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Chinese Tea Culture

chinese tea culture
China Tea Culture is the quintessence of China elite culture. Traditionally, Tea is the must of the nobles and drinking tea,especially some famous tea like West Lake Dragon Well Tea, Tai Lak Biluochun Tea, Huangshan Mountain Maofeng Tea, Anxi Tieguanyin Tea, and so on, is considered as a symbol of the social identity. The picture shows the tea plantation and the tea pickers in Hangzhou

Tea is the national drink in China. Chinese tea just as Chinese character has a long history, and serves as an important part of Chinese long-standing history and culture. As of today, Chinese tea has spread every corner of China from academic research to daily life. Chinese traditional culture to a most degree is closely connected with Chinese tea, even at present, drinking tea is also one of the identities to judge a person is a Chinese or not. In Chinese literature, art, philosophy and religions, Chinese tea is always associated more or less. If people or academician talk about or research on China and Chinese culture, Chinese tea will be surely mentioned or connected inevitably.

This is tea in China not only the must of people’s daily life but also the essence of the culture and history. Chinese tea is connected closely with Chinese Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Roughly, since Tang Dynasty, drinking tea is a must for self-cultivation. Chinese Zen or Chan philosophy is also linked with drinking tea. In China, traditionally tea drinkers were always considered to be high-level or gentleman-like men and they used to be highly respected by society, because drinking tea is the show of personal morality, education, principle and status. Chinese tea-drinking popularity for sure brought the large production of tea-china or porcelains and also brought the flourish of Chinese porcelain culture. Chinese tea also makes a great contribution to the development of Chinese elite culture or learner’s culture. Conventionally, Chinese scholars has the common ideal academic life that is in his personal study or teahouse, he could pleasantly have a free and deep communication with their bosom friends or happily create poems or calligraphies with their best friends when they enjoying the tea and the natural beauty. So anciently, Chinese teahouse was very popular with learners not only the excellent service but also the humanistic atmosphere surrounded by the fragrance of tea. Teahouse is the by-product of Chinese tea culture but it also the historical evidence of Chinese tea history. Currently, people can also feel such a kind of humanistic atmosphere in Beijing like Lao She Teahouse and East China like Hangzhou, Suzhou, Yangzhou, Nanjing, Wuxi, Shaoxing and Shanghai and so on. It is still dynamic and vigorous.

As for the origin of Chinese tea, apart from the ancient records, the folklore is also available. Tea in fact started as a kind of medicine in China to treat some illness of human being. It is said that tea was firstly discovered and tasted by Emperor Shennong or Shennongshi, who was one of Chinese oldest forefathers and the inventor of Chinese herbal medicine and agriculture. Later, as it widely extended, in Tang Dynasty, a special book named Chajing(茶经,Book on Tea) was professionally written by Lu Yu, who was respectably called the Saint of Tea. Together with old China's influence and cultural communication overseas, Chinese tea culture largely spread in the world. As early as Han Dynasty, Chinese tea had been spread to India and Turkey. In Tang Dynasty, thanks to the cultural communication of Buddhism, Chinese tea was planted in Japan. Afterwards, Chinese tea successively spread in the world and many peoples formed the custom of drinking tea. In some countries, Drinking tea like China has been a culture and widely-accepted exhibition of local custom and history. In Japan, due to the long-term custom of drinking tea, tea culture, called Sado(茶道), has been an important culture of Japan to distinguish themselves in the world. Tea has gradually developed into the number one beverage in China and now is the number one beverage in the world.

Variety of Tea in China

Chinese Tea is comprised of a variety of tea such as Green Tea, Black Tea, White Tea, Blue Tea, Yellow Tea and Dark Tea

Green Tea . Green tea in China has he maximum production. Green tea has the longest history, roughly 3000 year history. The major planting areas are in Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui and Jiangxi. The famous representatives are Dragon-Well Tea of West Lake (Xihu Longjing), Xinyang Maojian and Biluochun.

Black Tea. Black tea is named after the red color of tea water. Black tea in China can be divided into Xiaozhong black tea, Gongfu black tea and Hongsui Tea. Black tea is Chinese second largest tea in production. The famous representatives are Black Tea of Yunnan and Black Tea of Yixing.

