The Ultimate Guide of Chinese Tea

Who doesn’t like to start their mornings or end their tiring nights with a nice warm cup of tea, right? For many people, drinking tea is a way to relax and spend a slow time with friends or yourself. The experience of drinking good tea induces a feeling of serenity and tranquility. This refreshing activity has been around for more than four millennia. With that, tea had and has always been the people’s delight and satisfaction for innumerable drinkers worldwide. 


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The practice of drinking tea has long originated in China. If you are new to drinking tea and curious why it has been loved and adored for thousands of years, then it is only right to give you a thorough guide on everything about Chinese tea, as tea is intensely rooted in Chinese culture. 

So, if you want to learn a lesson or two regarding Chinese tea, keep on reading!

History of chinese tea

To understand the origins of tea as a whole, you have to understand the history of Chinese tea. As the practice of drinking tea all began in one of the largest countries in East Asia, it is only right to trace the origins in China. 

The art of drinking tea has originated in China and dates back thousands of years ago. Even though tea originated in China during the Tang Dynasty, Chinese tea primarily refers to tea leaves prepared to utilize ancient practices in China. According to Chinese beliefs, tea was discovered in 2737 BC by an ancient Chinese Emperor named Shen Nong. The emperor was believed to have encountered tea when a leaf from a nearby tree fell into boiling water his servant was preparing for him. He then let his servant drink the infusion, which the servant enjoyed. The concoction was given the name "ch'a" by Emperor Shen Nong, which means "to verify or investigate" in Chinese. 

In 200 B.C., an ancient Emperor in the Han Dynasty decreed that a particular written character depicting wooden branches, grass, and a man between the two be used when referring to tea. For Chinese culture, this written character, also pronounced "ch'a," symbolizes how tea brought people into harmony with nature.

During the Sui Dynasty, tea was used for medicinal purposes (581-618). In the fourth and fifth centuries, tea was flavored with rice, salt, spices, ginger, and orange peel, among other things. Finally, during the Tang Dynasty, tea drinking became an art form and a drink enjoyed by people of all socioeconomic strata (618-907). 

Tea became a common drink in Buddhist monasteries as its caffeine proved to keep monks alert during long hours of meditation. As a result, several monasteries began to cultivate extensive tea estates. As an orphan, Lu Yu, the author of The Book of Tea, was reared and educated at a monastery. His work, released during the Tang Dynasty, was most likely influenced by his upbringing in a tea-growing environment. Lu Yu recorded a complete explanation of how to cultivate and prepare tea, tea drinking customs, the finest water for tea brewing, and several classifications of tea in his book The Book of Tea.

Whipped powdered tea became popular during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), but after the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), when many other characteristics of Song culture were destroyed due to foreign rule, it vanished totally from Chinese culture. However, after the Yuan Dynasty, Chinese people were accustomed to drinking steeped tea from leaves, and they still do so today.

With that, China's history and culture are deeply intertwined with tea. So entwined that along with firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, and vinegar, tea is regarded as one of the seven needs of Chinese life. 

Chinese tea market

Tea is the most consumed beverage globally, especially in South East Asia. Most tea is made from the leaves of a plant known as the Camellia sinensis. In 2018, Tea output worldwide was over 5.8 million metric tons, with the global tea beverage industry valued at around 81.6 billion dollars in 2026.


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Tea is thought to have originated as a medicinal beverage in Southwest China. The earliest reliable evidence of tea consumption in China stems from the 3rd century AD. Tea has unquestionably played a vital cultural, social, and sometimes even religious role in the region for millennia, and it has now become China's national drink.

China is considered the top producer of tea globally, followed by India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. The tea plantation area in China has been steadily increasing, with the most common tea-cultivation regions in Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan, and Hubei provinces lying around and south of the Yangtze river valley.

