Chinese Tea & Tea Culture

Chinese Tea & Tea Culture

We may all know the tea is sorted in Green Tea, Black Tea, Oolong Tea, Compressed Tea and Scented Tea. However, many of us may not know the tea leaves of all these different sorts of tea may come from a same garden or even a same tea tree.

 

China is the homeland of tea. It is believed that China has tea-shrubs as early as five to six thousand years ago, and human cultivation of teaplants dates back two thousand years. In 758AD, Luyu, a tea researcher, wrote the book Tea, the world¡¯s first monograph on tea about the history of tea cultivation, processing, function, tea set, tea customs and so on. Ever since then, tea doesn¡¯t only refer to the plant or the beverage made of tea plant, but represent the culture related to tea.

 

Tea can easily be carried and made. Today in China, people drink tea a lot, because many people believe the tea is the healthiest beverage. Inviting friends or business partners for tea is one of the best ways to show one¡¯s hospitality and respect.

 

According to the different methods by which it is processed, Chinese tea may be classified into five categories:

 

1) Green tea: Green tea is the variety which keeps the original colour of the tea leaves without fermentation during processing. This category is mainly represented by Longjing tea, Huangshan Maofeng Tea and Bi Luo Chun Tea.

 

2) Black tea: Black tea, known as "red tea" in China, is the category which is fully fermented before baking; it is a later variety developed on the basis of the green tea. One of the best brands of black tea is Qimen Black Tea.

 

3) Oolong tea: This represents a variety half way between the green and the black teas, being made after partial fermentation. It is a specialty from the provinces on China¡¯s southeast coast and represented by Dongding Oolong Tea.

 

4) Compressed tea: This is the kind of tea which is compressed and hardened into a certain shape. It is good for transport and storage and is mainly supplied to the ethnic minorities living in the border areas of the country. As compressed tea is black in colour in its commercial form, it is also known in China as "black tea". Most of the compressed tea is in the form of bricks; it is, therefore, generally called "brick tea", though it is sometimes also in the form of cakes and bowls. Pu-erh Tea is the best example of this category.

 

5) Scented tea: This kind of tea is made by mixing fragrant flowers in the tea leaves in the course of processing. The flowers commonly used for this purpose are jasmine, magnolia and osmanthus. Jasmine tea is a well-known favourite tea in northern China or foreigners and osmanthus tea is more popular in southern China such as Guilin.

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