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Hangzhou is a famous green tea plantation center in the world, and the Longjing Tea or Dragon Well Green Tea is the main tea planted in Hangzhou, and boasts the King of Green Tea in the world. Thanks to its great climatic condition and the advantageous landforms, Hangzhou tea culture and the tradition of drinking tea become the main part of Hangzhou local people’s lifestyle. China National Tea Museum is located in Longjing Village, the center of producing Longjing Green Tea, exactly in the thousands of
tea trees. Surrounded by tea, it is also famous for a fenceless museum in nature. To learn Chinese tea culture and history, China National Tea Museum is the first choice.
Together built by National Tourism Bureau, Zhejiang Provincial Government and Hangzhou Municipal Government, China National Tea Museum is a themed museum opened in 1990 with a total exhibition area of 2,244 square meters. The whole museum is generally comprised of four buildings. The No.1 building is the exhibition center consisting of six sections – History of Tea(茶史, is the main part of the whole museum featuring the development of tea industry of China and the culture as well as the academic study of tea), Highlights of Tea(茶萃, exhibiting the famous types of tea in China and the diversities of tea overseas), Procedure of Making and Tasting Tea(茶事, introducing the scientific knowledge of tea variety, tea making, and tea tasting), Relationship with Tea(茶缘), Tea Sets(茶具) and Custom of Tea(茶俗, introducing the way to drinking tea and its ceremonies of Ming and Qing Dynasties as well as in some regions like Yunnan province, Sichuan province, Tibet, Fujian province and Guangzhou province). The No.2 building is for welcoming the foreign guests and academic exchange. The No.3 building comprised of six tea rooms featured of different decoration styles for visitors to taste the different types of tea. The No.4 building is for showing the tea ceremonies, or Chadao(茶道), the inside architecture is featured of the Jiangnan garden style.
The name of the museum was written by Sha Menghai, the former president of Hangzhou Xiling Society of Seal Arts.
Hall of Tea History
Shennong, as agricultural god, was also the inventor of Chinese medicine. He discovered the five cereals as well as various herbals, which could cure human diseases. It was said that Shennong tasted various herbals so as to master the characteristics of herbal medicines and was poisoned seventy-two times a day but was detoxified by accidentally eating tea leave. This was the earliest description and written record about our forefathers' understanding of tea. The uses of tea were closely related with the discovery of tea. Tea was developed into a beverage through a long application process during which it was at once used as medicine, food and sacrificial offerings.
Tea was spread to the ancient Bashu states by river transportation from the place of origin Yun-Gui Plateau of Southwest China. It then developed quickly in Bashu. Bashu district was the earliest tea producing area and so was called cradle of Chinese tea. In the earliest local chronicles "Hua Yang Guo Zhi", it was recorded that people in Bashu states had begun to plant tea about 3000 years ago and they used tea as a local product to pay tribute to Emperor Zhou Wuwang.
In the Han Dynasty, tea drinking was very popular in Bashu district and tea began to be a commodity in commercial circulation. Wang Bao, a Sichuan celebrity of the West Han Dynasty wrote in his document " The contract with servant" about "brewing tea and preparing tea utensils" as well as "buying tea from Wuyang Town". "The contract with servant" was then a document for selling servants and has now become an important historical document about tea.
According to historical records, Wu Lizhen of the West Han Dynasty once planted eight tea plants on Shangqing Peak of Mengshan Mountain, from which there was a saying that the eight fairy tea plants were neither growing nor dying and those who drank four liang of the leaves would become celestial beings on the spot. The remains of Wu Lizhen planting tea can be seen now.
Although the people's understanding of tea remained primitive, there was a tea manufacturing method at that time. The methods of cake tea processing and drinking were followed until the Tang and Song periods. The only change was that the processing was more careful and the drinking more meticulous. According to historical records, there were a lot of tea scholars who were celebrities in ancient times, such as Yang Xiong and Sima Xiangru of the Han Dynasty.
In the West Jin and South-North dynasties, people used tea to keep honest against luxurious practices. In the most famous story, Lu Na served tea to his guests. Around the South Dynasty in the fifth century, Xiao Ji, the Emperor Qi Wudi(479-502), stipulated in his will that he did not want posthumous offerings of cattle; only cakes, fruit, tea, rice and wine. The stories that tea was used as posthumous offerings could be traced back to as early as the Zhou Dynasty. It can be seen from this the spiritual values of tea were understood by the people at the early stages of civilization.
Upsurge in Tea of the Tang Dynasty
During the Tang Dynasty, tea-drinking customs spread quickly in the north of China on the basis of development in south China. The lourishing and influences of Buddhism were important factors in promoting tea-dinking customs to spread from the South to the North of China. This was fully reflected in the "What Feng heard and saw" written by Feng Yan of Tang Dynasty. During the Kaiyuan period of Tang, a devilish subduing master from Lingyan Temple of Taishan Mountain subscribed to Chan (Buddhism) in a big way. Those who studied Chan or sat in meditation were required neither to sleep nor to eat food at night, but all of them could drink tea. So tea brewing and drinking could be seen everywhere. It gradually became a custom in the Buddhist circle because of each other's following.
Another important factor for the flourishing of tea affairs was the appearance of tribute teas for imperial court use. Tea drinking was popular in the imperial court of the Tang period and there were many forms of tea ceremonies and tea parties. The imperial court attached great importance to tea production. In the Dali fifth year of Tang (A.D. 770), Emperor Tang Daizong had Guanpei (Governmental baking) established on Guzhushan Mountain in Changxing of Zhejiang (a special production base for plucking and processing tea for imperial court use) and he instructed governors of Huzhou and Changzhou states to supervise the processing of tribute teas and to be in charge of transporting the Zisun tea, Yangxian tea and Jinsha spring water to the court. There was a saying that various herbals had no courage to bloom before the emperor could taste the Yangxian tea. Once the new tea was plucked and processed, it should be transported around the clock to the capital city Chang'an for hosting a "Qingming Banquet". It was reflected by poem of Li Ying of the Tang period that“ walk four thousand li, be sure to catch the Qingming Banquet.”
