Do you know that next to water, tea is world's leading beverage? Although the exact origin of tea growing is uncertain, it is said to have been initiated by a Chinese emperor over 4,500 years ago. According to the best-known tale, in 2374 B.C., Chinese Emperor Chen Nung stumbled upon the drink when some tea leaves were blown into the water he was boiling to quench his thirst and upon tasting it, was pleasantly surprised by its flavor and aroma. Tea from China, along with her silk and porcelain, began to be known the world over more than a thousand years ago and has since always been an important Chinese export.
"Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one."
(Ancient Chinese proverb)
Tea, called "cha" in Chinese has been one of the daily necessities in China since time immemorial. Countless numbers of Chinese like to have their after-meal cup of tea. As the Chinese would often say it after a big meal "let's drink tea to "wash" the oil away from the system and ease digestion". In general, Chinese do not serve tea at meals.
Chinese tea may be classified into three categories according to the different methods by which it is processed. All of them may come from the same variety of tea plant. Depending on the process, the leaves are used to produce black tea
| (fermented), oolong tea (semi-fermented) or green tea (unfermented).
Black tea: Black tea, known as "red tea" ( hong cha in Chinese ) in China , is the category which is fully fermented before drying; it is a later variety developed on the basis of the green tea.
Oolong tea or Wulong tea is partially fermented. Its characteristics are half way between those of black tea and green tea. Its greenish-brown leaves have a richer flavor than green tea but a more delicate taste than black tea. Oolong tea is a specialty from the provinces on China 's southeast coast: Fujian , Guangdong and Taiwan.
Green tea is the variety which keeps the original color of the tea leaves without fermentation during processing. The enzymes in the leaves, which cause discoloring and fermentation, are deactivated by several minutes of steam heating. Because green tea looks and tastes nearer the original condition of the plant, only good and tender leaves are generally used for making green tea. Most flavored teas, such as jasmine, are made from the green tea.
One of the best green tea from China is from Lungjing ("Dragon Well"' of Hangchow). It is so well known that the name "Longjing tea" gets loosely used to mean any high-grade green tea.
Talking about green tea, my favorite ice cream is green tea flavored. Yummie!
The simplest way to make Chinese tea is the best. Just pour boiling hot water over the leaves, let it steep for 3 to 5 minutes, and you have tea. For medium-strength tea, use ½ to 1 teaspoon of tea per cup. For stronger tea, add more leaves rather than extending steeping time. After drinking the tea, leaving a small residue, you can pour in more boiling water to make a second or third infusion. It will probably be new to most of you that with good China tea, the second infusion is sometimes better than the first for green tea, and always better for black tea.
When you order tea you probably drink a full portion of the coloring matter and some tea, while the best part of the tea is thrown away. The very fastidious tea drinkers in China often throw away a quick infusion and only drink the second. The Chinese add neither mild or sugar to their tea.
Buy tea in a store with a high inventory turnover to obtain optimum taste. Bulk tea is almost always cheaper than tea bags; in addition, it is often of higher quality, as the leaves are uncrushed. Tea bags often contain inferior quality leaves mixed with tea powder and dust and bits of branches.
Chinese tea, like teas in general, is peculiarly sensitive to other aromas. For this reason, it should be kept in a container with tight fitting lid, preferably metallic. If stored in a loose-lidded container along with other things in a cupboard, it will absorb such aromas and its own flavor will be destroyed. Store in a dark, cool place. For optimum flavor, Chinese tea should be used within 6 months although it can keep for years.
Chinese Tea Quotes and Poems