Chinese Tea Culture

Chinese Tea Culture

Although tea consumption may be a relatively new trend in the western world, it dates back over five thousand years in China. Tea was first served to dignitaries during important meetings and casual receptions, and since then has grown to be the national drink of China. Tea drinking in China is indispensable and is now revered for its numerous health benefits and according to some resources, was invented out of mere oversight. When first introduced, black tea was more preferred over green leaves, and the same trend is now quite evident in the western world.

In China, tea is not just a regular beverage; it is a significant part of their culture and day to day traditions. For example, before couples can be declared married, tea must be served by them to their elders and parents. The couples crouch down and offer the tea as a sign of gratitude and respect. Another example would be when offering a gesture of apology, tea would be offered and once it is accepted, it symbolizes that the person has granted forgiveness.

The rituals of tea drinking is not limited to China, but extends to the Far East, and the type of tea that is preferred or specific methods to drink the beverage vary from region to region. Good example would be black tea prepared in Japan may be similar in taste to China, but will have its own unique characteristics that clearly set it apart. In China, tea is prepared in houses, better known in America as shacks. These are literally hundreds of flavors and brands to choose from, with an option to choose between hot and cold, and some of the upscale houses offering both Japanese and Chinese style tea.

In Japan, green tea is appreciated and is often served at formal ceremonies, when guests arrive and at special occasions. The Japanese tea ceremonies are often referred to as “the way of the tea” which is an elaborate ceremony and where Matcha or powdered green tea is prepared. There are two forms of this large event, either a Chaji gathering or a Chakai ceremony. The former is a casual type ceremony where everyone gathers to simply enjoy a relaxing cup of tea. The latter is features a full meal followed by a cup of tea, which can last for hours.

Tea drinking is definitely serious business in the Far East, more for their rituals rather than health benefits. The information related to tea and health benefits are definitely worth pursuing, which will also help you get acquainted with the type you like the most.

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