Drinking Tea has been an essential part of Chinese culture for more than 4000 years. In the initial phase, tea was used by the Chinese as an herbal medicine. It was during the Tang and Song Dynasties when tea gained social prominence because of its health improvement and refreshing effect.
Most popular drink?
Different people from different dynasties especially the Ming Dynasty contributed to the identification of various types of tea, methods of tea processing and different drinking styles that is now known to us.
The Chinese started to export their drink to other parts of the world and tea slowly became well known across all continents. It is now consumed more than any other drink world-wide.
In China, tea is produced in vast areas but the noteworthy ones are The Jiangnan area, The Jiangbei area, The Southwest area and The Lingnan area.
In China, the presence of tea tree (Camellia Sinensis) has been found to exist nearly 5000 years.
Practically, tea became popular in China after the publication of Lu Yu’s book “The Classic Art of Tea”, which not only talks about the proper procedures for brewing, steeping and serving tea, but it also gives many practical tips for manufacturing the tea.
The Different Varieties of Tea
There are many kinds of Chinese teas depending on the manner in which they are produced. Some of them are as follows:
- Green Tea – This is the most popular one. This retains the original colour of the leaves because it is not fermented during processing. Longjing Tea and Maofeng Tea are the most popular ones in this category but The Dragon Well tea is the most expensive of the lot.
- White Tea – It is mainly known for the health benefits it provides. It is made from immature tea leaves, picked shortly before the buds are fully opened.
- Oolong Tea – It is black-green in colour because it is partially fermented. Soi sin, a bitter tasting brew belongs to this category.
- Black Tea –This is also known as “Red Tea” (hong cha). It is made from fermented leaves before baking because of which it is darker in colour. It is a later variety developed on the basis of the green tea. This category includes best brands of tea like Qihong, Dianhong, Suhong, Huhong, etc.
- Compressed Tea – This variety of tea is compressed and hardened into a certain shape. As it is black in colour in its commercial form, it is also known as black tea in China. It is also called “brick tea” because most of the compressed tea is in the form of bricks. It is mainly supplied to the ethnic minorities living in the border areas of the country as it is good for transport and storage.
- Wulong Tea – This variety is made after partial fermentation and is half way between the green and the black teas.
- Scented Tea – They are made by mixing green or oolong teas with various fragrant flowers and petals in the course of processing. Usually flowers like Jasmine and Magnolia are used for such purposes. Jasmine Tea belongs to this category.
The advantages and disadvantages
Tea not only has a rich taste but also a number of beneficial elements like various vitamins that help to discharge nicotine out of the system. For example, tea contains tannic acid, which has germicidal properties, and an alkaloid that stimulates the process of metabolism and promotes digestion. This makes tea one of the most popular drinks of the world.