The History of the Chinese tea and the legends around it
In China, tea drinking has always been a part of the culture. The country has always been a big producer of tea leaves and used to import it to European countries, thanks to the Silk Road. The tea leaves can be boiled straight or can be let to dry in the sun first.
There are different legends around the tea and why it was first drunk by the Chinese. One of them is about Shennong, a legendary hero and the father of Chinese Medicine, who tasted different wild plants in order to see which ones were poisonous or not. He was poisoned many times during this process and what saved him were the leaves of a plant with white flowers. As it is believed that he had a transparent body, he could directly see what the plants were doing to him. They cured him, purified his body, perfumed his breath and left a fresh feeling in his mouth. It neutralized the toxins of the poisonous plants. He believed that this was the doing of the gods who wanted to save him. Tea was then first used as a medicine and leaves were directly prepared in boiling water.
Throughout times, spices were added to tea leaves and it was compressed as small pancakes. Tea has then become a privilege and became a delightful experience, especially under the Tang Dynasty. It became popular in the royal palace and among intellectuals.
Different types of Chinese tea
China has been famous for its Green tea (which was the oldest one cultivated, approximately 5,000 years ago) which is made from the new shoots of the plant. They are left to dry accordingly to the type of tea wanted. It is mainly produced in the provinces of Jiangxi, Anhui and Zhejiang.
Yellow tea, whose leaves are left to dry naturally, has an aroma close to green and white teas. It was served to the emperors as yellow was the imperial colour.
White tea is a kind of green tea that hasn’t been fermented and has been quickly dried. It is mainly cultivated in the Fujan province. White tea got his name from poor Chinese people who didn’t have any tea and would offer boiled water to their guests.
The Oolong tea is a unique tea, with characteristics from green and red tea. It is believed to be a beauty enhancer and helps with the process of fat loss.
The second biggest tea category is Black tea whose leaves are rolled, fermented and dried and it leaves a red colour when infused.
Dark tea is the most fermented one (a bacteria’s help is needed for its process), it dates back to the 16th century and is popular in Hong Kong, Japan and Southeast Asia. Pu’er tea is a kind of dark tea that is over 2000 years old. It is made from a large-leaf variety plant that grows in a defined area. Later on, it is compressed or shaped into bricks.
The Chinese tea Ceremony
The Chinese tea ceremony has become a ritual, with special utensils, and even a lifestyle that is a reflection of multiple philosophical movements like Taoism, Confucian and Buddhism. It also teaches virtues and a certain etiquette while being a stress relieving and peaceful moment. It used to be a sign of respect where the younger generation would invite the older ones for a cup of tea. On the other hand, offering tea was a way of apologising. It was also a way of showing gratitude and was used during wedding ceremonies in order to unite both families.
Chinese tea ceremonies are nowadays mainly done in tea houses called Guangdong in Cantonese. Ceremonies are prepared in advance, the choice of tea is extremely important and time is needed to prepare the soul for the ritual. There are 6 main steps to the ritual :
There are 8 main steps to the Chinese tea ceremony:
We hope that this article will trigger your curiosity and that one day, you’ll have the chance to enjoy a true Chinese Tea Ceremony! With that being said, we are having a 10% off summer tea. Come by and take a look at our quality teas or use SUMMER2019 for online shop.
The Great Tea Company
Disclaimer: We are not associated with any local or oversea tea organization.
Staff at Great Tea Road Co