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Chinese Tea

 The Art of Tea

Chinese tea is a beverage, Chinese tea is a pass time, Chinese tea is a culture. Whatever you think Chinese tea is, Chinese tea is a life time of enjoyment.
If you are new to Chinese tea, this site contains interesting Chinese tea knowledge that would get you started. Waste no time, let's do Chinese tea!

Abrief  History  of  Tea
Ancient Chinese texts attribute the discovery to one of China's legendary emperors, Shen Nung, said to have ruled about 2,737 B.C. As the story goes, Shen Nung was sipping hot, boiled water in his garden one day, when a leaf from a tea bush nearby fell into his cup. The Emperor tasted and smelled the infusion, and decided it was a considerable improvement over plain hot water. Thus, tea-drinking began. There are several references to tea in the Pen ts'ao (medical Book) - a work attributed to Shen Nung, but actually written in the Han Dynasty (A.D. 25-220).
Luk Yu, a famous scholar and politician of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) is known as the immortal of tea of China.
Disenchanted by the internal strife and widespread corruption amongst the government officials, he quit politics and devoted himself whole-heartedly in the study of Tea. He spent many years learning the subject under the able tuitorship of tea master Chow. He travelled widely to places where tea was grown to gain practical experience. He talked to tea planters, processers, tasters and connoisseurs of tea to enrich his knowledge. He visited famous springs in search for the best water as good tea has to be brewed by good water. He made detailed records of his research. He was so engrossed in studying tea that a poet once wrote about Luk Yu that "he devoted a life time on tea to ensure that no one would go thirsty." He wrote the most comprehensive and authoritative book on tea in which was recorded his vast knowledge on tea including planting, processing, tasting and brewing. By his book he had given us the benefit of his years of research on tea and enable us to enjoy the great variety of excellent tea of to-day.
Six types of Chinese tea
Of hundreds of varieties of Chinese tea, there are six major types. They are green tea, black tea, Wulong tea, white tea, scented tea, and tightly pressed tea.
Green tea has the longest history and still ranks first in output and variety today. People like its freshness and natural fragrance. Famous green tea includes Longjing (Dragon Well) Tea from the West Lake in Hangzhou, Maofeng Tea from Huangshan Mountain, Yinzhen (Silver Needle) Tea from Junshan Mountain and Yunwu (Cloud and Mist) Tea from Lushan Mountain.
Black tea is also popular both at home and abroad. Different from green tea, black tea is thoroughly fermented. In the fermentation, the tea turns from green to black.

Wulong tea possesses the freshness of green tea and the fragrance of black tea. In recent years, it has become popular with more and more people for its properties in helping body building and dieting. Wulong tea is found in Fujian and Taiwan. Because the tea grows on cliffs, it is difficult to pick. For this reason, Wulong tea is considered the most precious.
White tea is as white as silver and its water is clear. It is mainly produced in Zhenhe and Fuding in Fujian Province. Famous varieties include "Silver Needle" and "White Peony".
Scented tea, which smells of flowers, is unique to China. Scented tea is made by mixing green tea with flower petals through an elaborate process. Sweet osmanthus, jasmine, rose, orchid and plum flowers can all be used.
Another special tea is called tightly-pressed tea lumps. The black tea or green tea is pressed into brick, cake, or ball shapes. The tea lump is convenient to store and transport and is popular with minority people in border regions, especially nomadic herdsmen. This kind of tea is mainly produced in Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan, Yunnan and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region
Brewing a Perfect Pot of Tea
Use a tea pot, preheating it by rinsing it out with hot water. This keeps the tea hot during the brewing. Bring cold tap water to a full boil. Once boiling water has been poured directly on the leaves and the lid put on the pot, there is little to do but wait for the tea leaves to infuse properly and see the infusion is kept warm. In cold climates, a tea cozy, a sort of quilted hood or cover may be slipped over the teapot to keep it hot.

