Chinese Tea History Over Various Dynasties

China is the hometown of the tea. After long traveling in the history, now tea has spread all over the world and become one of the top 3 non-alcoholic beverages in the world. As the original place of tea, every Chinese feels proud.

Today, editor will share with you the brief history of the Chinese tea. As a tea love Chinese, you only dare to say understand Chinese tea after knowing these.


  • The development of tea culture

For Chinese, tea is not just a beverage. It is more a spiritual symbol for quiet and calm. After thousands of years, tea has intertwined in many aspects of the life of Chinese.

  1. Shennong era: 5,000 years ago, drink the boiled water with raw leaves. Tea leaves were used as medicine.
  2. Western Zhou, Eastern Zhou: 3,000 years ago, people started to plant tea tree and used it as food.
  3. Qing Dynasty: 2,300 years ago, tasting tea, boiling tea, cooking tea were started.
  4. Han Dynasty:

(Western Han) 2,000 years ago, started to commercialize, Chengdu became the earliest distribution center for tea

(Eastern Han) 1, 500 years ago, started to produce tea cake for the convenience of the transportation.

  1. Tang Dynasty: 1,200 years ago, under the influence the economy and culture in Tang Dynasty, and the advocating of the “Tea Bible” by Lu Yu, drinking tea was popular in Tang Dynasty.
  2. Song Dynasty: 1,000 years, the technique of brewing tea was improved, paying more attention to the quality of the water. Tea competition became a trendy
  3. Yuan Dynasty: 700 years ago, unpacked tea emerged. Tea cakes were used by royalty. Tea brewing appeared, which was using boiled water to brew tea directly. It built the foundation for the popularity of loose tea in Ming Dynasty.
  4. Ming Dynasty: 600 years ago. Zhu Yuanzhang abandoned tea cake and promoted the loose tea. The techniques for yellow tea, dark tea and flowered tea were formed.
  5. Qing Dynasty: 300 years ago, Chinese tea became popular among the world, which dominated the world. During that time, China was the only exporter of the tea. The techniques were mainly roasting and frying, producing Oolong tea, black tea, dark tea, flower tea, green tea, and white tea.
  6. Modern days:
    1. 1846 – 1886 – the prosperous of Chinese tea. The size of the tea garden was expanding, the amount of tea produced was increasing quickly, strongly encouraged the development of trading.
    2. 1886 – 1947 – the declining of the Chinese tea, in terms of politics, economy, competition on the international tea market
    3. 1950 – 1988 – the recovery of Chinese tea production, government support and emphasize had put a lot of effort in building new tea garden, improving new variety, promoting the scientifically way of planting, and walking towards the stable development of tea economy. This help the production of tea ranked the 2nd in the world.


  • Three stages of the utility of the tea

The drinking tea of the Chinese ancestors have been through four processes: eating raw tea as medicine, cooked tea as food, boiling the tea as drink, brewing tea. The initial way ancestors only consumed the tea as chewing it raw. Late, boiling the water with tea and drinking it, as the way people make soup nowadays. Back then, tea was either drank as soup, or ate as vegetables.

  1. Medical purpose: the discovery and utilization of the tea can be traced back to the Paleolithic. The first medicine book “The Classical Herbal Medicine” has the “Shen Nong tried hundreds of herbals”, met 72 poisons every day, use tea as detoxification. “Tea can used as medicine, chewing it as raw, it can clear the heat inside, used outside as detoxification.
  2. Food purpose: from chewing raw to boiling. Tea can be cooked with rice to make “tea porridge”, or boiled and added sauce. The Jinuo People in Yunan still have the “cold mixed tea”.
  3. Drinking purpose: drinking came from eating. From eating to drinking is out of the pursuit of the original flavor of tea. Modern days, the custom of eating tea is still preserved. Some people add tea into the milk to drink. The minority groups still have Lei Tea and Dayou Tea.


  • The shifting of tea drinking methods
  1. Tang Dynasty – Tea Boiling Method

Before boiling the tea, crushing the tea leaves first, boiling the water and then adding the sauce. Pouring the tea powder into the pot. When you drink it, you eat all the tea residue with the tea, this is what called “eating tea”.

People in Tang Dynasty like to add spices into the tea, such as salt, green onion, ginger, or others. Lu Yu was strongly against this way of boiling tea. The most you can add is a little bit salt. Late, people started to promote the original flavor of the tea, laid the foundation of the tea ceremony.

  1. Song Dynasty – whisked tea

The tea drinking in the Song Dynasty has rose to the aesthetic level to an extreme. They have put many decoration on the tea cake, which is very delicate and called “Dragon and phoenix tea cake”.

First, you grind the tea cake into small powder, brewing it with boiled water. In order to make the tea powder mixed well with water, you use the chasen to hit it fast, until a large amount of white tea fam. The green tea ceremony of Japan is originated from this.

  1. Ming Dynasty – tea brewing method

During the Ming Dynasty, the tea making and drinking are further simplified. Zhu Yuanzhang has promoted the loose tea widely and cause the differentiation of tea variety. Before, there was only green tea, late there were other tea varieties appeared.

People in the Ming Dynasty think this way of drink was “simple, and fun, which you can enjoy the true flavor of tea completely.” This tea brewing method is continued till now. There is nothing added in the tea. You are drinking the original, and true flavor of the tea. Also, the tea wares used and methods are simplified largely, which is beneficial for the spreading of the tea culture.