Chinese tea has been in the news, it’s all over the internet and it’s widely popularized due to the health benefits that it offers to people. Where did Chinese tea come from, how did it get popular, why do people love it so much and what else should I know about Chinese tea? All these questions and more, will be answered.
Origin of Chinese Tea
There are many different sources, documentation, published articles and books disputing the exact origin of Chinese tea. It’s a very long and a very complex history as the Chinese people have enjoyed different brew of tea for over an entire millennia. So pin pointing the exact spot in history this phenomenon began isn’t easy.
Chinese tea has been proclaimed as the cure to a lot of ailments and a lot of scholars agree with these cures. However, when they first came out, people simply enjoyed the flavor and taste they offered. It’s reported that the first ever person to drink tea was Han Dynasty and the tea was part of the Camellia family. This is due to evidence found in the Jing of Han mausoleum in Xi’an.
Chinese Tea Facts
As with most great inventions, tea was actually discovered as an accident when tea leaves fell into someone’s drink and they enjoyed the taste.
One of the main sources as one of the most ancient tea recipes is actually grown from a 3,200 year old tree in the Yunnan province of China.
Back during BC, tea was used not to drink but it was used as a stimulate to keep people awake.
There are 5 different groups of tea (white tea, post-fermented tea, green tea, black tea and oolong tea).
If you’re looking for an expensive cup, there’s a $200 cup of tea located in Sichuan Province. Called the “Panda tea”, people who work in the are actually use panda waste to fertilize the leaves.
Evolution of Chinese Tea
There are three different evolutions to go through for Chinese tea. Those evolutions are boiled, whipped and steeped. As a modern reader, you belong to the steeped evolution. Believe it or not, people used to actually boil tea to get the taste that we enjoy today. In the early discovery of tea plants, which could be dated back to sometime in BC didn’t take long to be linked to medicine and botany.
One of the first discovered traits of tea was that people who drank it actually felt relieved of their fatigue. Fascinated by this discovery, ancient doctors and investigators wanted to know if it could do more. Right around the fourth century, the Yangtse-Kiang valley was known to regularly consume tea as they said it was actually helping their eye-sight.
Emperors were actually giving their ministers and loyal servant’s tea leaves as a reward for their services. However, drinking tea wasn’t quite common yet. It wasn’t until the Tang dynasty in the eighth that tea was actually used for the purpose we know today, drinking it. During the Sung dynasty, people were grounding tea leaves into fine powders and then brewing the powder with hot water to make tea.
It was also recorded that as early as 729, the Emperor of Japan was giving drinking tea to monks in his palace for improved discipline and concentration.
Why the Name Tea
One of the most peculiar things about tea is why it’s called tea. If we called it by any other name, would the taste or the health benefits change? Would any of the things we’ve come to know and love about tea actually change? While tea had been around in China since BC, other areas of the world like London didn’t know about tea until about forty years after Shakespeare’s death.
Different cultures have always called the word tea by different things based on how they pronounced it and how they saw it. For example, in France, it was called “the”, in India, it was called “chai” and it was called “tay” in English until 1959. When tea was first discovered, the Chinese were actually using named of other shrubs to help name what we know today as tea.
It wasn’t until tea was first being actively traded that people started giving it different names based on their routes. When Chinese merchants started travelling to countries like Arab and Russia, the name was simply known as “cha”. Then, when the Portuguese caught onto this market, they knew tea by the name of “ch’a”.
As the trade market grew larger, more English countries began adopting the word of tea. Jane Austen, a prominent historical writer began using the word “tea things” which meant rest and relaxation. Since then, we’ve adopted the word tea.
8 Types of Chinese Tea
There are 8 different distinct types of popular Chinese tea.
Chinese Green tea – This particular type of tea is made from a process that uses less oxidation than other types of tea leaves. While oolong and black tea use a long level of exposure to make their leaves, green tea minimize their exposure to withering.
Chinese Oolong tea – One of the most popular types of tea in China, Oolong originates from the Fujian region but has various degrees of oxidation, ranging anywhere from 8 to 85%. You can immediately notice oolong tea because of the curled or twisted look due to how long they get sun exposure.
Chinese black tea – Black tea is more oxidized than any other type of tea in China and produces a brown or red effect for the tea. This helps to give the tea the strong flavor that many praise it for. This tea is notable for retaining their flavor for many years.
Chinese red tea – Derived from the leaves of Camellia Sinesis tea plants that can be found all over China, Japan, Africa and India, Chinese red tea is distinct because of their dark leaves. Some people prefer the name Rooibos tea.
Chinese white tea – While there’s a lot of disagreement in what is acceptable for the definition of a white tea plant, they don’t get nearly as much exposure to withering as other types of tea leaves do. White tea leaves are minimally processed and refers to several different types of tea.
Chinese yellow tea – This is one of the most expensive and rarest types of teas out there. While the oxidation process is similar to green tea, there’s an added step in the production of yellow tea which involves letting the leaves be steamed under a damp cloth. This is why they have a yellow color to them.
Chinese flower tea – Also known as the flowering tea or blooming tea, these plants have a unique ability to bloom when they’re being brewed at the right temperature. They’ve also been the subject of controversy over how many health benefits they provide and which ones are truthful.
Chinese compressed tea – Also known as tea bricks, aren’t commonly popular as much as other types of teas. This is made when tea leaves are crushed into disc or brick like shapes.
10 Most Famous Chinese Tea
This tea is known as the Dragon Well Tea in China. They’re traditionally grown in the Zhejiang Province of China and have a smooth green look to them.
This is a high quality luxury green tea that can be found in the Huangshan Mountains. They were first originated in the Qing Dynasty.
Dongting Bi Lou Chun
Another tea that originates from the Dongting mountains and is also another green tea. This was another tea leaf that originates from the Qing dynasty and they can be designated from their awkward spiral shape.
This is one of the more famous types of tea in China. It can be found in the Henan province and like a lot of other famous types of teas, this was found during the Qing dynasty.
This is one of the special types of green tea, even though it’s not nearly as famous as the Dragon Well tea. This is one of the more recent finds though, as it was wound in 1905.
Finally, something that’s not a green tea is the yellow tea known as Jun Shan Yizhen. It’s very exotic and hard to find as the production of this tea is limited.
Anxi Tie Guan Yin
These distinctly shaped leaves are oolong type leaves that hail from the Fujian province. These weren’t found until 1735 and is even considered as one of the very best oolong teas.
Wuyi Rock Tea
This is another oolong famous tea from the Fujian province. It’s considered to be one of the most delicious teas produced in the area.
Keemun Black Tea
This is a black tea known for its distinct flavor and is regarded by locals as one of the most best tasting teas ever discovered.
Finally, our last green tea to make the list is regarded as the most delicious fine tea that hails from the Guizhou province. This tea won an award in 1915 as the best tasting tea.