Tag Archives: chinese tea

International Tea Day: A Celebration of Tea from China

News and Travel Editor

Did you know that tea is the second most consumed drink in the world, behind only water at no. 1? And that the average Briton drinks 876 cups of tea per year? If you’re as obsessed with tea as I am, then today is the day we’ve all been waiting for – International Tea Day!

Celebrated annually on December 15th since 2005, International Tea Day officially draws public attention to the impact of the international tea trade on estate workers and small-scale growers. Fairtrade have very much been leading the fight on this and you can check out the work they’re doing here.

As many of you will probably know, China is huge on all types of tea. In fact, it is estimated that there are at least 1500 kinds of tea! To celebrate, here is a rundown of our favourite tea facts and legends from China, as well as one of our favourite China Icons videos of Kate Humble receiving a tea making masterclass…

chinese-tea-drinking
Image by David Boté Estrada. Licensed under CC 2.0.

Did you know that tea is thought to have originated in China over 4000 years ago? The legend goes that tea was discovered by accident by Chinese Emperor Shennong in 2737 BC. One of Emperor Shennong’s far-sighted policies required water to be boiled before drinking to prevent the spread of disease (very forward thinking!). One day, whilst sat under a tree with a boiling cup of water, a tea leaf allegedly drifted into his tea and after drinking it, the Emperor stated ‘one can think quicker, sleep less, move lighter, and see clearer.’ Thus, tea was born.

For nearly 3000 years, tea was used for medicinal purposes and it wasn’t until the Tang Dynasty (618-907) that tea began to be enjoyed as an art form by all social classes. Nevertheless, Chrysanthemum tea remains a medicinal favourite in China and Korea as it’s thought to reduce fevers and ease headaches.

Tea also wasn’t just used for drinking… Believe it or not, tea was also used as a form of currency in Ancient China! Tea leaves were pressed into bricks and scored on one side to be broken up if change was needed.

Tea later became popular in Buddhist monasteries to keep monks awake during the hours of meditation. Because of the popularity tea gained, monks started to cultivate huge fields of tea. It was in one of these monasteries that a young orphan called Lu Yu was educated and wrote the book: The Book of Tea. This was a detailed account of ways to cultivate and prepare tea, tea drinking customs, the best water for tea brewing and different classifications of tea.

tea-plantation

So there you have it, whether you’re ill, tired or fully fit, you should never pass an opportunity to have a cup of (Chinese) tea. In the West, we have a lot of catching up to do. Whereas people in the East have generally been consuming tea for thousands of years, us backward folk in the West have only been drinking tea for 400 years, so we’re officially about 4000 years behind. There has never been a better excuse than International Tea Day to start catching up.

If you want to know more about Chinese tea, check out our video below of the lovely Kate Humble receiving a private masterclass in the delicate art of Chinese Tea making.

Tea Making-Masterclass (FT. KATE HUMBLE)

News and Travel Editor

If your brew is never quite how you like it, then you’re not alone.

It takes FIVE WHOLE YEARS to learn the art of drinking and serving tea in China.

So spare a thought for British TV presenter Kate Humble who China Icons challenged to learn the basics of the Chinese tea ceremony in just one day in Beijing!

See what Kate learnt about making and tasting Chinese tea – and how you too can produce a better cup at home.

Kate’s top tips include warming up all the vessels you need to make the tea and using more leaves than you think you need.

Are you a fan of Kate Humble? Check out her exclusive interview with China Icons about travelling around China during Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival.

Want to know more about different types of Chinese tea and how they are produced? Our content from Fujian shows you how the leaves make it from plantation to tea cup, or check out this guide.
Planning to to visit some tea plantations on your travels? Our tea lovers guide to Fujian tells you where to go and what to see.

What’s your favourite type of Chinese Tea? Let us know in the comments below!

A Connoisseur’s Guide to Chinese Tea

News and Travel Editor

There are so many different types of Chinese tea it can be hard to know where to start and what to order! To help navigate your taste buds through this diverse world, have a read of this first timer’s guide to Chinese tea.

 

Iron Goddess 

800px-Tieguanyin2Comes from… Anxi, Fujian Province

Tastes like… This Oolong tea variation is named after the Chinese Goddess of mercy Guanyin. It tastes slightly different depending on the time of year, with the most popular being the sweet and fruity taste of the Spring yields.

 

Big Red Robe 

Comes from… Northern FujianDa_Hong_Pao_Oolong_tea_leaf_close

Tastes like… This full and floral Oolong tea has a taste that lingers in your

mouth after drinking. The legend goes that drinking this tea cured the mother of a Ming Dynasty Emperor, so he sent red robes to cloak the bushes that it came from. This prestigious variety of tea is incredibly expensive, worth over a $1m/£600,000 per kilogram! There are cheaper varieties grown from the cuttings of the original plants, if you want a taste without breaking the bank.

 

Pu’er

Xiaguan_1992_tuo_cha

Comes from…Yunnan Province

Tastes like…A dark, fermented tea, Pu’er is named after Puer city in Yunnan

It is commonly believed that this tea tastes more delicious the longer it is left to

age. The tea is pressed into shapes such as bricks, balls or discs and has a deep

earthy flavour.

 

Snail Spring 

urlComes from… Dongting Mountains, Jiangsu Province

Tastes like… Dongting Biluochun is named after the mountains on which it grows, and its snail-shaped rolled leaves. A light, refreshing green tea!

 

Dragon Well 

Comes from… Longjing village, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province800px-Xi_Hu_Longjing_Tea_01

Tastes like… This hand-produced green tea literally translates as ‘Dragon Well tea’ after a Well close to Longjing Village. Dragon Well gets it name because rain falling on its surface supposedly creates a twisting boundary in the well water, which looks like a moving dragon! The flat pan-roasted leaves taste slightly sweet, mellow and grassy. If you want to really look like you know what you’re doing, brew in a Yixing clay teapot!

 

White Peony 

Comes from… Fujian Province800px-Baimudan.JPG

Tastes like...This white tea is sweet and floral! You can tell if it’s good stuff by the proportion of long, furry buds. The more of these tiny hairs floating in the water – the better the tea! Yum?

 

Lapsang Souchong 

Comes from… Wuji Mountain, Fujian Province

Tastes like… This black tea is dried over a pine fire, giving it a deep and smoky flavour! The story of this drying process goes that the tea was created during the Qing era when the passage of armies delayed the annual drying of the tealeaves in the Wuyi Mountain. To catch up for lost time, the tea producers sped up the process by drying tealeaves over fires of local pines!

800px-JacksonsLapsangSouchong_low

Once you’ve made up your mind, watch how to brew the perfect cup: