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Chinese Tea

Legends of the origin of tea go as far back as 2700 BC.
It is said that a Chinese emperor was sitting under a tree when leaves fell into the pot of water
he was boiling. He drank the water and found, to his surprise, that it made him feel uplifted
and revitalized. He concluded that the leaves had caused this and so brought some back for
further experimentation. This small incident triggered the beginning of tea drinking in China
and in the world.
According to another legend, tea was discovered by a poor woodcutter who was chopping
trees in the hills when he saw several monkeys plucking leaves off a tree and chewing them.
He tasted some of the leaves, liked it and brought some back to the village. He told others of
his discovery and soon, everyone was adding leaves from the tree to their drinks.
Tea history and culture
According to Lu Yu, the writer of the book Tea Classics in the Tang dynasty, Chinese tea
enjoyed a more than 4000 years history.
Tea was used as offerings in the West Zhou, vegetables in the Spring and Autumn period, and
medicine in the Warring period. Later in the West Han dynasty, it became a main commodity.
During 300 years between the Three Kingdoms period and the Northern and Southern
Dynasties, especially latter, Buddhism was popular and Buddhists applied tea to relieve sleep
in Za-zen, so tea trees planted along valleys around temples. Till the Tang dynasty tea became
popular in ordinary people. In the Ming dynasty, tea trade began to play an important role in
the government economy, the "Tea and Horse Bureau" was set up to supervise the tea trade.
In the 6th century, a Buddhist monk introduced tea to Japan and in the 16th century to Europe
by a Portuguese missionary. And tea became an international drink.
Now in China, tea family not only consists of traditional tea, but also tea beverage, tea food,
tea medicine and other tea products.
Just as coffee in the West, tea became a part of daily life in China. You can see teahouses
scattered on streets like cafes in the west. It has such a close relationship with Chinese that in
recent years, a new branch of culture related to tea is rising up in China, which has a pleasant
name of "Tea Culture". It includes the articles, poems, pictures about tea, the art of making
and drinking tea, and some customs about tea.
In the Song dynasty, Lu You, who is known as "Tea Sage" wrote Tea Scripture, and detailed
described the process of planting, harvesting, preparing, and making tea. Other famous poets
such as Li Bai, Du Fu and Bai Juyi once created large number of poems about tea. Tang Bohu
and Wen Zhengming even drew many pictures about tea.
Chinese are very critical about tea. People have high requirements about tea quality, water
and tea wares. Normally, the finest tea is grown at altitudes of 3,000 to 7,000 feet (910 to
2,124m). People often use spring water, rain and snow water to make tea, among them the
spring water and the rainwater in autumn are considered to be the best, besides rainwater in

Junshan and Yunwu (Cloud and Mist) Tea from Mt. HuangshanMaofeng Tea from Mt. Among various green tea. became common. Among various kinds of tea wares. The unglazed earthenware. cool. tea wares not only improve tea quality but also by-produce a tea art. they can be mainly classified into five categories. and it is said the other three tenth will be filled with friendship and affection. lacquer and other materials are available. Tea drinking became more popular in the Tang dynasty when tea wares made of metals were served for noblesse and civilians commonly used porcelain ware and earthenware. scented tea porcelain ware while Oolong tea performs best in purple clay tea ware. Usually. green tea. it can be divided to many kinds. Chinese will emphasis on water quality and water taste. To not take at least a sip might be considered rude in some areas. glass. reminds us the earliest utensils used in ancient China. According to the different ways of processing. people think different teas prefer different tea wares. Green tea prefers glass tea ware. Jiangsu Province occupied the top places. Jiangsu province and Jingdezhen. Huangshan. green tea. brick tea. black tea. Category Although there are hundreds of varieties of Chinese tea. a sharing of something enjoyable and a way of showing respect to visitors. as the oldest kind of tea. With its natural fragrance. dark-brown.rain seasons is also perfect. Tea wares had been used for a long time in China. A host will inject tea into teacup only seven tenth. Guangdong Province and the bodiless lacquer wares of Fujian Province emerged in the Qing dynasty. purple clay. cups. used in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces for baking tea today. that is. porcelain. like upturned bell. Skilled artisans bestow them artistic beauty. In its long history. tea bowls and trays etc. Chinese prefer pottery wares to others. It is baked immediately after picking. Lushan are most famous. Gilded multicolored porcelain produced in Guangzhou. Tea plays an important role in Chinese emotional life. Longjing (Dragon Well) Tea around the West Lake in Hangzhou. silver. Jiangxi province are the best choice. In China. scented tea. if the host held his teacup and said "please have tea". Tea is always offered immediately to a guest in Chinese home. it is a symbol of togetherness. Fine water must feature pure. Tea wares consist of mainly teapots. Nowadays. Yinzhen (Silver Needle) Tea from Mt. Moreover. Teapots made of porcelain and purple clay were very much in vogue during the middle of the Ming dynasty. the guest will take his conge upon the suggestion to leave. gray/white and white colors. The purple clay wares made from the Yixing. there are customs about tea. They were glazed in black. is widely welcomed by different people. In the Song dynasty tea bowls. porcelain wares made in Jingdezhen. sweet. clean and flowing. Gray/white porcelain tea wares predominated in the Yuan dynasty and white glazed tea wares became popular in the Ming dynasty. . the teacup should be empty in three gulps. tea wares made of gold. and Oolong tea. In China. Jiangxi Province and purple clay wares made in Yixing. Serving a cup of tea is more than a matter of mere politeness. copper. gray. In previous time.

