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


Xihu Longjing

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.

New West lake longjing Dragon Well Chinese Green tea 250g Grade one Hangzhou Famous tea in China

 New West lake longjing Dragon Well Chinese Green tea

One of the things that’s most distinguishable about the Dragon Well Tea in China is that it has a very nice and smooth green look to the leaves. These are one of the oldest and most traditional tea leaves out there and can be found in the Zhejiang Province of China. It’s one of the highest quality of teas out on the market today as the tea is handmade and is known for its famous title among the Chinese tea enthusiasts. It originally comes from the area of Longjing Village which is established near the Hangzhou area.

Pros

  • Comes with a 1 ½ year expiration date, for a lengthy storage time

  • Is completely organic in nature with no added ingredients

  • Is one of the top 10 tea flavors in China

  • This tea is reviewed better than other similar teas that are $20 or more expensive

Cons

This tea is usually sold out and hard to find and the scent is something some people aren’t accustomed to

Huangshan Maofeng

This is a high quality luxury green tea that can be found in the Huangshan Mountains. They were first originated in the Qing Dynasty.

Huangshan Maofeng /Green Tea/ Healthy Tea 250g

 Huangshan Maofeng

Another smooth looking green leaf tea is known as the Huangshan Maofeng. The leaves are very distinct, so if you see them, you’ll easily be able to identify them. These leaves are produced in the Southern Eastern area of China in the Anhui province. This tea is so well known that it can be found on the China Famous Tea list which consists of the most famous types of tea in the world and where they’re found. Farmers say that the leaves they pick resemble orchid buds and that only the best looking leaves are picked.

Pros

  • Is one of the first grade class brands of tea in the Chinese community

  • Has a long storage shelf life of 1 and a half years

  • Has a very mellow and sweet nice taste to the tea

  • Contains a lot of anti-oxidants for personal health

Cons

  • The taste might be a bit bitter to some customers who aren’t used to that (it takes some getting used to)

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.

Dong Ting Bi Luo Chun Loose Leaf Green Tea (4 oz.)

Dong Ting Bi Luo Chun Loose Leaf Green Tea

If you’re looking for something that looks a little bit different, look no further than the Dong Ting Bi Lou Chun green tea leaf, which is grown in the Dong Ting mountainous area of the Jiangsu province in China. One of the most unique facts about this tea is that when it’s growing, it actually absorbs the scent of fruit blossoms around it. This tea leaf is grown in quite a few different shapes but it’s most commonly known for its spiral looking shape. This is one of the more supreme types of tea on the list and is considered as a high quality grade tea in China.

Pros

  • One of the highest grades and qualities of tea on the market today

  • This tea uses only one single bud to produce

  • Absorbs a naturally nice smelling scent to add to the quality of the leaf

  • Comes home grown in the home region of the Dong Ting mountainous region in the Jiangsu Province

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than some of the options on this list and it’s a bit hard to find because of the popularity

Xinyang Maojian

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.

Xinyang Maojian Tea High Mountain Organic Green Tea 250g

Xinyang Maojian Tea High Mountain Organic Green Tea 250g

Another great tea on the list is the Xinyang Moajian tea which is also considered as one of the most famous Chinese famous tea types. The original production site of Xinyang originates in its own name, Xinyang. The name of this tea actually has some kind of meaning to it, as the mao jian means the mao means the fizz left in the cup when the tea is brewed and the jian refers to the shape of the leaves. The leaves look rather sharp and young when they’re healthy. It’s believed that Xinyang tea dates back to almost 2,300 years.

Pros

  • Regarded as one of China’s famous top ten teas and revered by the locals in China

  • Has a very thick and delicious taste when drank

  • Has a very nice and rich aroma to it when brewed

  • In the Chinese region, this brand of tea was number three in public brand value

  • This tea is rich in a lot of different vitamins for various health benefits

Cons

  • This tea is a bit more expensive than other types of teas but we found it worth the cost

Liuan Guapian

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.

One of China Top Ten Tea Luan Guapian Tea China Famous Green Tea Fresh Rich Aroma 250g

 Luan Guapian Tea China Famous Green Tea Fresh Rich Aroma 250g

Luan Guapian leaves are considered some of the finest in the world for their unique picking process. Unlike other leaves, where people wait until they have a flush color to them, farmers wait until Luan Guaipian leaves are spread wide open to be picked. The original origin of the Luan Guapian leaf dates back to the 20th century and was remembered to be from an area of the Anhui province. The leaves are known for their large size and this is why people waited until they grew larger to pick them for optimal brewing.


Pros

  • Comes with a nice 18 month shelf life for a lengthy storage

  • Is easy to store and keep fresh

  • Directions are relatively easy and fast

  • The buds are removed and this tea has a relatively unique brewing process that will give it a distinct flavor

  • Is one of China’s top famous teas for the shape of the leaves and its unique flavor

Cons

  • The only cons we could find for this item is that it goes out of stock relatively fast and it’s hard to find because of how popular it is

Junshan Yinzhen

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.

