Facts You Need to Know About Chinese Tea
Origin of Tea:
Tea originated in China. The earliest records about tea appear in the first Chinese pharmacological treatise, the "Shennong Ben Cao Jing," which states: "Shennong tasted hundreds of herbs, encountered seventy-two poisons, and found tea to counteract them."
The history of tea consumption among the Chinese people can be traced back to the Qin Dynasty, as noted by Gu Yanwu in his "Ri Zhi Lu": "It was only after the Qin people took Shu that the custom of drinking tea began."
The Chadao and Chayi:
The Chadao (Way of Tea) is a comprehensive cultural phenomenon that encompasses not only the art of brewing and drinking tea but also a lifestyle etiquette mediated by tea. In Chinese culture, the Chadao is deeply regarded as a way of cultivating one's character and nurturing one's inner self.
The content of Chayi (Tea Art) includes aspects such as selecting tea leaves, choosing water, tea brewing techniques, the art of tea utensils, and creating a suitable environment. Chayi not only involves the appreciation of tea tasting techniques and artistic operational methods but also encompasses the appreciation of the pleasant environment for tea drinking.
The Chadao and Chayi emerged during the Jin and Sui Dynasties before the Tang Dynasty, and they have continued to evolve and spread in later generations.
The Six Major Types of Chinese Tea:
China boasts a diverse array of loose leaf tea, which can be categorized into six major types based on oxidation levels and production techniques. These are loose leaf green tea, loose leaf yellow tea, loose leaf white tea, loose leaf blakc tea, loose leaf oolong tea, and loose leaf dark tea. Each type of tea possesses its unique charm and value. Initially, it is recommended to explore the multitude of Chinese teas through the use of a tea sampler.
Apart from loose leaf green tea, the other major types undergo a certain degree of oxidation during the production process.
The oxidation levels of the six major teas, from low to high, are as follows: loose leaf green tea, loose leaf white tea, loose leaf yellow tea, loose leaf oolong tea, loose leaf black tea, and loose leaf dark tea. Correspondingly, as the oxidation level increases, the tea liquor of each type also undergoes a shift from light to dark.
Classic Tea Sampler: A Great Beginning
If you want to embark on your journey into Chinese tea, it's best to start with some easily approachable tea categories and some of the most classic varieties. iTeaworld's Classic Tea Sampler is an excellent starting point, providing a convenient and accessible way to experience the flavors of the best loose leaf tea.
Black Tea Part:
The rich and robust taste of black tea is familiar to most people. Starting with Chinese black tea is a foolproof choice. If you enjoy English breakfast tea or Indian black tea, then you might want to try Yunnan Black Tea and Yingde Black Tea, two varieties of Chinese black tea that are sure to leave a lasting impression.
If you feel inclined to explore some more unique black teas, the Souchong Black Tea and Wild Souchong Black Tea in the iTeaworld Classic Tea Sampler are well worth trying. Wild Souchong Black Tea stands out with its smoky characteristics, providing a glimpse into the charm of the earliest black teas in the world. Souchong black tea retains the core characteristics of the world's earliest black tea but omits the smoking process, resulting in a sweeter taste with a distinct floral aroma.
Oolong Tea Part:
When it comes to Chinese oolong tea, the names TieGuanyin and Da Hong Pao are undoubtedly familiar to you. As a starting point for exploring oolong tea, these two renowned Chinese oolong teas are a must-try. While TieGuanyin and Da Hong Pao are both famous and produced in Fujian Province, China, their styles are quite different. Understanding TieGuanyin and Da Hong Pao will lay the foundation for your knowledge of Chinese oolong tea.
Oolong tea is known for its rich aroma, and two teas, Fenghuang Dancong and Minnan Shuixian, exemplify this well. Fenghuang Dancong is renowned for its fragrance, with Honey Orchid Fenghuang Dancong being well-balanced in all aspects of aroma, making it suitable for beginners. Additionally, Minnan Shuixian is a highly aromatic oolong tea, particularly favored by women.
