Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? - how did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea.--Sydney Smith (English essayist, early 1800s)
Chinese tea is important part of Chinese culture. It's as ancient as the country. The best known teas are anti-aging green tea and wu long tea; mellow pu-erh tea, beautiful flowering tea or blooming tea, flower tea and jasmine green tea, etc., and they are normally loose leaf teas.
As one of the four oldest civilizations, the Chinese initiated tea drinking, which dates back to 2737 B.C. Generations of tea growers and producers have been perfecting the art of making tea. Tea is not just a commodity; it has become a form of art.
It's not surprising that tea, with a number of unique regional varieties, is the most popular drink among all Chinese drinks.
Chinese Tea in the Eyes of the Chinese
Being part of China's long history, tea culture has been an ingredient of Chinese heritage. If you get to know how to make and appreciate different kinds of tea, youll have more than one PHD degree.
Some drink tea as a simple pleasure, even just to quench thirst as if drinking water; others take deep interest in tea and enjoy it sophisticatedly as one way of living, paying attention to details on tea and teaware preparation, steeping techniques and tea etiquette. During the tea-drinking process, tea knowledge, life philosophy, history, teaware appreciation, music, etc., seem to be steeped into the tea and rise with the tea's aroma to cultivate an ambiance of peace and deep joy.
As you can see, tea is not just everyday living for Chinese people; it's also poetic and philosophical. Normally, tea leaves are used three times before being discarded. It has been related to stages of life, or life experiences, beautifully. The meaning goes like this: the first cup of tea gives out a certain degree of bitterness; after it has gone, a lingering sweetness emerges, flavorful yet subtle. The third cup follows with its refreshing clearness and light fragrance.
"De Quincy says quite correctly that tea 'will always be the favourite beverage of the intellectual,' but the Chinese seem to go further and associate it with the highminded recluse."--Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living
The Classification of Chinese Tea
Chinese teas vary in different regions. They can be roughly classified as following:
Wu Long Tea is also known as Oolong tea, Wu-long tea, or Wulong. It's a common ingredients of Chinese Weight Loss Tea.
Both science and anti aging concerns have developed globally, and so has the reputation and usage of Wu-long Tea. Much scientific research data has pointed out that Wu-long tea, like green tea, provides specific anti aging nutrition.
There are various ways to enjoy tea; with the introduction of flowering tea, tea is no longer just the focus of our taste buds and nose. The flowers simply blossom in the hot water right in front of you, revealing their vibrant color in gorgeous designs. Tantalizing, aromatic, and romantic, you can feel your stress and anxiety trickling away when the beauty of the tea catches your attention and heart.
Flower Tea (Hua Cha)
there are two different ways to enjoy a edible flower as tea: one is to put tea leaves and flowers in the pot together, or just flowers. Another way is more subtle; it's only tea leaves you can see, but you have no doubt that you also taste and smell the flowers that aren't there at all.
Pu-erh Tea is fermented tea and is also called puer tea, pu'er tea or puerh tea. A good wedding present in some areas in China.
What's unique about this Chinese tea is that it goes through the process of fermenting besides certain levels of oxidization that other kinds of teas have.
Of all the listed teas above, some people categorize them into two kinds:
Loose leaf tea is generally favored over tea bag, which is a product of modern life. The ancient China seems to love the old way of tea drinking and it has good reasons to do so. Click here to see why.
The Origin of Chinese Tea
The story of the beginning of tea incudes an important person in it. His name was Shennong.
Shennong was a legendary Emperor in early Chinese history. He walked on earth 5000 years ago and was well loved by his people because of his respectful character and suposedly superhuman abilities.
He has been credited for Chinese medicines and many other agricultual products and developments. Actually, his name tells all. It means the god of herbs and agriculture.
It's Shennong who discovered tea and agriculturally made use of it. However, there are two dominant versions about how he discovered it. The version that circulates in English is somehow different from the one in Chinese.
Shennong had advanced knowledge in many areas, including the importance of preparing food and drink safely. He insisted that drinking water should be boilded first to prevent water-borne illnesses.
One summer day, he went to visit a distant part of his realm. When he was resting on the journey, his helper began to boil water for the group to drink. Somehow some dried leaves from a nearby bush fell into the boiling water, and a refreshing aroma rose up. The water became slightly brown.
Shennong was intrigued. He tried it like he always did whenever he wanted to identify a herb medicine. The result? He liked it and tea was born.
(Story will be added soon.)
Chinese Tea Related Readings: