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The Origins of Tea

1. What is tea plant?

The tea plant,an important cash crop in China , is an evergreen woody plant. Tea leaves are serrated and each consists of 7-10 pairs of main veins. The lateral veins stretch to two-thirds toward the leaf margin at angles of ≥ 45°, then curve up connecting the upper lateral veins, forming a net. This is a distinguishable characteristic of tea leaves. The color of the flowers is generally white and the seeds have hard shells. In plant taxonomy, tea plant belongs to section Thea,genus Camellia,family Theaceae, order Theales, class Magnoliopsida, division Magnoliophyta. In 1753, a Swedish botanist Carl von Linné nominated tea as Thea sinensis, meaning "tea plant originated from China". It was later renamed as Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze. The buds,leaves and young shoots are harvested(plucked) and processed into made teas.

2. What are the categories of tea plant?

According to the plant type,tea plants can be divited into three categories: arbor (obvious trunk;large and tall plant),semi- arbor (obvious base trunk; relatively large and tall plant), and shrub (without trunk;small plant).Based on leaf size,tea plants can divided into 4 types, including extremely large leaf (leaf area ≧ 60 c㎡),large leaf(40 c㎡≤leaf area<60 c㎡), medium lei (20c㎡≤leaf area<40c㎡), and small leaf (leaf area<20c㎡) leaf area = Length x Width x 0.7.

3. Where can the wild ancient tea plants be found in China?

Wild ancient tea plants can be found in many places in China. Some wild tea plants are found in Xishuang Banna and Pu'er in Yunnan Province. Furthermore, some wild tea plants with a height of 7-26 meters have been found in many places such as other places in Yunnan Province, Guizhou Province, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Sichuan Province, Chongqing Municipality, Hainan Province, and Hunan Province, etc.

4. Why is China the hometown of tea?

Abundant historical evidence and modern biological science have proved that China is the hometown of tea.

① The earliest historical record of tea are found in china.For example,the odes and Erhya,two ancient (600B.C.) Chinese books have records of tea. Relic of tea unearthed in Hanyang Mausoleum can be traced back to 2,100 years ago, which might be the earliest sample of made tea in the world. In 758 A.D., Lu Yu of the Tang Dynasty stated clearly in The Classic of Tea: "Tea, a brilliant plant in the south, is as tall as one chi, two chi or even dozens of chi; in the gorges and mountain areas of Bashan Mountains, there are tea plants with thick trunks which can only be encircled by two men with their arms joined together."

② There still exists many ancient wild tea plants in the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau in southwest China.

③ The word for tea in different languages around the world inherited the pronunciation from the Chinese word "cha".

Tea plants are originated from China and spread to the whole world.The Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau in Southwest China is believed to be the center of origin of tea plants. Because of the area's particularly favorable natural conditions suitable for the reproduction of tea plants, there still remains a large number of ancient wild large tea plants. The tea cultivars, tea planting techniques, tea processing, tea tasting art, and tea culture which are spread all over the world have their original marks from China. That's why we say China is the hometown of tea.

5. Why Southwest China is the original center of tea plants Is there any evidence

The Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau in China is the original center of the tea plant. The pieces of evidence are as follows. First, tea botanically belongs to the genus Camellia, family Theaceae. The Theaceae plants in the world are mostly concentrated in the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau in Southwest China. The Theaceae family has 23 genus and 380 species, of which 15 genus and 260 species have so far been found in Southwest China. Second, currently Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau boasts the largest number of ancient tea plants in the world, from which we can tell that tea plants originated in Southwest China. Third, paleogeography and paleoclimate show that as the result of dynamic changes in the earth's crust, Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau has once been exempted from the destruction of some types of plants because of the Quaternary Glaciation.

6. How do we divied the modern tea areas in China?

The division of modern tea area in china is based on the following factors:ecological and climatic conditions, history of production, type of tea plants,distributions of tea cultivars, and structure of made tea types.Thus,tea production in china is located in four major areas: South China Tea Area, Southwest China Tea Area, South Yangtze River Tea Area,and North Yangtze River Tea Area.

