Luna Talk | Chinese Tea Culture (中国茶文化)

February 15, 2021 字数 1078 3 min


演讲结束之后,我给公司的同事们分享了西湖龙井绿茶,大家都很喜欢 :)

网上的英文资料比较少,我看了央视的纪录片:《茶:一片树叶的故事》 以及《影响世界的中国植物》第三集——茶,准备演讲的过程中我也学到了很多以前不了解的知识。


You can download the slides from here

0. Introduction

Good morning everyone, welcome to my Monday Huddle, I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and most importantly, happy Chinese New Year! I wish everyone to be healthy, wealthy and prosperous in the Year of Golden Ox!

Today I’m going to talk about something that comes from China, it is a gift from nature and one of the Top 3 consumed drink in the world. More than 60 countries are growing this plant and more than 3 billion people’s life is related to it.

Its Chinese name is 茶(cha) and its English name is Tea.

1. Brief History of Tea

China was the first country to export tea to Europe, based on Wikipedia, the tea plant’s official name is Camellia Sinensis, and Sinensis is a Latin word, means “From China”.

China has a long history of growing, producing, drinking and trading tea. Tea plants are native to East Asia, and the Chinese tea culture can be traced back to almost 2000 years ago. About 1000 years ago, tea has become one of the 7 necessities for Chinese people to begin a day with, along with “Firewood, rice, oil, salt, sauce, vinegar and tea”.

2. Tea Classifications

China is the home of tea and there’re 6 different types of tea, the major difference is the Fermentation Level. As you can see in this diagram, Green Tea has the lowest fermentation level, while Dark tea has the highest.

I’ve prepared some pictures of each category’s famous tea, let’s have a look together!

The first one is a famous Green Tea called Longjing Tea, it doesn’t fermentate at all, the tea leaves look quite green with a bit yellowish.

This one a famous yellow tea, the most obvious characteristic is that the leaves are staying in the tea soup straight. Its name is Junshan Yinzhen, Zhen literally means needle in Chinese.

White tea is closest to nature’s original taste, the water looks plain and the leaves are not fried or rolled, it is completely a natural process, the leaves are simply left in the open air to be tried and fermented, it might seem to be quite easy to make but the timing is the key factor in terms of quality and taste.

Tieguanyin belongs to the Oolong Tea family, as you can see the color of the leaves are darker but the tea soup’s color is still quite light.

I’m sure everyone knows Black Tea well, it is the most popular tea in the world and part of the reason is that it tastes less bitter and goes along well with milk and sugar. We call it red tea (红茶) in Chinese, I’m not sure why the names are different, one theory is that Chinese name is based on the color of the tea soup, but the name Black tea is based on the tea leaves color.

And the last one is dark tea, again, the name confusion continues, its Chinese name is literally black tea(黑茶), so red tea in Chinese becomes black tea in English and black tea in Chinese becomes dark tea in English.

3. Tea Making Process

If you have ever wondered how tea is made, there’re actually four main stages, the first is of course tea harvesting, it is a labor intensive process. Then depending on the tea classification, tea leaves will go through withering and/or fixation to be dried. The third stage is rolling, which gives tea leaves a nice shape, it is a manual process but nowadays there’re rolling machine to help, tea leave shapes is a major factor to determine tea price. The last stage is fermentation and/or drying.

Here’re some more Gifs to demonstrate the process, this is tea fixation, the temperature is very high to make the leaves dry, this is the rolling process, it’s quite artistic and requires a lot of effort and experience.

This is the natural withering (which is the most important phrase for making white tea). Finally, we drink tea.

4. Chinese Tea Culture

Lastly, I’d like to summarize Chinese Tea Culture with three main characteristics.

Tea represents the original taste of nature, Chinese usually drink tea by adding boiled water directly to the tea leaves, I always find it fascinating to watch how the leaves stretch in the water, it can calm my mind and sense the beauty of nature and life inside this cup of water. It is just like seeing the leaves come into alive again, and think about the long journey tea took to finally meet us.

Tea is widely considered as a healthy lifestyle, in China, we usually select the tea to drink based on the season, weather and personal health conditions, for example, we usually drink green tea in summer and black tea in winter.

Finally, tea culture is really flexible in China, you can have tea anywhere, anytime, in any form you like, it is naturally integrated into people’s daily life.

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