Qimen Black Tea: Produced at Qimen County in Anhui. Yunnan and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Tieguanyin: Produced at Anxi County. Huangshanmaofeng: Produced at Mt. "Dian Hong"(originated in Yunnan). Oolong tea grows on cliffs. Hangzhou. usually pressed into brick shape. After the fermentation. Among this type. jasmine. which is very popular in Northern China. Oolong tea. Among them white tea is special and is not very familiar to most people. with an excellent combination of the freshness of green tea and the fragrance of black tea. Best Ten Chinese teas Longjing (Dragon Well): Produced at Longjing village near the West Lake. Biluochun: Produced at Wu County. its color changes from green to black. black tea is a kind of fermented tea. Sichuan. Famous varieties include "Silver Needle" and "White Peony". Fujian. jasmine tea is common. this kind of tea is as white as silver. The most famous black teas in China are " Qi Hong (originated in Anhui). Liuan Guapian: Produced at Liuan County in Henan. orchid and plum through an elaborate process. There are other kinds of tea.Black tea is much more favored by foreigners. Wuyi Rock Tea: Produced at Wuyi Mountain. Junshan Silver Needle: Produced at Qingluo Island on Dongting Lake. Different from green tea. Fujian. is mainly produced in Hunan. Duyun Maojian: Produced at Duyun Mountain. Just as its name suggests. The most famous one is "Pu'er Tea" made in Yunnan province. This kind of tea is popular with minority people in border regions. become popular with more and more people. Fujian. It is mainly produced in Zhenhe and Fuding in Fujian Province. the hard picking process make it the most precious tea. but popular in Southeast Asia. Huangshan in Anhui. Zhejiang. Teahouse Experience . in fact is a mixture of green tea with flower petals of rose. Jiangsu. Henan. Brick tea. Guizhou. and "Ying Hong" (originated in Guangdong). It has a good function in helping body building and dieting. Xinyang Maojian: Produced at Xinyang. Hubei. Brick tea is made from black tea or green tea and is pressed into blocks. Guangdong and Taiwan are the major producing areas of this kind of tea. Scented tea.

