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Chinese Tea 茶

chinese tea

Chinese Tea (茶)(cha) is considered by the Chinese as one of the daily necessities and it has very a very strong cultural symbolism.

Apart from being brewed for drinking, appreciation and its medicinal properties, tea is also used in religious (Buddhist and Taoism) rituals and incorporated as part of Chinese social customs. Tea is also consumed with festive foods like Moon cakes 月饼 during the Mid Autumn 中秋节 and Dumpling, Zong Zi 粽子during the Duan Wu Jie 端午节or Dumpling Festival.

Therefore, it is not surprising that when the Chinese migrate, tea and tea culture arrived with them to their new homeland.

Today, during a Chinese wedding ceremony, a bride is accepted into her husband's family through the offering of tea (敬茶)to her in-laws and husband's relatives.

It represents the official introduction of the bride to her new family as well as acceptance of her into the husbands family. When friends or relatives meet for food especially dim sum, it is described as "going for tea" (喝茶).

When tea is served with food, it is meant to be drunk as a beverage. Tea aids digestion and prevents absorption of fats into the body. Many scientific studies have presented evidence of tea's health benefits.

When served on its own, the tea is meant to be appreciated (品茶). Chinese tea appreciation has a long history and is a refined activity for personal enjoyment or with fellow tea lovers. Most tea lovers will also have a large collection of tea pots, tea sets and accessories.

Classification of Chinese Tea

The names of Chinese teas are often descriptive, poetic or reflects its history or legends. Examples include The Red Robe, 大红袍, Dragon's Well, 龙井, Beauty of the East, 东方美人, Silver Needles, 银针, and Phoenix Tea, 凤凰茶.

To tea lovers, such names add a degree of elegance to the art of tea appreciation. But to the uninitiated, the tea names do not say anything about the type, condition or quality of the tea leaves.

A few basic concepts will open the door to tea appreciation. Chinese tea is generally classified as  black tea (黑茶), oolong tea (乌龙茶), green tea(绿茶), yellow tea (黄茶),white tea (白茶)and floral tea(花茶).

Within each category, differences in location, climate and soil conditions, oxidation and roasting process give rise to a wide spectrum of taste and fragrances.

The different categories can be conceptualized as a spectrum as opposed to distinct type of teas. At one end is heavily roasted and fully oxidized black tea while at the other end is white tea which has undergone very little fermentation and little or no roasting. In between are oolong, green tea and yellow tea.

Floral tea can be produced with most types of tea leaves simply by adding flowers and buds.  Some examples of floral tea include osmanthus, jasmine, orchid, and chrysanthemum tea.

Tea appreciation is an acquired taste. Most beginners will find black tea familiar as it tastes similar to the English breakfast tea.  As you sample different types of tea, you will discover a range of taste, fragrance and aroma. Since tea appreciation is subjective, take your time to discover the specific type of tea that suits you. 

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Black tea

Wuyi Tea
(Oolong family)

Oolong tea

Green tea

Puer 普洱

Wuyi  武夷岩茶

Tieguan Yin 铁观音

Long Jin 龙井

osmanthus tea
桂花茶
gui hua cha

Jasmine tea
茉莉花茶
mo li hua cha

Orchid tea
兰花茶
lan hua cha

Rose tea
玫瑰花茶
mei gui hua cha