Tea has been popular in Europe since the Roman Empire. Even during 17th century, businessmen from Great Britain could still earn great profits from tea trading. Chinese people love tea in a different way. Tea in China is not only a symbol of wealth or an ordinary drink for pleasure, but also a connection of Chinese culture and a drink that benefits health. Tea is as important to rice to some extent, and has been described as one of seven necessities in an individual’s daily life since the Song Dynasty.
Chinese people are proud of their 5000-year history starting from the age of Yan Di and Huang Di. Traditionally, Chinese people call themselves descendants of Yan Huang because Yan tribe and Huang tribe developed original Chinese civilization. In fact, both Yan and Huang recognized God Shennong as their ancestor, and Shennong is also recognized to be the inventor of Chinese traditional tea. Therefore, tea is a significant part of the Chinese history and Chinese culture, since tea is as old as the Chinese civilization.
A long period of socialization formed a rich Chinese culture and the unique Chinese culture gave a special tea culture, which contained tea ceremony, tea spirit, tea wares, tea paintings, tea science, and tea arts. Tea ceremony is a lifestyle with tea. Kind of￼ ￼like Yoga, tea makes people quiet and patient by actions like making tea, smelling tea, and drinking tea. Tea ceremony requires people to not only drink tea, but also taste tea. Through tasting tea, people are able to understand life philosophy such as “No sweet without sweat.” Tea spirit has eight standards, which are “Kang”, “Le”, “Gan”, “Xiang”, “He”, “Qing”, “Jing”, and “Mei.” “Kang” refers to being healthy. Drinking tea brings benefits to individual’s physical well being. “Le” refers to happiness. Drinking tea with family or friends certainly brings happiness. “Gan” means sweetness. People always seek tea to have good quality because they would like tea to bring sweetness after some bitter feelings. “Xiang” refers to good smell. “He” refers to harmony, which can be promoted by a peaceful and quiet environment. “Qing” means the tea should not have a heavy taste or smell. It is important because of the role of harmony. “Jing” is respect. When drinking tea, elder people would share the first cups because they are respected in Chinese Confucian culture. “Mei” is beauty, which can be the beauty of nature or human relations. Tea leaves are originally from the great nature and Mei reflects the beauty of our great nature, which offers us tea.
Human relations are reminded by tea because human relations are important parts of Confucianism. Tea ware is about the containers. Usually Chinese people make tea in a teapot, and a teapot can have significantly different values. Thus, tea ware represents individual’s taste, as well as his or her wealth. Tea paintings, tea science, and tea arts are all developed tremendously in the Tang dynasty, when the emperors in Tang dynasty favored tea culture a lot. Tea paintings are paintings reflect tea spirits. Tea science is majorly about tea planting as well as the methods to produce tea leaves with better quality. Tea arts is not just how to make tea itself. In order to become an art, the process of tea making should be beautiful and perfect. Nowadays, Chinese people like to call tea arts Kongfu Tea, which is like using kongfu to make tea. However, traditional tea arts have nothing to do with kongfu. With different purpose, tea arts can have different process. One common way of tea arts is having a leading tea maker sitting in the middle while others around him. The leading tea maker makes tea and others witness and learn from the process. The tea maker would use special techniques such as dancing while pouring water.
Besides tea culture, the influence of Chinese traditional medicine has also helped tea to become so popular. Because Chinese medicine highly relies on herbal medicine, tea becomes a useful way of making Chinese medicine. Modern days, many females are suffer because of obesity. Many advertisements on Chinese television are about diet tea, which is a kind of tea medicine that helps drain fat in people’s bodies. In fact, traditional Chinese people use tea as a way to solve illness that caused by irregular living habits. For example, Chinese medical science believes using chrysanthemum to make tea can deal with excessive internal heat. Another example would be drinking oolong tea to promote robust teeth health.
Although there are many other reasons causing huge demands on tea in China, the rich tea culture Chinese people have developed and relied on, and the benefit from Chinese medicine certainly make tea so popular in China.