【Lu Yu and Classic of Tea】- "People have learnt new tea knowledge since Lu Yu was born in the world". The publication of Lu Yu's "Tea Classic" in the middle of Tang had an epoch-making significance and consequently the tea culture was then promoted to an unprecedented height.
Lu yu (A.D 733-804), also named Ji, was born in Jingling, Fuzhou of Tang (now Tianmen of Hubei Province). He was once an abandoned boy and his life was full of frustrations. He was adopted late by Buddhist monk Zhi Yi , who was proficient in conducting ceremony. When Lu Yu was young, he was in the good graces of Li Qiwu and Cui Yuanfu who were demoted to Jingling and Lu was trained by them.
After the upheaval of An and Shi, Lu Yu roamed to Huzhou and later dwelled in Zhaoxi in seclusion. He got acquainted with poet and monk Jia Ran and Yan Zhenqing, the Huzhou governor and great calligrapher. He sought quiet in the time of turmoil. He dedicated himself to practice, and traveled Jiangnan tea producing area to investigate tea affairs. According to his tea knowledge and tea tasting experience as well on the basis of summarizing the forefathers' experiences, he wrote the "Tea Classic", the first book on tea in the world. Lu Yu was respectively called Lu Zi by the later generations of tea scholars. The system of Lu's scientific tea theory was called "Lu's Science" and the tea merchants worshipped him as a "tea god".
"Tea classic" was a special book on tea. It summarized and reviewed the popular tea customs at that time and discussed the origin, history, production, manufacture, brewing and tasting of tea as well as various humane and natural factors, which made the tea science become a special discipline. The "Tea Classic" consisted of ten chapters, including chapter one "The Origin of Tea"; chapter two "The Utensils"; chapter three "Preparation of Tea"; chapter four "Implements of Brewing; chapter five "Brewing"; chapter six "Drinking"; chapter seven "Historical Records"; chapter eight "Producing Districts"; chapter nine "General Summary" and chapter ten "Memo Regarding Plates."
Tea Affairs in Tang Dynasty
The cake tea processing method was the major tea manufacturing method in the Tang Dynasty. The tea soup cooking with dressings was changed into pure tea brewing because of Lu Yu's advocacy after the middle Tang. The plucked tea leaves were steamed in a steamer, ground in a mortar, compressed into cake, dried and strung with rind of reed or bamboo. The cake tea was ground into powder, shifted and cooked in a caldron before drinking.
Painting of Lanting Picture Obtained by Xiao Yi drawn by Yan Liben was a precious reference about tea cooking by people of the Tang Dynasty, were a typical scene of tea cooking by people of the Tang Dynasty is shown. A series of tea sets used by the imperial family were unearthed in the underground palace of Famen Temple pagoda in Fufeng of Shaanxi in May 1985. It confirmed the existence of Lu Yu's tea ceremony.
"30% for thirst quenching and 70% for tasting". The greater contribution of Tang's tea men whom Lu Yu represented was that they advocated technical skills of tea tasting and accomplished the transformation from the rough thirst-quenching drinking to artistic, fine tasting so that tea tasting became a sophisticated and cultural activity.
In his Tea Classic, Lu Yu advocated a tea theory, from emphasis on cooking to emphasis on tasting, including the utensils and the complete procedure he wanted a tea drinker to have a realm of calm, to concentrate attention on the tea, to make the tea tasting activity become a medium of cultivating one's behavior and moral character as well as molding one's temperament. It created a precedent for Chinese tea ceremony and set a model for the development of tea culture in later ages.
Tea Spreading in Tang Dynasty
In the fifteenth year of Tang Zhenguan (A.D 641), tea was introduced into Tibet as the dowry of Princess Wencheng. Tea had become a staple of border trade commodities in the Tang Dynasty. The new Tang's book "Lu Yu's Biography" recorded that Huihe people traded horses for tea in the morning. This was the beginning of tea-horse trade, which lasted for more than one thousand years through the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. Tea was then introduced into the Northwest, Southwest, Mongolia and Tibet.
Prosperous Tea Culture of Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was historically an important period during which tea culture was highly developed. The major characteristics of the Song's tea included exquisite workmanship of tribute tea- dragon-phoenix ball tea, elegant tea competition skills and tea serving arts. Tea drinking method of the Song Dynasty was transformed into infusing method from cooking method used by the Tang people. The so-called tea infusing was that ground tea powder was put into a tea bowl, stirred with implements while boiling.
【Dragon-phoenix Ball Tea】- Dragon-phoenix ball tea was a general designation for Song’s North Garden tribute tea, i.e. the Dragon ball tea and the Phoenix Cake Tea. The North Garden located in Phoenix Mountain of Jian'ou, Fujian Province. The Dragon-phoenix ball tea had already made during Song Taiping Xingguo period (A. D. 976-983). During Xianping period (A.D 998-1003), Ding Wei made "Big Dragon Ball" to pay tribute. During Qingli period, Cai Xiang made "small Dragon Ball" which got the better of the "Big Dragon Ball". The Dragon-phoenix ball tea was the greatest achievement of ancient Chinese cake tea production. The greatest development and contribution of Song people to tea culture was reflected in the harmony with tea and related arts, it carried tea tasting toward the perfection of scholar tea.
