Happy Chinese New Year
Today is the Chinese New Year. Welcome to the year of the Ox. China today is a major world power and is still one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of tea. Here at UKVending we thought the dawning of the New Chinese Year would be a good time to look at some interesting facts about China and tea.
Tea Has a 3,000-Year History in China
China is the homeland of tea. Wild tea trees, from over 3,000 years ago, where tea was once farmed, and extant cultivated tea areas dating back to 800 years ago, can still be found in Southwest China.
Simple tea-processing emerged between 221 BC and 8 AD. Tea leaves were pressed into balls, dried, and stored. People later crushed the balls and mixed them with herbs, such as green onion and ginger, before boiling them. From then onwards, tea became a beverage.
Tea was enjoyed by Han Dynasty emperors pre 220 AD.
According to the legend, some Chinese once people believed tea was first discovered by Shennong (the Divine Farmer c.2500 BC) who was one of the ancestors of Chinese people.
Tea is the Second Most Consumed Beverage in China, only beaten by simple water.
Tea Was First Used as Medicine
Before the 8th century BC, tea in China was primarily used as a medicine. Ancient Chinese people often boiled fresh tea leaves and drank the infusion. They believed that tea reduced “heat” and improved eyesight.
Tea is China’s Oldest Exported Product
China was the first and still is the largest exporter of tea. Near the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD), British merchants set up trading posts in Xiamen, Fujian Province and first started to trade in Chinese tea.
In Mandarin Chinese, “tea” is “cha“. The only region where it wasn’t called it cha was Fujian Province. What the people of Xiamen called tay, the British spelled as “tea”.
The term “tea” started spreading later than “cha” but, with the English language, travelled much further. Nowadays, the term “cha” is still used in Japan.
The Longer Some Teas Are Stored the More Expensive They Are
There’s a saying among Chinese tea-lovers: a brick of good Pu’er tea is more valuable than a gram of gold. Some regard tea as an investment commodity rather than just something to put in a cup to drink.
Over the past decade, some high-end teas, especially those that improve with age have become as collectible in China as the rarest vintage wines.
For example, Pu’er and white tea are highly praised for their suitability for long-term storage – the longer they are stored, the more valuable they become.
But not all tea is suitable for collecting, since some types of tea including green tea, deteriorate with age.
Serving Tea to Elders or Guests Is a Sign of Respect
In traditional Chinese culture, serving tea to a guest is a sign of respect. A younger person can show respect and gratitude to an older person by offering a cup of tea..
Another special occasion when tea is served is a traditional Chinese wedding. In a traditional Chinese marriage ceremony, both the bride and groom kneel before their parents and serve them tea. This is a way of expressing gratitude to their parents for raising them.
Chinese People Believe Tea is Good for Weight Loss
Tea is said to provide a lot of health benefits and is believed to be a healthy beverage by Chinese people. People believe that drinking tea every day could decrease the risk of many diseases.
The most common belief is that it contributes to slimming, although there is no conclusive evidence that green tea aids weight loss or has any beneficial health effects.