7. Which is the world's first monograph on tea science?

The first monograph on tea science in the history of China is The Classic of Tea written by Lu Yu. The first draft of this book was finished in the year 765 A.D., the First Year of Yongtai, during the reign of Daizong in the Tang Dynasty. The Classic of Tea is divided into three volumes and ten chapters with totally more than 7,000 words. Its contents include: Chapter 1 The Beginnings of Tea; Chapter 2 The Tools of Tea; Chapter 3 The Manufacture of Tea; Chapter 4 The Equipage; Chapter 5 The Brewing of Tea; Chapter 6 Drinking the Tea; Chapter 7 Tea Matters; Chapter 8 The Production of Tea; Chapter 9 Generalities; Chapter 10 Illustrations. It has systematically explained the name of tea, the Chinese character "tea", forms of tea plants,growing habits, growing conditions and key planting knowledge.The book has also introduced the physiological and pharmacological effects of tea, discussed tea picking, processing, brewing, drinking tea, tea wares, identified tea types and quality, collected the records of tea in ancient China, and the production areas and quality of tea in the Middle of the Tang Dynasty in China. It is the first encyclopedia on tea in Chinese history and is also the worlds first monograph on tea science. The Classic of Tea together with All about Tea written by American author William H. Ukers and Records of Health-Preserving through Drinking Tea written by Japanese religious master Yosai are titled the worlds three great classic works on tea.

8. Who is the "Sage of Tea" in ancient times?

Lu Yu (733-804 A.D.), whose courtesy name was Hongjian, was a native resident of Jingling in the Tang Dynasty (present-day Tianmen, Hubei Province). He was an abandoned baby and was later fostered by Zen Master Zhiji. He became a little monk but was reluctant to learn Buddhism; instead, he loved tea. During the time of An Lushan Rebellion, Lu Yu was exiled to Huzhou and lived in seclusion in Tiaoxi. In the period of several decades, he visited tea areas to study tea, during which he personally practiced everything related to tea and gained experiences from his practices, and finally he finished and published the worlds first monograph on tea, The Classic of Tea, in 780 A.D., the first year of Jianzhong, during the reign of Dezong in the Tang Dynasty. The publishing of this monograph has vigorously promoted the production of tea and the spread of tea culture, thus Lu Yu is titled as the "Sage of tea"

9. What different stages have tea-drinking in China gone through

Tea-drinking has experienced thousands of year's history in china Different ways of brewing and drinking were adopted for different types of tea in different historical periods.Generally speaking, by the Tang Dynasty tea was brewed in rough way which brew tea together with ginger, salt and others, and others , and " take them all " which is known as "bitter congee" or "soup-likc drink". In the Tang Dynasty, people roasted and ground the tea cake and then boiled it,the process of which was called "boiling the tea" (zhucha) or "decocting the tea" (jiancha). Cake-shaped tea was remained in the Song Dynasty. Just as in the Tang Dynasty, people ground the tea cake into a paste and added them into the tea ware to "prepare the paste", and then added boiling water in a progressive manner and whipped and foamed the tea with a whisk. This is known as "preparing the tea" (diancha). After the Ming Dynasty, people drink mostly loose tea and make tea by brewing instead, which is to place tea in a gaiwan or teapot and brew with boiling water. This is known as"gather and brew" (cuopao) and has been kept until today.

10. When did the green tea first appear in China?

The history of making green tea in China can be traced back to the time prior to the Tang Dynasty. The cake tea mentioned in The classic written by Lu Yu is actually the ancient steamed green tea. It took a long time for the processing techniques of the green tea to develop from sun-drying to boiling, frying and baking, and then producing premium famous teas in different forms including blade, powder needle, eyebrow, screw, and bead.

11. When did the black tea first appear in China?

The processing of black tea originated in China and has a history of more than 400 years.According to literature, the word "black tea" first appeared in the book Capable of Doing All Sorts of Vulgar Things (15th-16th Century) written by Liu Ji in the Ming Dynasty. The earliest black tea, Souchong black tea, was invented in Tongmuguan in Chong'an County (present-day Wuyishan City), Fujian Province. Thus, Chong'an County is titled the origin of the black tea. In 1610, the Lapsang Souchong black tea produced in Wuyi Mountains was first shipped to the Netherlands by sea, and then later to the United Kingdom, France and Germany successively.