Scholar tea tasting was very popular in the Song Dynasty
The first-rate scholars such as Wang Yucheng, Cai Xiang, Fan Zhongyan, Ouyang Xiu, Wang Anshi, Mei Raochen, Su Shi, Su Che, Huang Tingjian, Lu You were all involved in the tea tasting. Su Dongpo's poem reads: "a fine tea had always been mentioned in the same breath with beautiful women". It was a mature symbol of Chinese tea culture. The tea tasting procedure was developed from daily tea drinking.
The purpose of tea tasting of scholars, monks and priests of the past dynasties was mainly for intellectual enjoyment. So they wrote a lot of poems and prose about tea tasting and they advocated tea banquets, tea ceremonies and tea parties. For them, tea was a precious and noble drink and tea tasting was an intellectual enjoyment, means of cultivating moral character and nature, and realm of artistic atmosphere. Monk Qi Yi described exactly the realm: "autumn billows calm in the stone caldron, tasting mountainous tea as returning from sitting in meditation".
Jingshan Tea Banquet-Spreading in the Song Dynasty
Jingshan mountain is now located on the north foot of Tianmu Mountain on the border of Yuhang and Lin'an counties, Zhejiang Province. Jingshan Temple, established by Monk Fa Qin, was once well known all over the world and rated the top of Jiang'nan Temples. Fine teas had been produced on Jingshan Mountain for past dynasties. It was said that Monk Fa Qin planted several tea plants there and plucked them for offerings. It was fragrant in the valleys where his hands stretched plucking the tea leaves. The monks and priests of the later ages always used the fragrant tea from the Temple to serve their guests. In the course of time, a series of tea serving ceremonies were gradually formed, which was late called "tea banquet".
Nanura and Seiichi, two Japanese monks, went successively to Jingshan Temple to study Buddhism in the Song Dynasty. Yeisai, a Japanese eminent monk, came to China to study Buddhism twice during the Song Dynasty. He brought tea seeds and tea tasting methods to Japan while returning from study, and he then wrote the book "Kitcha Yojoki" (The Book of Tea Sanitation).
Original Purity and Simplicity Returning of Tea Culture in Ming Dynasty
On the sixteenth day of ninth month in Ming's Hongwu twenty-fourth year ( A. D. 1391), Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang issued an imperial edict that loose leaf tribute tea should be paid instead of the conventional ball tea. It was highly praised by people of the later ages that the Imperial Court fully considered the laboring people and stopped ball tea production, only tender tea buds were picked for paying tribute because the real tea flavor was lost when tea was ground with spice and compressed into small cakes. The people then picked the best leaves just the flushing buds, heated spring water in a tripod, then infused and tasted it. The tea tasting system of the ages was found.
Tea competition of the South Song period and the North Song period was over and cake tea was replaced by loose tea. The tasting method of grinding and cooking tea was changed into the boiling water and infusing method. The epoch-making changes took place. Pure tea drinking lasting for the later ages started. This drinking method was considered by the Ming people to be particularly simple, naturally interesting, and true flavor tasting. In fact, this infusion method was developed on the basis of loose tea drinking method in the folktales of the Tang Dynasty.
The New Pattern of Scholar's Tea Culture in the Ming Dynasty
Some scholars of the Ming dynasty such as Wen Zhengming,Tang Yan, Xu wei were all great men of letters who had talent but no opportunity to use it. In the fields of music, chess, painting and calligraphy, they were omniscient. They all had the hobby of tasting tea. They created a new situation in "Scholar tea" of the Ming Dynasty. They all left lots of excellent works and precious materials for later generations.
Compared with their predecessors, they laid more stress on selection of natural environment and construction of aesthetic temperament and interest during tea tasting, which was fully reflected in their works. The great painters either played music, brewing tea, with the harmony of the tinkling of spring, breeze, music, and the sound of boiling water in tea pot, or sat opposite each other to taste tea in a hatched cottage, or stood alone against verdant hills and watched the river surging. Once tea was involved in the nature, it was not only a physical product, but also a medium for people to correspond and to return to nature.
The Rise of Tea Science
Zhang Yuan composed the outstanding "Tea Records" according what he learnt from his long term experience of tea tasting. Xu Cishu was particularly good at tea ceremony and wrote "Tea Reports"; among which Zhu Quan and his "Tea Manual" had a especially important contribution. Zhu Quan (A.D.1378-1448), the seventeenth son of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, was considered to have "handsome manner, wisdom and eloquence ". He hid his light and dwelled in seclusion in the South for a long time to live out his life in retirement, during which time he kept his mind clear and calm by tasting tea, playing musical instruments and reading, paying no attention the world affairs. He clearly indicated that his fondness of tea was to use tea as a medium to express his lofty aspirations and to cultivate his moral character rather than to love the taste of tea itself. Zhu Quan explored the loose tea drinking method after the ball tea processing was stopped. He reformed the traditional drinking method and the tea sets, and advocated simple process to keep the nature of tea.
Tea Road on the Sea- Spreading in the Ming Dynasty
From 1405 to 1433, Zheng He, a Ming Sanbao eunuch, made seven long voyages to middle-southern peninsula, South Ocean islands, Bangladesh, India, Iran and Arab States. The farthest areas he reached were the east Coast of Africa and the Coast of Red Sea. Every time when he set out he brought him with tea. South Asian countries played an important part in the spread of Chinese tea. It was these countries that played a role of medium between China and the Mediterranean or European Countries by sea. After the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, Chinese tea was transported to Europe by way of these countries and so "the Tea Road " by sea was formed. It was this route that promoted the spread of Chinese culture all over the Europe and America.
Tea Becoming Common Customs in the Qing Dynasty
During the Qing Dynasty, the main stream of Chinese tea culture - the spirit of traditional culture of nation began to enter common people's life. Tea house culture and tea customs culture replaced the former elite tea culture. Tea culture penetrated into the city people's daily life and became common customs and a noble national sentiment as it was integrated with traditional etiquette and order of importance and seniority in human relationships.
