Evolution of Tea in China

When the Chinese started drinking tea almost five thousand years ago, they sipped it for its health-giving properties. They found that the brew refreshed them, cured stomach aches, indigestion, depression, skin problems and helped them stay wide awake for hours at a time. Not surprising then that it became the favourite drink in Buddhist monasteries where the monks needed to stay focused but calm through hours of meditation.  

Chinese mountain range covered in tea plants in China
Tea plantation on a hill in China

Timeline of the History of Tea in China

2737 B.C
According to legend, tea is discovered when a Camellia sinensis var. sinensis leaf falls into Emperor Shen Nung’s pot of boiling water. After sipping the infusion and feeling energized the emperor declares the beverage has medicinal powers.
420-479 Sung Dynasty
Tea is well established as a medicine across China.  The camellia leaves are dried and compressed into cakes from which bits are broken off and boiled in water.
557-589 Chin Dynasty
Tea is starting to emerge as a social drink or certainly one that is now being enjoyed for its taste as much as its medicinal purposes.
589-620 Sui Dynasty  
Tea propagation is now more widespread & organised.  Tea bricks emerge as a form of currency.  Buddhist monks introduce tea to Japan.
620-907 Tang Dynasty
The poet Lu Yu writes the classic Book of Tea.  The custom of donating the very best tea to the emperor is is started.  The raw tea is now steamed and pulverised before being compressed into cakes.
960-1644 Song Dynasty
Tea drinking has now become an established social and spiritual event taking place in designated tea houses or tea rooms. Tea is dried then pulverised into a fine powder and whisked in a bowl with water.  Tea ware starts to be developed. This style of preparation was adopted for the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
1368-1644 Ming Dynasty  
Black, green and oolong teas are now being manufactured.  Round teapots, Yixing clay pottery and blue and white designs are introduced.  Tea becomes a major trading commodity.  Whole leaves now replace powder and bricks for tea preparation. The beverage is drunk out of individual cups, not bowls throughout the day.
Ancient China. Oriental people. Tea ceremony. Old village, peasants. Traditional Chinese paintings. Tradition and culture of Asia.

Ancient Chinese tea culture

Tea Manufacturing and Culture in China

Tea manufacturing and culture have evolved in China over time. Manufacturing processes have been refined, and books have been written about how to cultivate the plants, pluck the fresh crop, process the leaves, and how to brew and serve the tea. As the beverage grew in popularity across China's vast territories, it became an important part of social life with its own etiquette and rituals, Chinese tea ceremonies, and tasting competitions. Tea soon became China's major trade with rapid advances in global shipping and exportation.

tea plantation in China
Chinese tea plantation

Modern Times: Diversity of Tea Varieties

Today, Chinese tea continues to be enjoyed by people all over the world. If you're interested in trying some of China's famous teas, you might want to check out products like Buddhas Tears Tea or Gunpowder 'Temple Of Heaven' Green Tea. These teas are representative of the long history and rich culture of tea in China, and they offer a unique and enjoyable experience for tea lovers. Green tea, for example, is famous for its refreshing taste and high antioxidant content. It is also believed to promote weight loss and boost metabolism. Black tea, on the other hand, is more robust and flavorful, and is often enjoyed with milk or sugar. Oolong tea is a semi-fermented tea that is highly valued for its complex flavor and aroma. White tea is a delicate tea made from young tea leaves and buds and is known for its sweet and mild taste. Pu-erh tea is a fermented tea that is highly prized for its earthy taste and health benefits. Tea has played an essential role in Chinese culture for thousands of years. It has evolved from a medicinal remedy to a cultural symbol of refinement and hospitality. Today, Chinese tea varieties are enjoyed all over the world, and they continue to evolve and captivate tea lovers with their unique tastes and aromas.