Tea in China


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.

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.

The Reasons for Drinking Tea

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.

Six Kinds of Chinese Tea

In China, Drinking tea like eating is the must for daily life. Someone may feel uncomfortable when lack of tea. In China, tea generally is separated into 6 kinds.

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.

China Top-Ten Famous Teas

Longjing Tea (Dragon-Well Tea,龙井茶). Longjing tea is produced in West Lake of Hangzhou and it is the most famous in 10 top famous teas. Longjing tea is planted in the mountains. For many years, Hangzhou is famous for both of West Lake and Dragon-Well Tea in the world. It is strongly featured by its viridescence, fragrance, sweetness and good look.

The making of dragon well tea or Longjing tea has more than 1,200 year history. Traditionally it was the royal tribute in different dynasties. In Qing Dynasty, Emperor Qianlong visited Jiangnan area, and drunk dragon well tea in Hangzhou. He highly spoke of the dragon well tea. The making procedure of dragon-well tea is very exclusive and strict.

In spring, it is the time for making and selling tea, generally the tea is sold at a higher price. It is also bought by government for serving foreign guests. During the time of spring, it is the best time for drinking the fresh tea. Generally it is the custom of the local people.

Biluochun Tea (Spring Spiral Tea,碧螺春茶). Biluochun tea is produced in Suzhou, which is near to Hanghzou. It is the second most famous tea in China. Biluochun tea is green tea. The major planting area is Dongtingshan Mountain beside Taihu Lake. The tea looks like spiral and it is crinkled. The make procedure is comprised of removing green, drying and kneading as well as rubbing to be a ball.

Huangshan Maofeng Tea (Fuzzy-Tip Tea,黄山毛峰茶). Huangshan Maofeng Tea is produced in Taiping County of Huangshan Mountain. The major plantations are located in Yungu Temple, Songgu Nunnery, Diaoqiao Nunnery and Ciguang Pavilion as well as the Banshan Temple with an altitude of 1,200 meters. The making procedures are also much too strict.

Its picking time starts from Qingming(one of 24 lunar seasonal sections) to Summer Begins. The picked buds and leaves will be strictly checked and categorized.

Anxi Tieguanyin Tea(安溪铁观音茶). Tieguanyin tea belongs to oolong tea. Tieguanyin tea is produced in Anxi county of Jiangxi province. Traditionally Tieguanyin tea boasts the King of Tea. Four seasons all the year are all the time for picking tea, so the tea is also divided into spring tea, summer tea, heat tea and autumn tea. Generally, spring tea is the best. The procedure is the same as the general oolong-tea making.

Yueyang Junshanyinzhen Tea(君山银针茶). It belongs to Yellow tea. Junshanyinzhen tea begun drinking in Tang Dynasty, and in Qing Dynasty, it was the royal tribute of government. It is produced on isles or islands of Dongting Lake. It is categorized into Rongcha(Fuzz Tea) and Jiancha(Tip Tea). The tip tea looks like the sword, and publicly it is called Gongjian(literally translated Tribute Tip Tea). Its making procedure is also complicated, at least needs 8 steps.

Pu-Er Tea(普洱茶). Pu-Er tea is a new kind of tea planted on the basis of Dayecha or Big-Leaf Tea in Yunnan. Pu-Er tea is also called Dianqing Tea. It is named after its sales place that is Pu-Er County. It has more than 1700 year history. Generally the tea tree is larger and taller than the common tea trees. Its making procedure is also comprised of eight steps. It is strongly featured by the eternal fragrance and can be used for five or six times.

Yunwu Tea is one of the famous green teas, it is said that the tea planting on Lushan Mountain begun from Jin Dynasty. In Song Dynasty, Yunwu tea became the royal tribute. Thanks to the unique landform and geography of Lushan Mountain, Yunwu Tea is famous for its fragrance like orchid in deep mountain. Its making procedure is comprised of 9 steps.

Xinyang Maojian Tea(信阳毛尖茶). Maojian tea is produced in Xinyang of Henan province, specifically on the peaks of Cheyun Mountain, Jiyun Mountain, Tianyun Mountain, Yunwu Mountain, Zhenglei Mountain, Heilongtan Mountain and Bailongtan Mountain. The best is produced in Cheyun Mountain and Tianwu Mountain. It is the tea produced in middle China.

Qihong Tea(祁红茶). Qihong tea belongs to black tea and also very famous in many brands of black tea in the world. Qihong tea is produced in Qimen county of Anhui province. Qihong tea is the treasured kind of Gongfu Black Tea. Thanks to its advantageous environment, it has been famous for more than 1000 years. In international market, Qihong tea has a high reputation and it is called Qimenxiang or Qimen Fragrance.

Liuan Guapian Tea(六安瓜片茶). Liuan guapian tea is the famous green tea. It is the only famous tea made of the single leaf. It is produced in the mountainous area of Dabianshan Mountain in west Anhui province. The best products are from Liuan, Jinzhai and Huoshan counties. The shape of the tea looks like the sunflower seed, so it is called Guapian tea. And the most famous tea is produced on the Qiyun Mountain. It is widely famous as Qiyunguapian Tea.