Foreign Trade of Tea - Spreading in the Qing Dynasty
During the early Qing Dynasty, Chinese tea production developed with surprising rapidity. The tea field area and production volume were increased by a big margin. Chinese tea rapidly entered the world market as a staple trade commodity and once monopolized the whole world tea market. Then tea entered the Commercial era.
Tea Houses in the Qing Dynasty
Teahouse trades in the Qing Dynasty prospered greatly. Various tea houses were distributed all over the cities and the country, they were beyond count and all afforded magnificent views. They constituted the basis of the modern magnificent teahouse phenomenon. Teahouses were distributed all over the country in the Qing Dynasty. The special teashops, tea stores, tea companies and tea firms appeared one after another. Hangzhou Wenglongsheng Tea Firm was found in 1730. It was a tea firm of great reputation in selling Westlake Longjing Tea of three-prior plucking (prior to Guyu festival, prior to Qingming festival, prior to Chunfen festival). Shanghai Wangyutai Firm was also well known for selling black tea and green tea from Anhui.
The Improvement Stage-The Early Period of the Republic of China
At the end of 19 century, tea industry developed in the south Asian countries while Chinese tea production went from bad to worse, with decrease of yield and export because Western countries enforced blockade. After 1911, the men of insight whom Wu Juenong represented actively introduced modern science and technology as well as managing system to perform a series of improvements and reforms in tea industry. These laid a foundation for development of Chinese tea industry. But it made little progress. Tea industry then declined rapidly because transportation was blocked and tea areas were occupied by the enemy.
History is continuous. As one piece of fuel is consumed, the flame passes to another. Tea entered the magnificent world from the luxuriant jungles of Southwest China, during which it went through numerous sufferings and protracted tortuous struggle. Tea embodies the intimate relationship between humans and nature. It infiltrated into the lofty life ideal of the Chinese nationality since the beginning when tea was introduced into human life.
Tea Kaleidoscope Hall
With a long history of tea processing and far-flung tea plantation, Chinese have attained rich knowledge and experience of tea collecting and processing during long practices. In the past thousands of years, various types of tea have been developed and in every category there are a lot of reputable teas. Tea makers always say, “It is never too old to learn names of tea.” Furthermore, people are amazed by the acme of making,， perfection of quality and excellence of flavor, which keep being improved every day. Systematically, tea, according to its manufacturing and quality differences, is divided into six major categories -- green tea, black tea, Oolong tea, yellow tea, white tea, dark tea, and reprocessed teas -- jasmine tea, pressed tea, extracted tea, etc.
Six basic types of tea:
Green Tea - Green tea is the high-yield tea in China, with all 19 main tea provinces in as suppliers of green tea. China boasts the largest variety of green tea in the world, and covers 70% of the world trade volume of green tea. Three basic technological steps in the process of producing green tea are heating green tea, rubbing and rotating, and drying. The ways to heat green tea are mainly to heat or steam green tea (tea processed in the latter way is called “steamed green tea”). Drying, due to different ways, are divided into pan-dried green tea, basket-fired green tea, sun-dried green tea.
1. Pan-dried green tea: It is the largest mass product in green tea. Basic procedure: high temperature heating, rubbing, and re-baking till dry. It is divided, in forms, into twisted pan-dried green tea, round pan-dried green tea, and flat pan-green tea.
2. Basket-fired green tea: It is the tea after being heated and rubbed, and then dried. It looks intact, with fine white hair and fresh green color. The tea made of it smells fragrant and tastes lightly sweet. Based on raw materials and processing methods, it is divided into common basket-fired green tea and tender basket-fired green tea.
3. Sun-dried green tea: It is dried by sunshine, and is mainly raw materials for bowl-shaped compressed mass of tea, cake tea, and brick tea, etc. Main provinces: Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Hubei, Shanxi, etc.
4. Steamed green tea: It is produced by steam the tea first, then rubbing, and finally drying. This tea has green color, green water, and green fresh leaves.
Blank tea - is processed by withering, kneading , fermenting and drying. It is fermenting that causes the changes of its chemical compositions and turns the green leaves into black. The properties of black tea differ very much from that of green tea. For instance, green tea is good for its natural green color, while orange red is the best color for black tea water. Of all tea products in the world today, black tea is produced and consumed in the largest quantity. Chinese black tea has three types: Gongfu black tea, Xiaozhong black tea and broken black tea.
1.Xiaozhong black: This special type of black tea from Fujian is fired and fumigated on pine wood fire, which adds a special scent of pine smock to its fragrance. This is the main difference between Xiaozhong black tea and Gongfu black tea.
2. Gongfu black tea is a traditional product of China, especially famous for its delicacy in shape, color, fragrance and flavor. Main tea provinces: Anhui, Yunnan, Fujian, Hubei, Hunan, Shichuan, etc.
3. Broken black tea is also called graded black tea .The processing techniques were developed in the late nineteenth century from the processing of Gongfu black tea .Its shape goes from half-leaf to powder, and the flavor is strong and delicious. Broken black tea is especially good for being drunk with sugar, milk or lemond.
Oolong tea - also called Qing-cha, is grown in Fujian, Guangdong and Taiwan. It is processed by withering and fermenting and also with the green- tea –processing technique of killing the enzymes. So that it is also called semi-fermented tea, and its flavor goes between green and black tea. People describe it as “green leaves with red edges”.
White Tea - White tea falls in the category of light fermented tea, processed in technical order of withering, drying or baking. It is mainly produced in Fujian Province. To make white tea, people usually select buds that have a lot of soft fine hairs. The tea is silvery white, light in soup color, and pure in taste. It is divided into bud tea and leaf tea according to different raw materials.
Yellow Tea - The quality of yellow tea is “yellow soup and leaves,” which is the result of stuffing yellow during the course of processing tea. Based on the tenderness and size, this tea is divided into yellow bud tea, yellow small tea and yellow large tea.