Tea steeped from green tea leaves is jade green to yellow-green in color and gives off the fragrance of fresh vegetables. vinegar. Tea that has not been fermented is called "green tea". The Japanese character for tea is written exactly the same as it is in Chinese. The Chinese call tea that undergoes full fermentation "red tea" (Hong Cha). to fruity. either directly or indirectly. During the mid-Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). . it may be low as 90 (194) or less for lightly fermented or green teas. is China. A Chinese saying identifies the seven basic daily necessities as fuel. The longer the fermentation. rice. The correct water temperature varies from tea to tea. At present. the originally deep green leaves become reddish-brown in color.tea. water temperature. He was later best known for summarizing the knowledge and experience of his predecessors and contemporaries into the first compendium in the world on tea--the Tea Classic (Cha Jing). Through fermentation. or "Black Dragon" (Wu-Long) tea is an example of a partiallyfermented tea. This tea is unique to China. In the West.tea is consumed by the largest number of people. the fragrance can range from floral. however. oil. it is known as "black tea". The Russians call it "cha'i". The habit of tea drinking spread to Japan in the 6th century but was not introduced to Europe and America till the 17th and 18th centuries. be avoided. I saw teahouses everywhere on the streets. The differences among the many kinds of tea available are based on the particular methods used to process the leaves. tender leaves of the tea tree. by all means. the darker the color.When I was in Chengdu. not only because of the numerous teahouses. Japan and Southeast Asia came to adopt the tea drinking custom. the amount of tea leaves used and the type of teapot." It really has a well-deserved reputation. Examples of green tea are "Dragon Well" (Long Jing) and "Green Snail Spring" (Biluochun). though pronounced slightly different. coffee and cocoa-. The English word "tea" sounds similar to the pronunciation of its counterpart in Xiamen (Amoy). The key to the whole process is the roasting and fermentation. Even neighboring countries--Korea."China has the best teahouses in the world and Chengdu has the best teahouses in China. The origin of all tea trees in other countries. a man named Lu Yu entered the Buddhist monkhood early in life but returned when older. special attention must be paid to the quality of the water. Tea is made from the young. more than forty countries in the world grow tea with Asian countries producing 90% of the world's total output. The words for tea leaves or tea as a drink in many countries are derivatives from the Chinese character "cha". For most fully fermented and moderately fermented kinds. it should be near boiling (100 or 212). salt. Tea made from black tea leaves is reddish-brown in color and has a malt-like aroma. Wulong. There is a saying. Hard water should. which sounds like "chaye" (tea leaves) as pronounced in northern China. Depending on the length of the roasting and degree of fermentation. the number of tea drinkers in the world is legion and still increasing. soy sauce. tea has been an indispensable part of the life of a Chinese. and tea. To make a good pot of tea. Soft water (water with a low mineral content) that is clear and fresh is required to steep tea. Of the three major beverages of the world-. The custom of drinking tea is deeply ingrained in almost all Chinese and has been for over a thousand years. to malty. but also because the special way of serving From ancient times to today. This work helped to popularize the art of tea drinking all across China. Now. to secular life. making avid tea drinkers of everyone from emperor and minister to street hawker and soldier.

When pests are discovered. It is good for transporting and storage and is mainly supplied to ethnic minorities living in the border areas of the country.The Categories of Tea Chinese tea may be classified into five categories according to the different methods of processing. Flowers commonly used for this purpose are jasmine and magnolia. Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Guangdong and Taiwan. It is mainly produced in Hubei. 5) Scented Tea: This kind of tea is made by mixing fragrant flowers in the tea leaves in the course of processing. The tea-cauldrons are heated . 4) Compressed Tea: This is the kind of tea which is compressed and hardened into a certain shape. is the category which is fermented before baking. Chuanhong of Sichuan and Huhong of Hunan. Dianhong of Yunnan. 1) Green Tea: Green tea is the variety which keeps the original color of the tea leaves without fermentation during processing. The new leaves must be parched in tea cauldrons. It is a later variety developed on the basis of the green tea. Tea Production A new tea plant must grow for five years before its leaves can be picked. soybean cakes or other varieties of organic manure are generally used. This work . To fertilize tea gardens. which used to be done manually. where the famous green tea Longjing (Dragon Well) comes from. The season of teapicking depends on local climate and varies from area to area. however. picking starts at the end of March and lasts through October. The best brands of black tea are Qihong of Anhui . The trunk of the old plant must then be cut off to force new stems to grow out of the roots in the coming year. This category consists mainly of Longjing tea of Zhejiang Province. Hunan. Top-grade Dragon Well tea. has been largely mechanized. Suhong of Jiangsu. It is a specialty from the provinces on China's southeast coast: Fujian. a plant may serve for about l00 years . 3) Wulong Tea: This represents a variety half way between the green and the blackteas. being made after partial fermentation. generally called "brick tea" though it is sometimes found in the form of cakes and bowls. it is also known in China as "black tea". A skilled picker can gather only 600 grams (a little over a pound) of green tea leaves in a day. still has to be stir-parched by hand. By repeated rehabilitation in this way. among others. it will be too old to be productive. seldom chemical fertilizers. Maofeng of Huangshan Mountain in Anhui Province and Biluochun produced in Jiangsu. with a total of 20-30 pickings from the same plants at intervals of seven to ten days. On the shores of West Lake in Hangzhou. As compressed tea is black in color in its commercial form. Most of the compressed tea is in the form of bricks. known as "red tea" (hong cha) in China. 2) Black Tea: Black tea. the affected plants will be removed to prevent spreading and also to avoid the use of pesticides. Longer interval cause the quality of the tea to deteriorate. At 30 years of age. therefore. Jasmine tea is a well-known favorite with the northerners of China and with a growing number of foreigners. doing only 250 grams every half hour.