Oolong Tea(Blue Tea). Oolong tea in China belongs to half-fermented tea, and is a kind of tea with vivid characters. Oolong tea is greatly helpful for health. It can decompose the fat and it is good for losing weight and body-building. In Japan it is called Skin-care tea.

White Tea. White tea belongs to slightly-fermented tea. It is the treasure of Chinese teas. The making procedure of white tea can be separated into the withering and drying, and it is unnecessary for baking and kneading. The famous representatives are Baimudan(White Peony) and Baihao Yinzheng.

Yellow Tea. During the making procedure, due to the untimely operation, the tea would turn yellow. The yellow tea can be divided into Huangyacha (Yellow-Bud Tea) which is represented by Junshanyinya (silver bud of Junshan mountain)of Hunan province, Mengdinghuangya (yellow bud of Mengding)of Sichuan province and Huoneiya of Anhui province; Huangxiaocha(Yellow Little Tea), which is represented by Weishanmaojian of Hunan province; Huangdacha(Yellow Large Tea)which is available in Huoshan county of Anhui province.

Dark Tea. During the making procedure, the tea is gathered together for long time, and it would be darken. Hence it is called dark tea. The dark tea can be drunk directly and also can be suppressed to be brick tea such as Pu-Er Tea. The dark tea is widely welcomed by minorities of China such as Tibetan people, Mongolian people and other peoples of China. It is the necessity of their daily life.

Chinese Tea Art

As for tea, China has tea art or Chayi, similar to Japanese tea ceremony or Sado. It is the professional show of Chinese tea culture and the way for making and drinking tea. It also has a long history.

Initially, Chinese tea art was originated from Tang Dynasty. Tea art consists of the skills for judging and commenting tea, the artistic procedures for making tea and the atmosphere for enjoying tea. It is the show of the ways of making tea and the soul enjoyment. The way for making tea generally include: tea selection, water selection, tea-making technique, tea-china selection and the environmental refinement. The background of tea art is also very important, because it usually the best way to show the deep thought of tea culture. Generally, the classical background music played with Chinese classical instruments like Chinese guzhen, flute, xiao and xiong and so on is available in tea art in order to give the drinkers or watchers the enjoyment of traditional aesthetics and Zen philosophy or give the tasters the quite environment like they stay in deep mountains or natural environment without the noise of the society and the anxiety of the soul. Tea in common life is widely used for both keeping fit and spiritual improvement. During the tea drinking, a real drinker is strict about the usage of water, tea type and utensils as well as the atmosphere selection. Drinking tea traditionally can raise personal morality and help to harmonize the interpersonal relations. Tea drinkers usually like making friends and showing their personalities by virtue of drinking tea.

Anciently, drinking tea was the best way for learners to inspire themselves; Taoists used to drink tea for self-cultivation and keeping the oneness of soul and body; Buddhists used to drink tea for understanding deeply on Zen. Drinking tea also can judge a person’s character and level of moral. Drinking tea emphasizes on the feeling of objective environment and inner heart. In a word, understandably, drinking tea is the show of elegance, personality, status, educational background, religious belief and cultural pursuit. It is a systematic subject for further and careful research. Chinese culture learner always spends a lot of time in researching Chinese tea art and its humanistic history. Currently, in China, there is a themed museum named China Tea Museum which is located in Hangzhou. Visitors over here can concentratively see a lot of collections connected with Chinese tea history and tea culture.

People always ask why people get used to drinking tea and what the strong-points of drinking tea are. Generally, the answers are not accurate. There are several kinds of answers for why people get used to drinking tea. 1, For sacrificing, the earliest sacrifice was vegetable or some eatable plants, later, people found it was harmless and good for health, and then it became the beverage of human being. 2. From Herb Experiment, the tea originally was used by human being as a kind of herb medicine. 3. Tea was part of human being’s daily diet. Drinking tea is good for health. Drinking tea can relieve the caducity. Drinking tea is helpful for restraining angiocardiopathy. Drinking tea can prevent the cancer. Drinking tea is useful for presenting and curing the injury from radiation. Drinking tea is helpful for resisting and restraining the virus. Drinking tea is also useful for skin care and refreshment. Drinking tea is beneficial for fat digesting. And drinking tea is also good for teeth and eye care.


Writer: David from Seeraa International
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