Dark Tea - The basic technological process of making dark tea is heating, rubbing, piling and drying. Its raw materials are relatively rough and ripe, due to long time of storing, and look as black as oil. Ethnic minorities in the border area drink this type of tea, so it is also named “border area tea.”
Reprocessed teas: products reprocessed from six major categories of tea as raw materials.
(1) Jasmine Tea: Tea and fragrant flower jasmine are mixed together to allow the tea to absorb the fragrance, so this type is also called smoked jasmine tea. The flavor drinks mellow and sweet. Main regions of jasmine tea are Fujian, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Sichuan, Guangdong, etc.
(2) Pressed Tea: Dark, green or black tea as raw materials is reprocessed, steamed and pressed into a certain shape.
(3) Extracted Tea: With finished or half-done tea products as raw materials, extract dissolvable substances from the tea by hot water, and abandon residues. Concentrate or dry the tea juice left, ready for solid or liquid teas.
Hall of Tea Properties
Tea has been chanted for several thousand years since it was first discovered and used by Shennong. "There are seven matters related to the starting of a family's life, firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, vinegar and tea." This old Chinese saying shows the indissoluble bond of Chinese people with tea. Generations of tea scholars have made countless explorations and trying of tea. But much development of tea properties was not made until the birth of Lu Yu's Tea Classic. Through the ages, the growing, manufacturing, Preserving, drinking, utilizing, and the utensils of tea have developed their own unique skills, particular methods and appeals.
Storage of Tea
Environmental Factors Affecting Tea Quality
1. Temperature - Chemical changes of oxidation and polymerization are closely related to temperature, the higher the temperature the quicker the reactions. It was confirmed that rate of tea browning was increased by 3 to 5 times when temperature is raised by 10 ℃.
2. Moisture - Alimentary scientific theory revealed that components in absolutely dried foods were directly exposed to the air and easily be oxidized by oxygen in the air. When water molecules were aggregated with food components by hydrogen bonding, there formed a single molecular layer, the food seemed to be covered by a protection film. When tea moisture was about 3%, this single molecular protection film was formed. So the lipids in the tea were separated from oxygen in the air and prevented from oxidization by the film. On the contrary, when the moisture content was above this level, the water played a role of solvent instead of a protection film.
3. Oxygen - Oxygen can aggregate with almost every element and form an oxidized product. But oxygen in the air is most commonly found in molecular form and therefore not very active.
4. Illumination - Light itself is a kind of energy. Illumination can increase the energy level of the whole system illuminated and is detrimental to tea storage.
Storage of A Great Quantity Tea
1. Quick Lime storage method - This method is always used in storing staples of high quality teas such as West Lake Longjing, Dongting Biluochun, Huangshan Maofeng and Jingning Huiming teas. Quick lime is used as a desiccating agent to keep the tea dry and to delay the deterioration of the tea. A sealed pottery container with a big belly but small mouth is usually used.
2. Charcoal Storage Method - This method is always used in storing Oolong tea and sometimes Congou Black tea. Its principle and method are almost the same as quick lime storage method. The fully fired charcoal is covered with a fire pan or an earthen basin so that the fire goes out. 100 g of the prepared charcoal is wrapped in a clean cotton cloth and put in a pottery jar or an iron sheet bucket. The jar or bucket is then filled with the tea wrapped in craft paper and sealed up.
3. Vacuum and nitrogen-aerated Packing Method - This is a major storage method of famous teas for recent years, especially small packaged famous teas. The tea to be stored is dried for up to three to five percent of moisture content and filled in a bag made of plastic and aluminium compound foil. The bag containing tea is then vacuumed up, refilled with nitrogen gas and then sealed.
Family storage of Tea
1.pottery Jar Storage - Feng Mengzheng described in "Kuai Xue Tang Man Lu" that a big jar with bamboo leaves at the bottom was filled with tea, sealed and placed upside down to prevent gas leaking; the tea would not yellow even after summer. During home storage of small quantities of tea nowadays, tea with moisture content less than 6% is wrapped in craft paper and placed on the inside of a pottery jar. Quick lime wrapped in cloth was placed at the center of the tea packages. The quantity of quick lime depends on the quantity of tea.
2. Tin Storage Method - This method is simple and popular in home storage of teas. The clean, commercial galvanized iron tin is filled with the purchased tea. To keep dry, a parcel of silica gel is put inside as a desiccating agent.
3. Plastic Bag Storage method - Plastic bags, in various assortments and with properties, lower price and easy use, are the most popular packing materials for tea nowadays. Storing tea in plastic bags is one of the most simple and economical methods in home storage. It is important to choose appropriate plastic bag materials. First, plastic bags special for food packing instead of other non-food packing plastic bags are chosen. Second, the density of the plastic materials should be higher; low-pressure plastics are better than high-pressure ones. Third, its strength should be appropriate and it is better to choose a stronger one. Fourth, it should be free of contaminants and have no holes. Tea is first wrapped in a clean soft paper and then packed in the plastic bags.
Biological Conformation of Tea Plants
"Tea is a fine tree of the South". Tea plants, grown mainly in the South of China, are an important cash crop in China. Tea is made from fresh leaves picked from the tea plant. "Tea, essence of the mountains and quintessence of the soil". A tea's quality has strict demands on variety, soil, climate, environment and technique of cultivation and processing. Tea is a harmonious masterpiece of nature and human being.
Everyone likes to drink tea but it is not easy to brew a cup of fine tea with superior color, aroma and taste. Brewing skill is a learned art for a tea lover. Tea brewing is a process tracing back to the life of the tea (planting-processing-storage). The lofty ideal of tea planters and manufacturers is to develop and preserve the color, aroma and taste of tea, while the wish of tea tasters is to enjoy the color, aroma and taste of the tea; brewing skill is the bridge of the both.