Junshan Yinzhen

 Junshan Yinzhen Tea

Coming from the Hunan Province or more specifically, the Junshan Island, is a tea known as Junshan Yinzhen. It’s more commonly known to Chinese commoners as the “Silver needle of the Gentleman Mountain.” It’s also on the list of one of the most famous Chinese top ten teas. Sometimes this tea can be confused with white tea because of its look which is known as Bai Hao Yinzhen. It’s a relatively rare tea and sometimes it’s sold as white tea.


Pros

  • Often regarded as one of the finer teas in China and has a taste that locals describe as classy and better than Baihao Yinzhen Tea (which is another famous classic tea)

  • It’s one of the more rare and nice finds of tea, so if you can get a hold of it, you should definitely get it

  • You’ll notice a nice woody or smoky taste to the flavor of this tea because of how the leaves are produced

  • You can steep the leaves up to three times for extra-long lasting flavor

Cons

  • The tea is regarded as a bit expensive compared to other teas but reviews still say it’s well worth the price

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.


GOARTEA® 100g (3.5 Oz) Premium Organic High Mountain Fujian Anxi Tie Guan Yin Tieguanyin * Iron Goddess Chinese Oolong Tea


 GOARTEA® 100g oolang tea.

Another tea from the Fuijan province, this tea is well known for its very distinct brewing process and just how long they take to perfect. In China, this is considered one of the best Oolong teas and this tea wasn’t originally discovered until 1735. One of the most unique things about this tea is that it requires a sand-fired pot which will in the end, give the tea the traditional Chinese look. It’s important to note that this tea does require refrigeration which is specified by the manufacturer.


Pros

  • Has a very complicated brewing process which gives it a very nice and distinct flavor

  • Not only is preparation of the tea complicated before brewing but after as well to make sure that it stands up to the quality standards of the brand name

  • Stays relatively cool and is kept in a nice and cool environment like a refrigerator

  • Has a distinct crumbled leaf look to the tea and has a very nice taste

Cons

  • It may be difficult to find replacements or to keep the tea in stock because it runs out rather fast online

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.


200g Dahongpao Oolong Tea Wuyi Rock Tea Strong-flavor Red Robe Tea Chinese Tea (1)


 200g Dahongpao Oolong Tea Wuyi Rock Tea Strong-flavor Red Robe Tea Chinese Tea (1)

You can find this delicious tea originally from the Wuyi mountainous area, where the trees there are over a thousand years old. These unique leaves produce one of the most delicious teas in the world today. This is another top 10 tea produced in the Fujian province and there’s nearly 100 famous rocks where trees grow beside them. The leaf is distinguished by a dark green color and you’ll notice the prolapsed style to the leaf when it’s ready for brewing.


Pros

  • The product is relatively easy to store as long as you have a nice and dry place to store it in that doesn’t have a strange smell in it

  • The aftertaste is rather sweet and you’ll notice a nice mellow taste as well

  • The shelf life of the product is a lengthy 18 months

  • Comes from some of the rarest trees in China and is regarded as one of the top teas among the locals because of how rare the trees are

Cons

  • Some customers have complained that it’s just okay for the price and weren’t fully satisfied with the flavoring

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.

Keemun Black Tea - Organic - Loose Leaf - Bulk - Non GMO - 91 Servings

 Keemun Black Tea - Organic - Loose Leaf - Bulk

Keemun is one of the most famous black teas. It gained popularity around the 19th century and is even used in a number of classic tea blends in the west today. The look of the leaves are often described as a little bit smoky and dark. The taste can best be explained as an unsweetened cocoa. This is another tea that is produced in the Anhui province along with others on this list. While this is one of the best varieties, there are many different types of Keemun tea that exist today.

Pros

  • There’s no harmful chemicals in this specific tea

  • It’s non GMO and USDA certified so you know you’re getting completely organic chemicals in the tea

  • Even Queen Elizabeth drinks this type of tea as it’s her favorite and its kept her looking young and healthy

  • You’ll notice a little hint of cocoa when you drink this tea as it has a very distinct type of flavor when drank

Cons

  • A couple of people have complained that the tea upset their stomach and had a very bitter taste (but we couldn’t pinpoint the fault of these complaints on this tea)

Duyun Maojian

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.

Duyun Maojian

 Duyun Maojian Tea

This tea has won numerous awards for the great tasting texture and its silky smooth flavor among the Chinese locals. This tea was given to Mao Zedong as a gift when the people of Guizhou came to visit him. When locals first discovered this tea, it was first described as “fish hook tea” because that’s how people would often describe the look of this tea. The soil that hosts these leaves is often very moist and contains a large amount of iron as well. You’ll notice these leaves by the nice yellow appearance. The taste is also rather vibrant when drank.

Pros

  • One of the best benefits of the Duyun Maojian and other types of Mao Jian teas is that they’re scientifically proven to reduce blood pressure

  • For people with high blood sugar, this tea is also known to slightly reduce that as well with chemicals known as polysaccharides and polyphenols

  • Has a rather delicate taste to it unlike other brews of Mao Jian

  • The soil that this tea is grown in is rich in nutrients and moist, which contains a large amount of iron in the soil

Cons

  • It’s one of the harder types of teas to find an isn’t available everywhere

last updated on 06 feb 2017