multiple types of bacteria, preventing stomatitis, sphagitis, enteritis and dysentery.

4 Don’ts You Should Know About Tea Drinking

Do Not Drinking Strong Tea

Drinking strong tea will make human body too excited, harming the blood vessel system and nervous system.

Do Not Drink Tea Before Sleep

Drinking tea before sleep can cause insomnia and impact your spirit in day time.

Do Not Drink During Meal

It’s ok to have a little tea before or during the meal. But too much or too strong tea will compromise the nutrition you absorbed from the meal.

Do Not Have Tea After Drinking Alcohol

After drinking, the ethanol will pass your intestines and enter blood vessels and be transformed into acetic acid. The acetic acid will be disposed into carbon dioxide and water. However, if you drink tea, the theophylline will immediately help the acetaldehyde to go to your kidney, which will stimulate your kidney. Thus, the people who drink strong tea after drinking are prone to have nephropathy. In addition, the tea can also excite your heart just as the ethanol, those two elements come together will do more harm to you.

Tips for Seasonal Tea Drinking

Flower Tea for Spring

In Spring, everything begins to revive, but human beings are likely to feel tired. It’s best to have a cup of flower tea. Its sweet flavor will disperse your drowsiness and refresh your mind.

Recommended tea: Jasmine tea.

Green Tea for Summer

In Summer, the hot weather will make people inspirited. A cup of non-fermented green tea will clear your heat and help to digest.

Recommended tea: Biluochun Tea, Longjing Tea and Maofeng Tea.

Oolong Tea for Autumn

In Autumn, the weather turns to be dry, a cup of Oolong tea will do you good.

Recommended tea: Rock Tea and Tieguanyin Tea

Red Tea for Winter

In Winter, the weather becomes cold, making it necessary to keep warm. The red tea contains rich protein and sugar, which can strengthen the body’s cold resistance.

Recommended tea: Qihong Tea.

Chinese Tea Ceremony

Step 1: Clean hands and admire the tea set

Clean hands and prepare for tea making. Bring out the tea set for guests to admire. The tea set should better be the chinaware from Jingde Town or the Zisha pot from Yixing.

Step 2: Warm the Teapot and Cups

All the teapot and cups shall be cleaned with hot water for both sanity and preheating the tea set.

Step 3: Put Tea Leaves into the Teapot

Put the moderate amount of tea leaves into the teapot.

Step 4: Clean the Tea Leaves

Pour the boiling water into the teapot and allow the tea leaves to be soaked in water for a few minutes and then pour out the water immediately. The impurities on the surface of tea leaves will be filtered.

Step 5: Brew Tea

Pour boiling water into the teapot again. Remember to pour three times before the teapot is full.

Step 6: Take Out the Floating Tea Leaves

The water level must be a little higher than the mouth of the teapot. Then, carefully use the pot lid to take out the floating tea leaves so that people won’t taste the tea leaves.

Step 7: Cover the Teapot with Pot Lid

Cover the teapot with the lid to store the sweetness inside. The preheating process is also for this purpose.

Step 8: Divide Teacups

Prepare for tea drinking. Divide the cups into two sets, one for tea smelling and one for tea tasting, and put them all on the saucer.

Step 9: Pour Tea into Teacups

Gently pour exactly the same amount of tea in each cup for tasting and be careful not to splash.

Step 10: Pour Tea Soup into the Teacups for Smelling

Pour the tea soup into cups for smelling and keep in mind, the tea should take 70% of the cup.

Step 11: Offer Tea

Hold the tea cup with both hands and offer it gently to the guests.

Step 12: Smell Tea

Guests will pour the tea soup into the teacup for tasting and gently smell the sweetness of tea.

Step 13: Taste Tea

Guests slowly taste the tea, between the tea, they can talk.

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