How long the tea should brew depends on the type of tea and the strength desired, from a minimum of three minutes to a maximum of six, and in almost all cases five minutes. This is based on one tablespoon per 2 1/2 cup pot. Darkness is no indication of strength. While the tea is infusing, lift the lid and give the mixture a quick stir with a spoon. This ensures that the flavor and strength is evenly distributed throughout the pot. At least, do this before pouring, to make sure that the first cup poured will not be weaker than the others
Tranditional Chinese Brewing Method

repare the tools for the ceremony by having the needed tea set that consist of:
(a) Ceramic "Service cup" with cover.
(b) Small Tea pot
(c) Large Tea pot.
(d) Drinking cups.
(e) "Sniffing Cups".
(f) A large empty bowl.
(g) Wooden spoon, chopsticks, long and very large twizer.
(h) Support "Service Bowl"
(i) Small ceramic bowl.

1:Pour    your    hot       water from the large teapot into the small "Service Cup" to warm and clean it.
Step 2: Clean and warm the cover of the    "Service Cup" also, by turning it in a circular
motion inside the "Service Cup" which is still filled with hot water.
Step 3: Next, pour the hot water from the "Service Cup" into the small teapot to clean and warm this as well.
Step 4: Use the hot water from the small teapot to clean and warm the "Sniffing Cups".
Step 5: Pour the hot water from the small teapot to also clean and warm the "Drinking Cups".
Step 6: Place about 1 teaspoon of Xianju Green Tea inside the "Service Cup".
Step 7: Make sure the water is atleast 80 degrees Celsius (170 Fahrenheit), and pour the hot water into the "Service Cup" containing the Xianju Green Tea leaves, filling it to the brim.

Tea Production
A new tea-plant must grow for five years before its leaves can be picked and, at 30 years of age, it will be too old to be productive. The trunk of the old plant must then be cut off to force new stems to grow out of the roots in the coming year. By repeated rehabilitation in this way, a plant may serve for about l00 years . For the fertilization of tea gardens, soya-bean cakes or other varieties of organic manure are generally used, and seldom chemical fertilizers. When pests are discovered, the affected plants will be removed to prevent their spread, and also to avoid the use of pesticides.
The season of tea-picking depends on local climate and varies from area to area. On the shores of West Lake in Hangzhou, where the famous green tea Longjing (Dragon Well) comes from, picking starts from the end of March and lasts through October, altogether 20-30 times from the same plants at intervals of seven to ten days. With a longer interval, the quality of the tea will deteriorate.
A skilled woman picker can only gather 600 grams (a little over a pound) of green tea leaves in a day.

The new leaves must be parched in tea cauldrons. This work , which used to be done manually, has been largely mechanized. Top-grade Dragon Well tea, however, still has to be stir-parched by hand, doing only 250 grams every half hour. The tea-cauldrons are heated electrically to a temperature of about 25oC or 74oF. It takes four pounds of fresh leaves to produce one pound of parched tea.

The best Dragon Well tea is gathered several days before Qingming (Pure Brightness, 5th solar term) when new twigs have just begun to grow and carry "one leaf and a bud." To make one kilogram (2.2 lbs) of finished tea, 60, 000 tender leaves have to be plucked. In the old days Dragon Well tea of this grade was meant solely for the imperial household; it was, therefore, known as "tribute tea".
For the processes of grinding, parching, rolling, shaping and drying other grades of tea various machines have been developed and built, turning out about 100 kilograms of finished tea an hour and relieving the workers from much of their drudgery.

Chinese Tea-- Tea Wares --

In China, people think different teas prefer different tea wares. Green tea prefers glass tea ware, scented tea porcelain ware while Oolong tea performs best in purple clay tea ware.

In its long history, tea wares not only improve tea quality but also by-produce a tea art. Skilled artisans bestow them artistic beauty.