Brewing a pot of fine tea is influenced by many factors such as the nature of the water, water volume, water temperature, tea type and quality, tea quantity, infusing duration and tea sets. So it is important to stress the precision and artistry of brewing. As for the precision of brewing, the inherent quality of tea should be volatilized and extracted relying on the fact that the characteristics of various teas and scientific brewing skills are mastered. Here the nature of water, the temperature of water, the quantity of tea and the duration of brewing are most important.
As for artistry of brewing, appropriate tea sets for various teas should be used, while traditional and elegant brewing operation and arts should be stressed. To make fine tea, water choices and skillful brewing techniques are very important. As for preparing loose tea, brewing in a pot and infusing in a cup became perfected over hundreds of years. It was a process from "non-order" to "order" and from "non-promise" to "promise". It emphasizes traditional processes and combinations of image and expression. The operator should have mental preparation, be familiar with nature of the tea, set his mind on doing it well, i.e. the "idea of tea" as the saying goes. The operation should be elegant, natural, appropriate, leisurely, and methodical so that the host and the guests be absorbed in the process of brewing and tasting. This inspires the taster to be in an ideal state and be a charmed by the tea with perfect enjoyment and perception.
Tea and Water
The ancients said: "Water is the mother of tea." A fine tea should be infused with good water. It was reflected that people delight in talking about the "double uniqueness" of Hangzhou - "Longjing tea and Tiger-Running spring water". There was also a saying handed down from ancient times: "Tea from the top of Mengshan Mountain and water from Yangtze River were the best choices."
Ancient people studied waters used for brewing tea as a special discipline. Xu Cishu of the Ming Dynasty described in his book "Tea Report" that the essence of a fine tea was volatilized by water, he wrote that tea could not be evaluated without water. Zhang Dafu discussed in his "Meihuacaotang Conversation by Writing" that the nature of tea was discovered in water; one hundred percent perfect tea liquid could be obtained when eighty percent perfect tea was infused with one hundred percent perfect water, while eighty percent perfect tea liquid could be obtained when one hundred percent perfect tea was brewed with eight percent perfect water". Zhang Yuan described in "Tea Records" that“Tea was the god of water and water the foundation of tea".
Infusing Procedure of Longjing Tea
The soaking method is used in making a cup of Longjing tea. Two grams of Longjing tea is put in a transparent glass cup and infused with a quarter cup of about 80 ℃boiled water for 20-40 seconds so that the leaves are soaked and tea components extracted out. Then additional hot water is poured in, with the water kettle up and down continuously for three times until the cup is seventy percent full. This process is called "Three-Noddings of Phoenix" which means to pay respect to the guests and helps the leaves move up and down diminishing the concentration difference between upper and lower layers. The70% full cup means "Seventy percent tea and thirty percent affection makes it perfect", as the saying goes.
As the tea is infused through the process of "Three Noddings of Phoenix", the tender shoots are unfolding, looking like spears or flags flying in the water, moving up and down, with vapor above the water's surface. This magnificent view is regarded as "tea dancing" which people always talk about with great relish.
Infusing Procedure of Gongfu Tea
As early as the Qing dynasty, the "Gongfu tea" brewing method has been considered as stemming from the "Tea Classic" of Lu Yu. An extraordinary and quaint tea set, also called "Four Treasures", is required to brew "Gongfu tea". It includes: first, "Yu Shu Wei", a reddish brown oblate sphere pottery kettle, with capacity of 4 Liang water (about 200 ml); second, "a Chaoshan wind stove", a stove for heating water; third, "a Mengchen Guan", an exquisite Yingxing purple sandy clay tea pot with size similar to goose egg and capacity of 1 Liang water (about 50ml), which according to legend was first developed by Hui Mengchen, a craftsman of no equal of his time; fourth, "Ruo Shen Ou", four extraordinary small white porcelain cups placed on an elliptic porcelain tray.
Generally, Oolong tea is used and sometimes Broken Black Tea is also used during Gongfu tea brewing. Before brewing "Gongfu" tea, tea sets are generally cleaned and warmed. Then the water is heated by a charcoal fire. The teapot "Meng Chen Guan" is half filled with tea and then filled to the brim with boiling water by "high pouring" such that the tea leaves inside are heated evenly while diving up and down. Sometimes, boiling water is poured over the pot with lid replaced to keep the hot temperature of water inside, and to extract and volatilize the tea flavor. This process is generally called "You Hu" (traveling pot).
The four small teacups are arranged in a square array on the tray. When the tea aroma emits from the pot, the tea liquid in the pot is poured into the four cups with the pot moving in circles above the four cups so that concentration of the liquid in each cup is the same. This method is called "Guan Gong patrolling the castle". The last drops of the liquid are also dripped evenly into the four cups, which is called "Han Xin Dian Bing" (Han Xin Counting Soldiers).
Ancient people were very particular about heating water called "Tang Hou". As early as the Tang Dynasty, Lu Yu summed up a three-boiling method of heating water in Chapter Five "Brewing" of the "Tea Classic". When the water first boils, an image appears like the eyes of fishes are on the surface; this is the first boiling. Then appears something like a spring rushing forth and a string of pearls at the side of the caldron; this is the second boiling. Then along come the waves and breakers; this is the third boiling. Lu Yu considered that water of the third boiling was over-boiled and should not be drunk. He pointed out that seasonings should be put in during the first boiling and tea be put in during the second boiling.
