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Chinese Tea

An Introduction to Chinese Tea

The Chinese tea lore is several hundred years and even thousands of years earlier than that of Japan. It can be said that the Chinese tea lore places an emphasis on spirit and makes light of form. It also has different representations at different historical stages. Teas are also different but all embody the tea spirit of “clearness, respect, joy and truthfulness”.

Tea tasting emphasis on the color, fragrance and flavor of tea, water quality and tea set. When taking tea, the taster should also be able to savor tea carefully it has cultural meaning. Tea and tea wares should match surrounding elements such as breeze, bright moon, pines, bamboo, plums and snow. All these show the ultimate goal of Chinese culture: the harmonious unity of human beings with nature.

Tea is compared to personal character. The fragrance of tea is not aggressive; it is pleasant, low-keyed and lasting. A friendship between gentlemen is also like a cup of tea. With a cup of tea in hand, enjoying the green leaves in a white porcelain cup, you will feel peace. Fame, wealth and other earthly concerns are far away. Tea is the symbol of elegance.

Tea art pay attention to environment, atmosphere, music, infusing techniques and interpersonal relationships. Chinese tea—like Chinese silk and china—has become synonymous worldwide with refined culture. At the heart of the art of tea—the study and practice of tea in all its aspects—is the simple gesture of offering a cup of tea to a guest that for Chinese people today is a fundamental social custom, as it has been for centuries. The spirit of tea permeates Chinese culture, and throughout the country there are many kinds of teas, teahouses, tea legends, tea artifacts and tea customs.

The Chinese people, in their drinking of tea, place much significance on the act of "savoring." "Savoring tea" is not only a way to discern good tea from mediocre tea, but also how people take delight in their reverie and in tea-drinking itself. Snatching a bit of leisure from a busy schedule, making a kettle of strong tea, securing a serene space, and serving and drinking tea by yourself can help banish fatigue and frustration, improve your thinking ability and inspire you with enthusiasm. You may also imbibe it slowly in small sips to appreciate the subtle allure of tea-drinking, until your spirits soar up and up into a sublime aesthetic realm. Buildings, gardens, ornaments and tea sets are the elements that form the ambience for savoring tea. Teahouses tucked away in gardens and nestled beside the natural beauty of mountains and rivers are enchanting places of repose for people to rest and recreate themselves. 

The Categories of Tea
Chinese tea may be classified into five categories according to the different methods by which it is processed.
1) Green tea: Green tea is the variety which keeps the original color of the tea leaves without fermentation during processing. This category consists mainly of Longjing tea of Zhejiang Province, Maofeng of Huangshan Mountain in Anhui Province and Biluochun produced in Jiangsu.

2) Black tea: Black tea, known as "red tea" (hong cha) in China, is the category which is fermented before baking; it is a later variety developed on the basis of the green tea. The best brands of black tea are Qihong of Anhui, Dianhong of Yunnan, Suhong of Jiangsu, Chuanhong of Sichuan and Huhong of Hunan.

3) Wulong tea: This represents a variety half way between the green and the black teas, being made after partial fermentation. It is a specialty from the provinces on China's southeast coast: Fujian, Guangdong and Taiwan.

4) Compressed tea: This is the kind of tea which is compressed and hardened into a certain shape. It is good for transport and storage and is mainly supplied to the ethnic minorities living in the border areas of the country. As compressed tea is black in color in its commercial form, so it is also known in China as "black tea". Most of the compressed tea is in the form of bricks; it is, therefore, generally called "brick tea", though it is sometimes also in the form of cakes and bowls. It is mainly produced in Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

5) Scented tea: This kind of tea is made by mixing fragrant flowers in the tea leaves in the course of processing. The flowers commonly used for this purpose are jasmine and magnolia among others. Jasmine tea is a well-known favorite with the northerners of China and with a growing number of foreigners    

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