Chinese tea culture refers to both making tea and drinking the tea in China. It is thought that Chinese people discovered tea in the Shennong era (~2400 B.C.), meaning that they’ve been drinking it for nearly 4500 years! This has allowed for many different traditions, expectations, and ideas about tea to evolve over time.
Since tea is one of the seven things (firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, vinegar, tea) to greet people when opening the door, drinking the beverage was very common in ancient China. The tea classics of Lu Yu, the tea sage of the Tang Dynasty, sounded the clarion call of Chinese tea culture in history. From then on, the spirit of tea permeated the imperial court and society, and penetrated Chinese poetry, painting, calligraphy, religion, and medicine. For thousands of years, China has not only accumulated a lot of material about tea planting and production, but also accumulated rich spiritual culture about tea.
1. Tea Classifications
There are many kinds of tea in China: Chaozhou Fenghuang Dancong tea, Taihu Lake smoked bean tea, Suzhou fragrant tea, Hunan Jiangyan tea, Chengdu Gaiwan tea, Taiwan frozen top tea, Hangzhou Longjing tea, Fujian oolong tea, etc. The main varieties are green tea, black tea, oolong tea, white tea, yellow tea and black tea.
茶 (chá): n. tea
nǐ xǐ huɑn hē nǎ zhǒng chá
你 喜 欢 喝 哪 种 茶？
What kind of tea do you like?
wǒ xǐ huɑn hē lǜ chá
我 喜 欢 喝 绿 茶。
I like green tea.
2. About Tea
毛尖(máo jiān) Maojian: produced in Xinyang, Henan Province, commonly known as the “king of green tea”.
龙井(lóng jǐng) Longjing: it is not only the name of a place in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, but also the name of a spring. The tea produced here also uses this name.
碧螺春(bì luó chūn) Biluochun: produced in Dongting mountain, Wu County, Jiangsu Province. The tea is picked in spring, and the finished products are closely intertwined with spiral shapes. It is said that during the reign of Emperor Kangxi, girls on Dongting mountain gathered tea and put it in the milk room without a basket. The tea got warm and had a strange fragrance. It was called “frightening killing” tea (“吓杀人”). Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty visited Taihu Lake in the south. He loved the fragrance of the tea, but he thought the name of the tea was not good. Because the tea had a spiral shape, Emperor Kangxi gave it the name “Biluochun”, meaning “green spiral spring). Biluochun became a tribute tea in the Qing Dynasty.
xìn yáng máo jiān chǎn liàng shǎo， cǎi zhāi yāo qiú gāo，suǒ yǐ bèi chēng wéi lǜ chá zhī wáng
信 阳 毛 尖 产 量 少， 采 摘 要 求 高， 所 以 被 称 为 绿 茶 之 王。
Xinyang Maojian is known as the king of green tea for its low yield and high picking requirements.
3. Tea Utensils
Tea sets, also known as tea ware in ancient times, were necessary tools in the process of tea making. They not only refer to the teapot and cups, but also other items that have a great influence on the quality of the final product for drinking.
The earliest teapots were made of gold, silver, jade, and other materials, but due to the rise of other technologies these were gradually replaced by copper and ceramic tea sets. Compared with gold and jade, copper tea sets are cheaper and perform better. Ceramic tea sets can hold the aroma of tea and, more importantly, the price is relatively low, so they are easy to promote and popularize.
nǐ huì pào chá ma
你 会 泡 茶 吗？
Can you make tea?
wǒ huì， zhǐ yào zhǔn bèi hǎo chá jù wǒ jiù kě yǐ pào chá
我 会 ， 只 要 准 备 好 茶 具 我 就 可 以 泡 茶。
I can, as long as the tea set is ready, I can make tea.
4. The Benefits of Tea
Among tea’s benefits is that of anti-aging. Tea contains a variety of antioxidants and nutrients, which help eliminate free radicals in the body. Chinese people believe that drinking 2-3 of tea every day can play a role in anti-aging. According to research, drinking tea can help with nervous system diseases, and tea polyphenols can help the brain carry out local regulation and improve memory.
Although there are many benefits of drinking tea, not everyone enjoys it and some can only drink it in small doses. Generally speaking, it is best to drink tea 1-2 times a day, about 3-5 grams each time.
cān hòu hē yī bēi chá，yǒu lì yú huǎn jiě yóu nì
餐 后 喝 一 杯 茶， 有 利 于 缓 解 油 腻。
A cup of tea after a meal is good for relieving greasiness.