12. When did the white tea first appear in China?

In ancient literature works of China, there are many records about white tea. For example, in the Song Dynasty, Song Zi'an, recorded in Records of Trying Tea in Dongxi: "The tea leaf of white tea is like a paper. The folks regarded the white tea as the best amongst all teas, and it was the Number One in the Tea Competition." However, the so-called white tea is only a special variety of tea tree, rather than a different type of made tea with different processing methods. The "white tea" later was the result of both a different variety and different processing methods. In 1795, the tea growers in Fuding City, Fujian Province picked the tea buds of Fuding Dabaicha, and processed the tea buds into "Silver needles "(tea name). In 1875, several varieties of tea plants for example, Fuding white tea and Zhenghe white tea, with plenty of white hair were found in Fujian Province. Since 1885, the tender buds of these varieties were processed into ."Pekoe silver needles" In 1922, the tender tips with one bud and two leaves were processed into "white peony" (tea name).

13. When did the dark tea first appear in China?

The phrase "dark tea" first appeared in the history of Ming Dynasty Records of food and Goods written in 1524, the Third Year of Jiajing in the Ming Dynasty: "Due to the poor quality of the commercial tea, the government collects the dark tea. The production of the land is limited, therefore the tea produced is labeled the second-class of medium-high quality, with a thin bamboo strip ironed with a brand and then is titled " commercial tea ",. Each ten jin (1/2 kilograms) of dark tea is steamed and sun-dried, and then labeled with a thin bamboo strip. The dark tea is then sent to the Tea Bureau for the governmental officials and merchants; the tea given to officials are used to trade for horses, and the other portions to merchants are commercial teas used for sales " At that time, Anhua dark tea has been famous all over the country, and thus has gradually evolved from "privately-owned tea"into "official tea" in order to trade for horses.

14. When did the Oolong tea first appear in China?

The Oolong Tea is also called cyan tea. The Oolong tea was created around 1725 (during the reign of Emperor Yongzheng in the Qing Dynasty). Records of Anxi County has recorded that: "Anxi people have first created the processing method of the Oolong tea in the Third Year of Yongzheng. And the Oolong tea was later introduced to the northern Fujian Province, Guangdong Province and Taiwan Province." According to other historical data, in 1862, Fuzhou established teahouses that sold Oolong tea. In 1866, Taiwan Oolong tea started to be sold overseas."

15. When did the yellow tea first appear in China?

Record of the yellow tea in history is taken as the characteristics of tea plants. The color of the growing bud and leaves looks yellow when the tea plants grow up. The most famous yellow teas in the Tang Dynasty were Shouzhou yellow tea from Anhui Province and Mengding yellow tea from Sichuan Province. These teas got such names because of their natural yellow color of the bud. In the Ming Dynasty, with the introduction of the technology of frying green tea in the Ming Dynasty,the heaping and smothering technology came into being. In the process of frying green tea after pan-firing and rolling,when the drying of tea is too late or left unfinished, the color of the tea turns yellow, while the taste becomes more mellow and the tea is conducive to storage. For example, Huangdacha was created during the reign of Rongqing in the Ming Dynasty and has a history of over 400 years.

16. When did the scented tea first appear in China?

China has a history of over 1,000 years in making the scented tea. In the Song Dynasty (after 960 A.D.),the "Longfeng Tea Cake" was added with a spice of "borneol" cmol used to be paid as tribute to the emperors. But this was no true scented tea. Shi Yue, a poet in the Song Dynasty, wrote in his poem named Roam in the Moonlight (Jasmine): "The sweet taste is produced by quick baking in spring; it embodies the charm of nature as the aroma of sandalwood incense lingers." However, it is still unknown whether the tea was involved in baking. By the Yuan Dynasty, a scholar called Ni Yunlin left a record of lotus-scented tea. Later, it was universal to add "treasured jasmine and other aromatic herbs" into tea. The book Recipe of Tea (1539) compiled by Qian Chunnian in the Ming Dynasty has recorded the making methods of multiple teas, enumerating orange tea and lotus tea, and also remarked that osmanthus, jasmine, rose, orchid, orange blossom, cape jasmine, costustoot, plum, etc. can all be made into tea.

