The history of Chinese tea is a story of refinement and passion. The current methods of preparing and drinking Chinese tea took a very long time to develop. It started as a loyal drink for emperors and evolved to become of the best and loved beverage in the Chinese tradition and all over the world. It is difficult to exclude the impact of tea has on the culture of Chinese people. At various points throughout the history of tea in Chinese, it has once been used as a state currency and used as cash.
The origin of Chinese tea
Legendary emperor Shennong is credited to be the person who discovered tea in China. Shennong is said to have lived in the ancient era of Chinese history. He was a famous person who was well known for his edicts. One of Shennong’s edicts required people to boil water before the drink it. This edict leads to the discovery of tea.
According to Shennong, he decided to take a rest under a camellia tree one afternoon and boiled some water to drink as his used to do. It happened that dry leaves from the tree fall into the boiling water, creating a pot of tea. This was the first ever infusion of tea leaf. Surprised by all these, Shennong decided to take a sip of the tea and found it to be tasty and refreshing. Since then, tea has been enjoyed and grown throughout China and the world. According to this fist legend of tea, tea was first created in 2737BC.
Chinese has a fascinating and long history with tea. It first originated from the mountain wilderness of the south part of China, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Tea grew wild and large in these areas before it was even cultivated as a cash crop. These tea tresses are linked to the beginning of Chinese tea.
Originally tea was known for its medicinal qualities. For a long time, tea has been known for its effect in helping in digestion; this in one of the main reason why many Chinese prefer taking tea after their meals.
At first, tea stated as a very different beverage than it is right now. The Chinese history books cite tea drinking in the Zhou dynasty, which dates back to 1046 BC. At first, preparing tea was a simple process that only involved dropping a whole leaf infusion directly into a cup of water. A more advanced form of processing and extracting the now true flavor of tea from the leaf would follow later.
This dynasty existed between 206 BC and 220 AD. This is the duration which the Chinese people started to use tea as a medicinal drink to make people awake for a long period. At this time, tea was a very important commodity and could only be found in high ranking noble and for the emperor. Sihuan and Yunna were still the major places where tea was grown by that time. Tea was collected from these two regions and taken to the capital for the emperor’s use.
The culture of tea started to change very fast in the Tang dynasty. This was from 618 to 907 AD. Before this dynasty, tea was only considered as a product of the rich; it was during the Tang period that tea started to be widely available to many people and became an important beverage and central to the day to day aspects to Chinese people. It was also during this dynasty that the consumption of tea shed from being taken for medical ritual purposes to a social drink that was now consumed among friends and family. Tea becomes part of what is regarded and the seven essential things of Chinese life.
Evolution of tea processing
The Tang dynasty also leads to the processing of tea. Before this dynasty, raw tea leaves were being steamed before being passed into bricks called tea cakes. The cakes were ground down in a mortar, and then water poured over the tea that was in a powder form that diffused in water to form tea.
Tang dynasty saw everything change from use of raw tea leaves to loose leaf tea. In this process, tea leaves are roasted to dry up out the leaves. This process preserves a lot of essential tea flavor from the leaf. This is the method that tea in China is being made up to today.
History of different tea varieties in China
Different areas in China are well-known for producing a specific type of tea. Deferent regions produce different types of tea, including white tea, green tea, and oolong tea. Below is a classification of tea in China
This is one of the oldest types of tea in China history. It was first shaped into cakes and later dried into leaves. It is over 2,000 years old; brick tea is still being made.
Pu’er tea is considered as the oldest type of tea plant in China. Pu’er tea has been consumed and enjoyed for thousands of years. The largest producing province of green tea in China is Zhejiang province. Green tea has been used widely as an energy stimulant in history for a very long time all over the world.
Oolong tea is different from green tea as is it undergoes semi oxidization. This is a process that darkens the tea flavor and color. We have different stories on how oolong tea was discovered in China. Oolong tea is best known for improving skin texture and weight loss.
This is another famous tea variety in China. It is almost produced everywhere in China. It is well known for its delicate flavor. It is believed to be the first type of tea to be made because it is easy to prepare it; traditionally, it is just plucked, wilted, and dried. White tea is also considered as the healthiest form of tea because it does not undergo any processing stages.
This variety is favorite in southern China and Guilin. It is a product of many southern ethnicities.
Tea is an important crop to about the culture and economy of China, visiting china tea estates can be one of the amazing things as part of your vacation to China.