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Home >China Basics > Eating & Drink >

  Tea
   

Brief introduction

China is the origin of tea. It was in the South-West part of China that Chinese tea was first found.

South-Western China falls in the tropical and sub-tropical climate zone. It is covered by large areas of primeval forests. The warm and moist environment is the perfect cradle for tea trees. Huge, 2,700 years old wild tea trees and 800 years old planted tea trees can still be found there.

Chinese tea has been around for thousands of years. Chinese tea was first discovered and used as medicine. Then it evolved into a beverage, and further in to part of Chinese culture.

After Ming, numerous types of Chinese teas were invented. The Ar Tea is bein perfected continuously. The famous Kung Fu Cha (or Kung Fu Tea) is one of the landmark development of Chinese tea brewing.

8 classes of Chinese tea:

Chinese tea are divide into 8 classes: Green tea, Oolong tea, Black tea, Red tea, White tea, Yellow tea, Flower tea, Compressed tea.

Green Tea is the most natural of all Chinese tea classes. It's picked, natural dried, and then fried briefly (a process called "killing the green") to get rid of it's grassy smell. Fermentation process is skipped.

Green Tea has the most medical value and the least caffeine content of all Chinese tea classes. Aroma is medium to high, flavor is light to medium.

About 50% of China's teas is Green tea.

Oolong Tea is half way between green tea and black tea in a sense that it's half- fermented. It's also called "Qing Cha" (grass tea). Typical Oolong Tea leaves are green in the middle and red on the edges as a result of the process to soften tea leaves.

Oolong Tea leaves are withered and spread before undergoing a brief fermentation process. Then Oolong Tea is fried, rolled and roasted.

Oolong Tea is the chosen tea for the famous Kung Fu t's the serious Chinese tea drinker's tea. Aroma ranges from light to medium. Beginners in Oolong Tea should be careful as even though flavor is only mild to medium, the tea could be very strong.

Chinese Flower Tea is an unique class of Chinese tea. It subdivides into Flower Tea and Scented Tea.

Flower Tea is a simple concept that dried flowers are used, without much processing, to make tea. Scented Tea uses green tea, red tea as base and mix with scent of flowers.

Chinese Flower Tea has light to medium flavor and medium to strong aroma Red leaves and red tea color, it's characteristic of Red Tea's fermentatiobr.

There are 3 subclasses of Chinese Red Tea - "Kung u Red Tea", "Ted Tea Bits" and "Small Species Red Tea". Chinese Red Tea has low aroma and medium flavor.

Chinese Tea Custom

Younger generation greet elder generation with a cup of tea. That is a way to show their respect.

One note is that, in organizations and families, only people of lower rank serve tea to higher rank people. At least it was like that in the old days.

Today, the society is more liberal. Parents may pour kids a cup of tea at home, bosses may pour subordinates a cup of tea at restaurants. But it's just parents and bosses being nice. It would be inappropriate for low rank to expect high rank to serve tea in formal occasions.

After guy A pours a cup of tea for guy B, you see guy B knocking his bended index and middle fingers (or similar varieties of finger tapping) on the table. You bet your savings that are secret agents. You are broke. They are just Chinese.

The story goes like this. In the Ching Dynasty some 300-400 years ago, the emperor liked to dress casual and visit his kingdom. Servants were told to stay low profile in order not to reveal their master's identity. One day in a restaurant. The emperor, after pouring himself a cup of tea, filled the servant's cup as well. To the servant, it was a huge grace having the emperor pour him a cup of tea. Out of reflex, he wanted to kneel down and thank his master. But he was stopped because that would give away the emperor's identity. So instead of kneeling on his knees, the servant kneed with his fingers.

That "thanks" knock is still in use today in the 21st century.

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