During the Song Dynasty, however, a kettle with a small neck was used to heat water instead of the uncovered caldron used in Tang Dynasty, as a requirement of "dian cha" (infusing tea). Then it was difficult to identify the "Hou Tang" with naked eyes. So Cai Xiang said: "Hou Tang was the most difficult". Therefore, another method and standard to identify "Hou Tang" was proposed, i.e. identifying by hearing the sound of boiling water. Song's people considered that when the water first boiled, noise like insects chirping could be heard. This was the first boiling. When the sound was like a cart rumbling, this was the second boiling. When the water sound was like the singing of the wind in the pines or the murmuring stream, this was the third boiling. Then it was time to take up the kettle and pour the boiling water into the cups containing tea powder. The earlier three boiling was required in the "Hou Tang" because the infusing method of Song Dynasty was different from the cooking method of Tang Dynasty.
Tea and Health
"No Emperor Wei Di's drug pills are needed if one drinks seven cups of Lu Tong's tea". Tea was used as a drug when it first entered human life. It is generally considered that tea had been used as a drug before the Qin and Han Dynasty. In the Tea Classic, Lu Yu mentioned again the "medicinal property" of tea when he analyzed the nature of tea. He pointed out that tea had several functions: refreshing, keeping one's head cool, relaxing, detoxifying and curing boils. Chen Cangqi of the Tang Dynasty made it more clean in "Ben Cao Shi Yi" when he wrote that tea was a miraculous drug that can cure any disease.
In the Ming Dynasty, Qian Chunshou wrote in his work "Tea Manual" that drinking real tea could quench thirst, help digestion, get rid of illness, decrease sleep, improve eyesight, benefit thinking, suppress dyspepsia and dispel grease. Li Shizhen confirmed the pharmaceutical functions of tea from the Chinese medicinal theory point of view and he developed various decocting and administration methods. According to various historical references, more than 20 pharmaceutical functions of tea were summed up by scholars of later ages. These include: sleeping less, calming nerves, benefiting eyesight, stimulating the head up, helping to produce saliva and slaking thirst, dispelling heat, detoxifying, helping digestion, sobering up, dispelling grease, farting, stimulating evacuation of faeces, curing dysentery, casing expectoration, relieving rheumatic pains and colds, strengthening teeth, curing children's boils, curing fistula, increasing physical power and prolonging life.
In the twentieth century, with the development of biochemistry and the involvement of medical science, the pharmaceutical functions of tea have been further understood. It was confirmed that tea contained caffeine, various vitamins and amino acids. Tea has an obvious curative effect on many common diseases, such as preventing dental caries, disinfecting, alleviating poisonous effect of smoking on human body, detoxifying poisonous effects of heavy metals, anti-radiation, lowering blood pressure and blood sugar, anti-arteriosclerosis, anti-mutation and anti-aging. Tea is now wins the praise of an atomic era beverage.
Works on Water
Lu Yu was the first person to discuss and evaluate waters used for brewing tea in the writing called "Tea Classic". He pointed out that flow mountain water was the best, river water was the next and well water was the worst. Among waters from the mountains, water from springs stone ponds and murmuring streams were the best. On this basis, tea scholars of the later ages summed up the standards for evaluating water from the nature by the following qualities: clarity, cleanliness, light, sweetness and flow.
Clear: the water should be colorless and transparent, without precipitates.
Light: Emperor Qinglong measured spring waters everywhere using a special silver "dou" (a measuring container). He concluded that spring water from Sanquan Mountain of Beijing was the lightest and wrote an inscription for it: "The First Spring under Heaven". Today, the evaluation was understood by calcium and magnesium content analyzed with modern technology (i.e. hard water or soft water).
Sweet: It referred to the fresh taste of water.
Cold: The water should be cold before heated. The ancient people thought it estimable to cook tea in snow water.
Clean: The water should be free from dirt or contaminants.
Flowing: Su Shi's poem reads that "Fresh water should be heated from running water". Tang Geng of the Song Dynasty described in his "Tea Competition Notes" that water could be from either river or well, the important thing was that it was flowing". Stagnant water should mot be used.
Modern Scientific Indicators
With the advancement of modern science and technology, standards for the nature of water were raised, including:
1. Suspended matter: content of insoluble solid substance isolated by filtration.
2. Soluble solid matter: total content of soluble mineral elements.
3. Hardness: content of the most common elements such as calcium and magnesium in natural water.
4. Alkalinity: content of subjects which can accept hydrogen ions.
5. pH value: a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution
Water for brewing tea, should have a lower content of suspended matters, but no visible suspended particles. The water hardness should be less than 5 degrees, and pH less than 5. Surface water in non-saline areas can also be used.
Tea Sets History
An old saying goes, "Either higher or lower in social status, either rich or poor, every family has kitchen utensils as necessities." Ever since the tea appeared in Chinese'life, no matter it is for medical treatment, eating or drinking, it can't do without tea sets. In the history of the application, the tea, tea sets, as part of the cultural system of utensils, keep developing continuously. Tea sets vary in material, shape, technology and naming due to diversified drinking habits and customs in different historical periods, different areas and different nationalities. Tea sets are of high values not only in practical use, but also in visual arts. "Delicious food is less charming than beautiful wares." Artistic values in fine tea sets are eye pleasing, and promotes Chinese'enjoyment of tea.
Tea sets before the Tang dynasty: The archetype of tea set can be traced back to pottery utensils used by Chinese in Neolithic Era. According to earliest written history, the first tea drinkers were people in Sichuan in the Han dynasty, when no tea sets had been singled out. The blue glazed calyx with tray in the Jin and the Northern and Southern Dynasties can be regarded as the earliest mature tea set.