3) The Southwest area: Embraces Sichuan. However. It also contains an alkaloid (5%. For this reason. 60. the tea leaf contains a number of chemicals.electrically to a temperature of about 25 degrees C. The best Dragon Well tea is gathered several days before Qingming (Pure Brightness. 5th solar term) when new twigs have just begun to grow and carry "one leaf and a bud. Strong tea taken just before bedtime will give rise to occasional insomnia. a stimulant for the nerve center and the process of metabolism. Medically. Yunnan. A popular proverb among them says. It takes four pounds of fresh leaves to produce one pound of parched tea. Areas in China where tea grows 1) The Jiangnan area: Lies south of the mid and lower reaches of the Changjiang (Yangtze) River and is the most prolific of China's tea-growing areas. 2) The Jiangbei area: Refers to a large area north of the same river. Guangxi. In summer or in warm climates. Some black tea is also produced. strong tea may prove to be a sobering pick-me-up.2 lbs) of finished tea. Too much tannic acid will affect the secretion of gastric juice." To make one kilogram (2. For the processes of grinding. Countless numbers of people like to have their after-meal cup of tea. Tea with aromatics in it may help resolve meat and fat and thus promote digestion. parching. After "wining". green as well as compressed teas. Most of its output is the green variety. of which 20-30% is tannic acid. this does not mean that the stronger the tea. Tea is also rich in various vitamins and helps smokers discharge nicotine from their systems. Pu'er tea of Yunnan Province enjoys a good sale in China and abroad. Guizhou and Tibet. Dragon Well tea of this grade was meant solely for the imperial household and therefore known as "tribute tea". In old days. Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. which is renowned both at home and abroad. tea seems to dispel the heat and bring on instant cool together with a feeling of relaxation. Green tea is the principal variety turned out there. or 74 degrees F. produce compressed tea to supply the minority areas in the Northwest. Fujian and Taiwan. various machines have been developed. Constant drinking of overly strong tea may induce heart and blood-pressure disorders in some people. like many of the ethnic minorities in China.000 tender leaves have to be plucked. tea-houses abound in towns and market villages in South China and provide elderly retirees with the locales to meet and chat over a cup of tea. consisting of the southern provinces of Guangdong. producing black. 4) The Lingnan area: This area. where the average temperature is 2-3 degrees Centigrade lower than in the Jiangnan area. which are also parts of this area. Advantages of Tea-Drinking Tea has been one of the daily necessities in China since time immemorial. reduce the milk of a breast-feeding mother and put a brown color . of special importance to people who live mainly on meat. known for its anti-inflammatory and germicidal properties. mainly caffeine). produces Wulong tea. "Rather go without salt for three days than without tea for a single day". It is therefore. turning out about 100 kilograms of finished tea an hour and relieving the workers from much of the drudgery. irritate the membrane of the stomach and cause indigestion or constipation. rolling. shaping and drying other grades of tea. the more advantages it will yield.

.on the teeth of young people. to ward off these undesirable effectssimply don't make your tea too strong. however. It's not difficult.