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Culture

What is Chinese tea culture?

It is an important part of traditional Chinese culture



China's tea culture has a long history of thousands of years. Tea in China is not only a beverage, but also a symbol of lifestyle and spiritual culture. Tea has had a profound influence on Chinese social life, etiquette, literature and art, and is considered an important part of the traditional culture of the Chinese nation.

What are the origins and historical development of China's tea culture?

According to legend, Emperor Shennong, or as he is often called in Chinese mythology, the divine farmer, discovered tea by accident when he noticed the pleasant, subtle aroma of tea leaves caught in his bowl by a gust of wind. This event took place around 2737 BC.

During the Tang Dynasty, the demand for tea products steadily increased. The drink became especially popular among scholars and intellectuals, who preferred to have long and lively discussions while drinking exquisite teas.

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During the Song dynasty, tea became a truly national drink of China. It was drunk by everyone from the nobility to the commoners. Social differences in tea culture consisted in the varieties of tea consumed, as well as the utensils used to savour tea.

Under the Yuan dynasty, there was some decline in tea culture in China. However, the next Ming dynasty set out to restore the tea tradition.

During the last Qing dynasty, Chinese tea entered the international market and became one of the country's ‘calling cards’ in the international arena.

Which Chinese teas are representative, what are their characteristics and differences?

In the Chinese tea tradition there are six main types of the drink: green, black, white, red tea, oolongs and yellow tea. At the same time, all varieties of Chinese tea cannot be limited only to these six types, as there are several thousand registered subspecies and varieties of Chinese tea.

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In my opinion, one of the most representative types of Chinese tea is black tea. This type of tea is very rare due to the fact that it grows only in a very limited area in Hunan province. This tea undergoes a long processing. At the same time, it not only does not lose its original useful properties, but also acquires new ones.

Oolongs are also very valuable. Many connoisseurs of Chinese tea prefer green or white teas.

What is the significance of the traditional ceremonial of the tea way and tea ware in China?

The significance of the traditional tea path ceremonial is to assist tea ceremony participants in their journey to wisdom and enlightenment. It is also believed that it is the tea ceremony that allows one to appreciate the flavour and aroma of tea.

Tea utensils play an important role in the tea ceremony. It is selected based on criteria such as: the type and variety of tea, the number of participants in the tea ceremony and the purpose of the tea ceremony.

What is the position and influence of Chinese tea culture in the daily life of the Chinese?

The position of Chinese tea culture in the daily life of Chinese people is extremely great. Tea is drunk several times every day. It is characteristic of people from different social groups and backgrounds.

The occasion for drinking tea can be either a major family event or simply to quench the thirst of a particular person. It is important to emphasise that in both cases the attitude towards tea will be very respectful, even a little reverent.

What impact does Chinese tea culture have internationally?

Today, Chinese tea is firmly established in both domestic and international markets. In addition to its important economic role, Chinese tea also contributes to the cultural and political dimension of the country, acting as the largest element of China's soft power.

The article was provided by Anastasia Simonova, specialist of the Expert Council on Culture of the Youth Parliament Expert Council at the State Duma of the Russian Federation.

Photo: IStock

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