By 2012-02-13 GAC
You cannot leave Chinese tea drinking aside of you want to become knowledgeable about the Chinese culture. As a prominent tea producing and consuming country, China has got one of the most elaborate tea cultures in Asia. Tea has long history, yet it did not arrive in England until the mid-17th century. At the time, the British generally ate two meals a day – a late breakfast, and then supper. In the early 19th century, Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, decided to start afternoon tea, as a way of socializing and having a bite to tide her over until dinner. Her teas soon became so popular that the custom spread throughout the country and became an essential part of Victorian culture.
Each culture has different reasons for drinking tea. Chinese people were the first in the world to drink tea, and so China has a recorded history of tea of three thousand years. 1200 years ago, a man named Lu Yu wrote a book called “Cha Jing”, which means the bible of tea. This was the world’s first book about tea.
The book offered a detailed explanation of the original tea, tools for picking and manufacturing tea, types and verification of tea, tea wares for brewing and drinking, the history and method of tea drinking, as well as tea producing districts and their rankings. China now boasts a sophisticated tea culture, which goes far beyond tea itself. Tea comes in various types and is most commonly classified according to its processing method. Fully fermented tea is called red tea, although it is known as black tea among westerners. Unfermented tea is called green tea and the leaves remain green. Half fermented tea is called Wu Long tea. Scented tea, which smells like flowers, is made by mixing green tea with flower petals through an elaborate process.
Take green tea for instance. The ideal temperature of the water should be around 80 degree Celsius. If the water is too hot, nutrients in the tea will be destroyed and the tea will taste bad. On the other hand, if the water is just temperate, the tea leaves won’t open up properly and the delicate flavour will not develop properly.
In addition, water is another important element. Water from springs, rivers, lakes and wells will result in different flavors. Chinese people are most accustomed to drinking hot tea. Many tea experts say that once tea cools off, its nutrients disappear and it’s no longer good for your health. So when you go visit a Chinese friend’s house, you will most likely to see a cup of hot tea. And you will find while you are chatting, he/she will continuously add hot water to your emptying cup of tea!
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