Chinese New Year is the most celebrated traditional holiday in the Chinese culture. This year they are celebrating The Year of the Tiger. It seems only fitting to acknowledge the importance of China’s role in bringing tea to the rest of the world.
China has made many contributions to world culture. One of their greatest and most important has been tea. Next to water, tea is the world’s second most consumed beverage. The Chinese were the first to drink the leaves of the Camellia sinensis steeped in water.
There is some evidence that it may have first been consumed of health. Early manuals on Traditional Chinese Medicine show that tea was a popular healing herb. It’s clear that it was also drunk for pleasure. This can be seen both in manuscripts and artwork from China.
It wasn’t until centuries later that the Europeans “discovered” tea in China. Now it’s consumed all over the world in many ways and many cultures. Worldwide, sharing tea is recognized as a way of bringing people together whether it’s friends at tea in someone’s home or a meeting of tribal leaders in Afghanistan. This we owe to China, who first brought social importance to tea.
In celebration of Chinese New Year and their part in the history and culture of tea, it’s a good day to drink Chinese tea. Chinese tea comes in many varieties; black, oolong, green, white, and pu-erh. The list seems almost endless. However, the Chinese Tea Culture site lists the “Ten Famous Chinese Teas” in order of most to least famous of the ten. You could choose one or two of them to try if you’re new to Chinese tea. Below see the teas organized by tea color to give you an idea of which you might like to try.. The Chinese name if follow by the English translation.
Red (what we call black tea)
Da Hong Pao—Big Red Robe
Long Jing—Dragon Well
Bi Luo Chun—Green Snail Spring
Huangshan Mao Feng—Yellow Mountain Fur Peak
Liu An Gua Pian—Liu An Melon Seed
Xin Yang Mao Jian—Xin Yang Hairy Tip
Tai Ping Hou Kui—Monkey King
Yellow (but sold as white tea in the U.S.)
Junshan Yinzhen—Silver Needles
The Chinese Tea Culture site does not state how they know that these are the Ten Famous Chinese Teas. Nevertheless, it seems that it should be relatively accurate. If you have another opinion, it would be great to read it. You can leave your opinion in the comment box.
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