Tea sets in the Tang dynasty: Tea drinking was so prevailing in the Tang dynasty that the tea set had established its own system. In the Chapter of Tea Set of his Encyclopedia of Tea, Lu Yu named 28 kinds of tea sets and divided them into wares for cooking, grinding, drinking and storing tea based on their function. At that time porcelain tea sets were mass produced in North and South China, with Yue ware and Xing ware as representatives for “Northern white and Southern blue.” Other major wares were in Changsha, Shouzhou, Hongzhou, Yuezhou, etc. Tea sets in the Tang dynasty were mainly bowls, cup supports and affusion ware, e.g., Jade Bowl unearthed in Changsha ware, Bottle of Tea Society unearthed in a Xi’an tomb, etc. Besides ceramic tea sets, there were tea sets of gold and silver. Through the silver tea sets with gold-plating unearthed from the underground of Famen Temple, we’ll see the grand spectacle of drinking tea in the royal court of Tang.
Tea sets in the Song dynasty (Liao-Jin Period): Tea drinking became popular among folks in the Song dynasty, and there were a lot of porcelain wares that produced tea sets, e.g., the Five Famous Wares – Guan, Ge, Ding, Ru, Jun.. Jian’ou Beiyuan tea was royal tribute. Its dragon and phoenix tea cakes are best if pure white in color. In addition, there were severe competitions, and black glaze calyx and kettle were often winners, e.g. Jian’s rabbit calyx, Jizhou’s flecked calyx, hawksbill calyx, leaf line and paper-cut applique dark glaze calyx, and Cizhou’s rusty black glaze calyx. Apart from that, blue glaze tea sets were also mass-produced in Longquan (South) and Yaozhou (North). The bamboo hat bowl is a typical tea ware in the Song dynasty.
Tea sets in the Ming and Qing dynasty: As the loose tea drinking was very popular at Ming and Qing dynasty, the utensils like teapot, cup and covered bowl became the main tea set at that time. Porcelain tea sets were still used extensively, the white and blue and relative color tea sets had reached their height of splendor in the Emperors Kang Xi, Yong Zheng and Qian Long's reign, especially, the emerge of color glaze-pink and enamel made the tea set more exquisite and noble. With the flourishing of loose tea, the purple clay tea set became the most popular tea-drinking utensil, beside the growing technology of making tea pot, the involvement of poet and literator added tea set a lot of culture characteristic. Also, at that time, the tin pots were used by more and more people for it art characteristic. This also made a lot of famous pot-makers at that time.
Tea Customs Hall
China boasts of a vast territory, a long history and various ethnic minorities. Traditions and customs about tea of every historical period and every region are part of Chinese culture. The Tea Culture came into being at pace with the development of economy and culture of all these nationalities, and has great impact on them in many an aspect.
Studied on their continuum and variability, sociality and locality, diversified tea customs show the acceptance, understanding and rendition of tea culture, to different degrees, of all nationalities in China. The Tea Culture, as one spiritual wealth and cultural heritage of China, mirrors close relationship between Chinese people and tea.
Congou - Also called Kongfu Tea, which prevails in local Guangdong, Fujian, Taiwan, etc. An ancient record in The Diary of Chaozhou Area Folkways reads, “the way that congou is prepared was originally from The Encyclopedia of Tea by Lu Yu in the Tang dynasty.” By exquisite tea sets, unique making and elaborate formalities, people drink tea as a spice to daily life and the first courtesy of social activities. To make tea, water from springs and wells is recommendable. As for such half-fermented and dried teas as Wolong and Iron Kwan-yin, the pot and cups should be scalded at first, and then the pot is stuffed with 7/10 tea, with procedures of high scald, low sprinkling, shaving foams, pouring over the lid, cup and canister.
Baked Tea - A popular tea among ethnic minorities in Yunnan, like Dai, Hani, Lahu, Blang, Jino, Wa, etc. Put some Sun-dried tea in a crock, which is then rolled and baked in the fire, until it smells burnt fragrant. Pour boiled water into a copper pot of baked tea, mulling for some time. Baked tea is rich in juice, bright in color, and the flavor is something between sweetness and bitterness. It is widely used by ethnic minorities in Southwest China to entertain guests.
Buttered Tea - Called "Kyamir" in Tibetan, it is popular in Tibetan areas (e.g. Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan) as a traditional daily beverage of Tibetans. First, cook a tea brick into deep-red juice and then pour it into a buttered-tea barrel. Add some butter and salt into it and mix them by a “Kyaluo” (a wooden blender in the barrel). This is one of the main everyday foods of Tibetans, and is also an indispensable beverage to receive guests. There are formalities of drinking the buttered tea, e.g. the host will usually add tea while drinking; never finish drinking in one sup; if the guest doesn’t want any more than another half cup, he may empty the cup at one gulp after the host adds tea and before leaving. These are typical Tibetan customs and traditions.
Sichuan Tea House - Sichuan Tea House represents Chinese tea customs and tea-house culture. There were tea houses and tea booths as early as in the Tang dynasty in Sichuan. A typical Sichuan tea house is usually composed of copper teapots, tin cup supports, porcelain covered bowls, Bowl-shaped Compressed tea or Jasmine Tea, and especially tea masters. As the saying goes, “Sunny days are not so many as tea houses in Sichuan,” it is not merely a place for people to relax, rest and chat, but also a place, in old times, for problem discussing and solving, and disputes clearing up. Political and social functions of Sichuan tea -houses outweigh their other respects.
Tea Halls in South China - Halls in South China are very unique in China’s residential culture. Halls are the main common rooms in residential buildings, and tea is the absolutely necessary beverage for hospitality in case of catering guests. Halls were called guesting halls or tea halls because in old times halls were the places for dropping off sedan chair, for affording tea, for receiving guests and for sending-off. All through the ages, Chinese thinks much of kin, emphasizes the idea of clans, advocates hobnobbing with relatives, and takes four-generation or five-generation living together as the indication for continuous felicity, so halls were also the rooms for new-year’s oblation and big ceremonies of wedding or funeral which have close relations with tea. For the families residing in the same area for the reason of clan relations, halls were also the sites for discussing and handling affairs while drinking tea.
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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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