17. What are the "Three Teas of the Bai People"?

The first is a bitter tea, i.e., "Thunderous tea". Put the green tea into the earthware jar and bake with a gentle fire, and chum and shake the tea; when the tea give out a special aroma, brew it with boiled water; it will give a melodious sound. This tea is slightly bitter and gives a refreshing feeling after drinking.

The second tea is a sweet tea, featuring brown sugar and rushan as the main ingredients. Rushan, a specialty food of Bai people, is a dairy product. The making method is: roast the rushan till it is dry, mash it, and add brown sugar into it; add ingredients including sliced walnuts, sesame and popcorn; pour tea into the ingredients, thus the tea is made. This tea tastes sweet and full-bodied, and has an efficacy of nourishing our body.

The third tea is made from ginger, pepper, ground cinnamon and ground pinecone, and added with honey and tea. It tastes pungent and spicy with an intense taste, leaving tea drinkers with a long aftertaste. "Pungent and spicy tastes" are used by Bai people to express the meaning of "affinity"thus the "Three Teas of the Bai People" carries the meaning of "intimate friends'', which is a ritual for Bai people to receive distinguished guests.

18. What is the buttered tea?

"Pounding" buttered tea is a way of drinking tea daily for Tibetan people. The ingredients of buttered tea include tea, butter and salt, etc. The tea are mainly Fu tea and brick tea. Break the tea bricks into crushes before brewing, and extract butter from Yak milk or goat milk and make butter into blocks. When making buttered tea, first boil the water in the pot, then add the brick tea; stew the tea into a thick soup,and then filter the tea residues. Pour the tea soup into a special jar for later use anytime. When "pounding" buttered tea, first put the butter and other ingredients into a tube, then pour the tea soup into it, and put a cover onto the tube. Hold a wood pestle that sticks out of the tube cover, pound up and down for dozens of times until the tea soup blends with the butter adequately, i.e., the tea is completely mixed with milk, then we have the aromatic buttered tea.

19. Who deserves the title of "Sage of Tea in Contemporary China"

Professor Wu Juenong (1897-1989), a native of Shangyu, Zhejiang Province, had been determined to fight for the rejuvenation of China's agriculture in his youth and demonstrated deep emotions for the tea industry. He knew that China had a long history of tea industry and had enjoyed a worldwide reputation in terms of the tea industry, which later declined and remained sluggish for a long time because of political corruption, backward productivity, wasted tea plantation and poor and unstable living, and thus the world's tea market had been taken up by India and Sri Lanka. Therefore, he decided to devote himself to the tea industry of China. He once visited Japan to learn modernized tea technologies.After he finished schooling,he started to run about for the of Rejuvenating China's tea industry. He cooperated with his friends in establishing the Tea Export Inspection Institution, formulating the Plan of Rejuvenating China's tea industry, establishing the first experiment farm and the first tea research institute of China, as well as the country's first department of tea science at Fudan University. Also, he traveled to countries including India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Japan, the U.K. and Russia in order to learn from the most advanced experience from these, countries. He worked hard to explore the ambitious plans for rejuvenating China's tea industry. He left his footprints all over China for the tea industry. He has contributed a great deal to the tea, thus he is reputed as the "Sage of Tea in Contemporary" by Lu Dingyi, one of the former state leaders of China.

20. What are the contents of the "Chinese Morals of Tea" advocated by Mr. Zhuang Wanfang, a famous tea science scholar?

Professor Zhuang Wanfang has put forth the proposition of "Chinese Morals of Tea" in March 1989, the contents of which are "Honesty, Beauty, Harmony and Respect". According to the interpretation of Mr. Zhuang,"Honesty" stands for "like a cup of clean and clear tea, one must promote being honest, clean-fingered and frugal and cultivate morality; toast to your guests with tea and drink tea in place of liquor". "Beauty" stands for "like a cup of clean and clear tea, one shall mainly taste and appreciate it, share the aromatic tea with others, smell the aroma of the tea together with others, and communicate with close friends over a cup of tea while enjoying the happiness of longevity". "Harmony" stands for "Like a cup of clean and clear tea, one should attach importance to morality and endow tea with a meaning of gift-giving, get along with others well in good faith and create good interpersonal relationship" . "Respect" stands for "like a cup of clean and clear tea, one is supposed to respect others and love people, take pleasure in helping others, and ensure that the tea ware is purified and the water is of good source".