There are many fascinating aspects to explore about Chinese black tea and oolong tea. The following will share some insights in this regard, adding more enjoyment to your tea-tasting journey.
The earliest Black Tea originated in China
Origin of Black Tea:
It is generally believed that black tea originated in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties, making it a history of several hundred years.
There is a legend about the birth of black tea:
During the turbulent times of the late Ming and early Qing dynasties, a Jiangxi military force passed through Tongmu Village and occupied a tea factory. The soldiers slept on freshly picked tea leaves. After the army left, the tea farmers discovered that the color of the tea leaves had turned red. To salvage their losses, the tea farmers kneaded the tea leaves, dried them with locally abundant pine wood, specifically from the Pinus massoniana. The dried tea leaves became glossy black, exuding a rich pine fragrance when brewed.
Characteristics of Black Tea:
Loose leaf black tea belongs to fully oxidized tea. The quality characteristics of loose leaf black tea can be summarized as "red liquor, red leaves, with high fragrance and a sweet taste."
The tea leaves of loose leaf black tea are glossy black, and the infusion has an orange-yellow or orange-red color. The leaf base shows a reddish-brown hue, generally presenting floral and fruity aromas with a rich and sweet taste, leaving a pleasant aftertaste.
Sweetness in Black Tea:
Black tea emphasizes sweetness, but it's not just about sweetness. If someone says that the sweeter the black tea, the better, this statement is too one-sided.
High-quality black tea should be clean, sweet, and refreshing, avoiding excessive sweetness. Its sweetness primarily comes from the presence of theanine and sugar compounds in the tea leaves. Upon tasting, it resembles consuming flower nectar crafted from fresh petals or the abundant juice of just-picked fruits, delivering a mouthful of freshness and sweetness.
Of course, if black tea is found to be excessively sweet to the point of cloying, it is undoubtedly an abnormal situation. Those who truly understand black tea do not assess its quality solely based on sweetness.
Oolong Tea: Renowned for its Aroma
The Key Feature of Oolong Tea Is Its High Aroma:
The high aroma characteristic of oolong tea is the result of various factors. On one hand, oolong tea is often made from fresh leaves of tea trees that possess high aroma qualities.
On the other hand, the unique process of oolong tea, known as the "making green" process, not only creates green leaves with red edges but also facilitates the smooth drainage of water within the tea leaves and the formation of the tea's aroma. Thus, oolong tea exhibits a distinctive feature of high aroma, with an unforgettable fragrance filling the room when brewed with boiling water.
Oolong Tea is Semi-Oxidized:
The term "semi-oxidized" in oolong tea refers to the partial oxidation of tea polyphenols in the fresh leaves during the oolong tea production process. The specific oxidation ratio is determined by the core production process, "making green," of oolong tea.
The degree of oxidation varies significantly among oolong teas from different regions and varieties. For example, TieGuanyin has an oxidation level of around 30%, almost resembling green tea, while Dongfang Meiren can reach up to 70%, leaning towards black tea. The degree of oxidation in oolong tea cannot be solely determined by observing the color of the infusion, as the roasting process in oolong tea has a significant impact on the color.
Oolong Tea is the Most Complex among the Six Tea Categories:
Oolong tea emphasizes aroma, flavor, and aftertaste, showcasing the characteristics of tea-making techniques, the variety of raw materials, and the environment of the tea gardens. Understanding any dimension requires in-depth exploration and study in the production areas and tea factories.
The formation of aroma and flavor in oolong tea involves a complex process, where natural substances undergo intricate transformations under human influence.
Chinese tea culture is profound, and in recent years, more people have been eager to explore it.
We hope that iTeaworld's Classic Tea Sampler serves as a delightful starting point for your journey into exploring Chinese tea, making it easy for you to discover the beauty of more Chinese teas.