Chinese Tea — Origin, Culture, Art, Utensil, Function, and Classification

Chinese Tea Culture
 

What Is The History Of Chinese Tea?

 

Tea originated in China around 5000 to 6000 years ago and had been used to serve mainly two functions: sacrifice offerings in grand ceremonies and medicine to detoxify or cure certain diseases. 

 

Later in Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC — 771 BC), tea was an important tribute to offer to kings and became popular among royals. 

 

Till the Sui Dynasty (581 — 618), tea had already come to and popularized in the civilian world. 

Extant Earliest Tea Leaf, Unearthed from the Mausoleum of Emperor Jing of Han (188 BC — 141 BC)

Extant Earliest Tea Leaf, Unearthed from the Mausoleum of Emperor Jing of Han (188 BC — 141 BC) — Hanyangling Museum

 

Who Is The Sage Of Tea In Chinese Culture?

 

Lu Yu (about 733 — 840), respected as the Sage of Tea or God of Tea, finished "The Classic of Tea", an important tea encyclopedia that formed the comprehensive tea culture.

 

In this masterpiece, Lu Yu included tea's history, function, classification, cultivation, production, cooking method, utensil, ceremony, custom, story, and so on. 

 

Afterward, tea has been one of the most important drinks in Chinese culture.

White Glaze Figurine of Northern Song Dynasty (960 — 1127), Believed as Lu Yu the Sage of Tea

White Glaze Figurine of Northern Song Dynasty (960 — 1127), Believed as Lu Yu the Sage of Tea — Capital Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

 

What Is The Chinese Tea Culture?

 

Chinese tea culture includes everything about tea: planting and production, ceremony and etiquette, morale, utensil, story, tea art, customs, and so on.

It can be extremely complicated and exquisite, or quite plain and simple.

We can find tea culture in ancient tea books, poems, artifacts, and paintings, as well as from beautiful tea plantations, and everyone’s teacups.

People are culture.

Hence, whatever, however, and wherever they drink, expensive or cheap tea leaves, fancy or simple tea sets, in a fabulous room or just sitting on the roadside, are all important parts of the Chinese Tea Culture. 

In the Painting "Wen Hui Tu" by Emperor Zhao Ji (1082 — 1135), People Are Making and Drinking Tea

In the Painting "Wen Hui Tu" by Emperor Zhao Ji (1082 — 1135), People Are Boiling Water, Making and Drinking Tea — Taipei Palace Museum

 

Why Tea Is Important In Big Rites Such As Chinese Weddings?

Tea trees can only grow from seeds, and cannot be transplanted, which made it the representative of eternal loyalty.

Also, tea is the symbol of elegance, politeness, harmony, persistence, and modesty in Chinese culture.

Therefore, from royals to civilians, tea leaves have been served as tributes, rewards, and betrothal presents, and serving and drinking cups of tea are important rites in nearly all important ceremonies and activities, such as the Coming of Age and Traditional Chinese Wedding

 

What Is The Best Water To Make Tea?

 

According to The Classic of Tea, water from a spring in the mountains is the best, from a river is the second-best, and well water is the worst.

Collecting pure dew, rain, and snow that didn't drop on the ground, are popular water to make tea as well. 

 

Main Functions Of Chinese Tea.

Different types of teas can:

Refresh oneself, lose weight, lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, detoxification, aid digestion, and anti-aging, ease the pressure and anxiety, strengthen immunity, stimulate metabolism, cure certain diseases, and so on. 

 

When And Who Are Not Suitable To Drink Tea? 

  • People with an empty stomach, such as before dinner;

  • Right after eating meals;

  • During the period of taking medications;

  • Women on their periods or pregnant;

  • Before sleep;

  • After drinking alcohol;

  • People with Panasthenia, Iron-deficiency Anemia, Liver Dysfunction, Heart Diseases, Gastric Ulcer, Fever, etc.;

  • Do not drink overnight tea, nor very strong tea.

 

Important Tea Utensils.

Tea-Making Utensils of Tang Dynasty (618 — 907), Unearthed From Famen Temple

Utensils to Drink Tea in History of China, Photo by Dongmaiying.

 

Main Classifications of Chinese Tea.

Based on the fermentation degree, tea in China is divided into six groups: Green Tea, White Tea, Yellow Tea, Oolong Tea, Black Tea, and Dark Tea.