Tea wares consist of mainly teapots, cups, tea bowls and trays etc. Tea wares had been used for a long time in China. The unglazed earthenware, used in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces for baking tea today, reminds us the earliest utensils used in ancient China. Tea drinking became more popular in the Tang dynasty when tea wares made of metals were served for noblesse and civilians commonly used porcelain ware and earthenware. In the Song dynasty tea bowls, like upturned bell, became common. They were glazed in black, dark-brown, gray, gray/white and white colors. Gray/white porcelain tea wares predominated in the Yuan dynasty and white glazed tea wares became popular in the Ming dynasty. Teapots made of porcelain and purple clay were very much in vogue during the middle of the Ming dynasty. Gilded multicolored porcelain produced in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province and the bodiless lacquer wares of Fujian Province emerged in the Qing dynasty. Among various kinds of tea wares, porcelain wares made in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province and purple clay wares made in Yixing, Jiangsu Province occupied the top places.

Nowadays, tea wares made of gold, silver, copper, purple clay, porcelain, glass, lacquer and other materials are available.

Chinese Tea-- Tea Culture

Just as coffee in the West, tea became a part of daily life in China. You can see teahouses scattered on streets like cafes in the west. It has such a close relationship with Chinese that in recent years, a new branch of culture related to tea is rising up in China, which has a pleasant name of "Tea Culture". It includes the articles, poems, pictures about tea, the art of making and drinking tea, and some customs about tea.

In the Song dynasty, Lu You, who is known as "Tea Sage" wrote Tea Scripture, and detailedly described the process of planting, harvesting, preparing, and making tea. Other famous poets such as Li Bai, Du Fu and Bai Juyi once created large number of poems about tea. Tang Bohu and Wen Zhengming even drew many pictures about tea.

Chinese are very critical about tea. People have high requirements about tea quality, water and tea wares. Normally, the finest tea is grown at altitudes of 3,000 to 7,000 feet (910 to 2,124m). People often use spring water, rain and snow water to make tea, among them the spring water and the rainwater in autumn are considered to be the best, besides rainwater in rain seasons is also perfect. Usually, Chinese will emphasis on water quality and water taste. Fine water must feature pure, sweet, cool, clean and flowing.

Chinese prefer pottery wares to others. The purple clay wares made from the Yixing, Jiangsu province and Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province are the best choice. 
Chinese Tea-- How to Select Excellent Tea

Selecting tea is a subject of knowledge.

Aside from the variety, tea is classified into grades. Generally, appraisement of tea is based on five principles, namely, shape of the leaf, color of the liquid, aroma, taste and appearance of the infused leaf.

Speaking of the shape of the leaf, there are flat, needle-like, flower-like, and so on. The judgment is usually made according to the artistic tastes of the tea tasters.

The evenness and transparency of the leaf will decide the color of the liquid. Excellent liquid should not contain rough burnt red leaves or red stems.

Aroma is the most important factor in judging the quality of a kind of tea. Putting 3 grams leaves into 100 milliliters boiled water, people can judge the quality of the tea by the smell from the liquid.

The judgment should be completed through the taste of the liquid and the appearance of the infused leaves.

Chinese Tea Culture:

 An Introduction to Chinese Tea  Chinese Tea Culture ,Chinese Tea Ceremony, The Art of Tea  , Chinese Tea,Tea-drinking Customs
Chinese Teas By Class , Origin of Green Tea, Oolong Tea / Wulong Tea, China Black Tea. China Jasmine CHUNG HAO Brick Tea, Chief introduction of Pu'er tea,Bi Luo Chun, Huangshan Mao Feng ,Huo Qing,Tun Lu ,More information about Chinese Tea 
 Chinese Tea Sets ,How To Make Chinese Tea,  How to Brew Kung Fu Tea  ,Introduction to Zisha Teapots  ,
 The tea culture in Sichuan Tea Houses Learn to Infuse Ancient with Modern, Chinese Tea: Gaiwan Brewing ,Tea and a Wedding Other Uses of Tea , Famous Teahouses in Modern Beijing  ,