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ART & LEISURE: The Story of the Tea
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The Story of Tea
By Nadia N.

BT 201802 Art 10      中国自古就有饮茶品茗的文化习俗,对于茶的起源也是众说纷纭。其中一种说法认为中国茶源自神农。传说神农上山采药,边采边尝,不知不觉中已尝了近72种中草药。草药中的毒性令他觉得口干舌燥,于是便坐在树下休息,正在这时,几片树叶飘落在他面前,凭着往常的习惯,他又捡起树叶放入口中尝试,可是令他惊奇的是,过了一会儿神农开始觉得身体舒畅起来,口也不渴了,而口中的树叶还留给他了一口的清香。这便是茶叶发现的传说。根据记载,茶叶在中国最早是作为药物使用的,后来才发展成为饮料。

      正所谓 “发乎于神农,闻于鲁周公,兴于唐而盛于宋”,我国茶叶和茶文化有着漫长的发展历史,贯穿于中华民族5000年文明的发展进程中。唐代开元年间,北方佛教禅宗兴起,倡导饮茶,饮茶之风由南方向北方发展。宋元时期,茶区继续扩大,种茶、制茶、点茶技艺精进。


      中国茶与西方的葡萄酒一样,不同的地区有不同的品种,其中一些茶相当昂贵。但即使昂贵,人们依然对其趋之若鹜,毕竟茶在中国文化中与健康有着密不可分的关系。大家普遍认为无论是红茶、绿茶还是白茶,对健康都有所帮助。每日饮茶还可以为人体排毒、抗氧化。捧着本期杂志的读者此时不妨泡上一壶茶,一边品茗,一遍继续徜徉在愉快的阅读体验中吧。

BT 201802 Art 01Do you start your day with a cup of strong coffee to feel fresh and energetic? In China they prefer another “magic” drink - Chinese tea. Its popularity doesn't seem to decrease with years past, but seems to grow more and more. In any season almost every Chinese person carries a cup with a hot drink and, if it isn’t hot water, it is Chinese tea. Such dedication to one beverage for centuries is explained by countless health benefits that this drink has and, many people believe Chinese tea is one of the keys to longevity.
 

History of Chinese tea begins with emperor Shennong who belonged to the most ancient era of Chinese history. As the legend goes, he was the person who presented China with its beloved beverage. Emperor and his court were taking a stroll in the gardens near the palace, and when they stopped to boil some water to drink, leaves from the bush fell into it. The water changed colour and Emperor decided to try it out of curiosity. He found the drink tasty and refreshing and so the history of tea began in 2737BC. Later on, during the Zhou Dynasty, tea was produce the same way that Shennong discovered it - a whole leaf was placed in a cup of hot water. Of course, this version of tea tasted different than now, as this technique didn’t allow the flavour to “open up”. Then, during the Han Dynasty, teas were available only for the nobles and, of course, the emperor and his family.
 

Almost all varieties of tea were brought from Sichuan and Yunnan provinces straight to the capital for the emperor’s benefit. History of tea changed with coming of Tang Dynasty. In 618-907 AD tea became available for every Chinese person and became a social drink - just like today, it was customary to drink tea among friends and family members. Also, this period of time is known for placing tea as “one of essentials of life” in China. As for the tea making technique, it changed dramatically during Tang Dynasty - instead of using fresh leaves and pressing them, tea leaves were roasted and used as tea afterwards.

UntitledWhile bags with suspicious filling with different tastes like berries or fruit are considered to be a real tea elsewhere than in China, teas in Middle Kingdom are just like wine in Western world - different areas produce different types of tea and some of them can be quite expensive, rare and exquisite.

BT 201802 Art 05Green tea was the most accessible and popular tea in China for thousands of years. It is made from tea plant shoots. It is produced mainly in Zhejiang, Fujian and Jiangxi provinces. The most famous green tea is West Lake Dragon Well Tea.

BT 201802 Art 06Yellow tea was traditionally served to the Emperor. The reason for that is that yellow was the colour of Emperor for centuries and no one else was ever allowed to wear it. Yellow tea now is, of course, accessible for everyone and it has a very distinctive taste and aroma – it is a mixture of green and white tea. Junshan Yinzhen from Henan province is the country’s most popular Yellow tea producer.

BT 201802 Art 07Blue tea, beauty enhancer or Oolong tea is also one of the most beloved varieties of tea in China. It is very rich and the special taste nicely combines with its very useful side effect: Oolong tea is believed to be very effective in weight reduction.

BT 201802 Art 09While Chinese tea is usually associated with Green tea, Black tea, in fact, ranks second for popularity in China. It has a way stronger flavour that it’s green equivalent and, just as any other black tea, is very rich on caffeine and boosts energy.

BT 201802 Art 08White tea got its name from the belief that long ago poor people were offering plain boiled water to their guests when they didn’t have any tea. However, mild and delicate White tea is no simple water. It helps in digestion and has a mild calming effect. The most popular White teas are Silver Needle and Peony White tea.

2The most exquisite tea in China is, of course, Pu’er. Firstly, it is quite complicated to produce - Pu’er tea is made from a large-leaf variety of a plant growing in a defined area, which is then processed into a brick tea using a specific technology. A type of tea can be called Pu’er only if it is produced in Yunnan's 639 towns in 11 prefectures and cities, including Pu'er and Dali.
 

Nowadays people drink tea everywhere - at home, in the office, even on a bus, but traditionally tea consumption is a very special process. Firstly, tasting tea is a very slow procedure when a person should pay his undivided attention to the “dancing” of the leaves in a cup, to the aroma, taste and aftertaste. Also, between the sips one should always pay attention to the surrounding environment, enjoy music, conversation on a high topic or simply silence. Then, it is very important to look inside yourself and give a thought to morality and spiritual values while drinking tea. So, it is safe to say that drinking tea in a traditional way is a sort of meditation.
 

In everyday life, Chinese tea can play a very important role - basically every sort of Chinese tea from white to black has some kind of positive effect on health. For example, green tea has a strong detoxifying and moisturizing effect which is most useful during polluted and dry winters, while yellow or black tea can rejeuvenate you with energy.


It might be difficult to purchase a high quality Chinese tea anywhere else except for China, so it is time to seize the opportunity and start drinking this magic beverage.

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