China significantly exports more tea than almost any nation globally in international trade. Green tea makes up the bulk of China's overall tea exports, with the majority going to Morocco, Uzbekistan, Hong Kong, and a few West African countries. According to China Customs data, exports of practically all types of Chinese teas, such as black, oolong, Pu'er, and green teas, increased by eight to 85 percent in 2019. Despite this, China's tea imports have been growing. For example, China imported roughly 36,000 metric tons of black tea in 2019, up almost 30% from the previous year. Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Indonesia, and Taiwan supplied the most of it.

Tea was consumed about nine times more often than coffee in China in 2015, with 626 thousand metric tons consumed domestically. However, in 2016, China's annual per capita tea consumption was just 1.25 pounds, more than Indonesia, India, Taiwan, and several other major global tea producers, but lower than Japan and several European countries like Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Tea retail sales value, manufacture, and consumption in China are expected to increase in the next few years as people become more aware of the health advantages of tea and are prepared to pay more for a higher quality tea.

Although agriculture is a significant source of income for many Chinese people, it contributes far less to the nation's total gross domestic product (GDP) than the services and industry sectors. However, compared to other affluent countries, China's agriculture industry makes a significant contribution. For example, in 2017, the agricultural industry in the United States, which is the world's largest agrarian provider, generated less than 1% of the country's total GDP.  In the same year, China's agriculture sector contributed more than 7% of GDP and created a gross production value of more than 5.8 trillion yuan, utilizing almost 27% of the country's total population.

Tea manufacturing and consumption have been practiced in China for generations. By the end of 2018, the entire area of tea plantations, largely around the Yangtze River and other southern regions, had grown to about three million hectares. Green tea, which does not go through a fermentation process, is the most widely manufactured and consumed type of Chinese tea. In 2019, the industry produced over 1.8 million metric tons of green tea. As a result, China is not only the world's greatest tea grower but also the world's leading exporter, with over 300,000 metric tons of tea exported each year. With almost 378,000 tons that year, post-fermented tea, often known as Chinese dark or black tea, was China's second most popular tea type. The most popular type of post-fermented Chinese tea is Pu Erh tea.

Categories of chinese tea

Many provinces in southern China, including Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, and Yunnan, grow tea. Chinese tea is classified into distinct sorts based on the processes it goes through during plucking and processing and the qualities that these processes produce. The primary kinds of Chinese tea discussed here are green tea, white tea, black, tea, yellow tea, oolong tea, fermented or dark tea, and Pu Erh tea.

  • Green Tea

    Green tea is the ancient and most famous form of tea in China, consumed for thousands of years. Green tea is manufactured from the tea plant's fresh stems and leaves, dried and treated according to the desired type of tea.

    Green tea processing procedures are categorized into water removal, rolling, and drying. Green tea is a light-coloured beverage with a strong, astringent flavor. Jiangxi, Anhui, and Zhejiang provinces manufacture the majority of them. However, West Lake Dragon Well Tea is the most well-known green tea made in Hangzhou.

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  • White Tea

    IWhite tea is green tea that has been dried fast without being fermented or cured. White tea is produced solely by sun-drying or delicate frying without using kneading. The dried tea leaf has a slender shape and is green in colour, with white fuzz covering it. It's from Fujian Province and has a lighter colour than other teas and a mild, exquisite flavour. Poor Chinese folks used to provide plain boiling water to guests if they did not have any tea, and they termed it "white tea."

  • Black Tea

    Black tea is considered the second most popular type of Chinese tea. It is prepared from young tea shoots that have been withered, rolled, fermented, and dried. The infusion has a gorgeous red hue and a little aromatic scent. Two of the most popular types of black tea are Keemun, also known as qimen, from Anhui province, and Lapsang Souchong, also known as zhengshan xiaozhong, which is burnt over smouldering pine.

  • Yellow Tea

    Allowing moist tea leaves to dry spontaneously produces yellow tea. It has a unique aroma comparable to red tea. However, the flavour is more like green or white tea. Because yellow is the typical imperial colour, yellow tea was also used to denote the high-quality tea served to the emperors. The most renowned yellow tea in China is Junshan Yinzhen, grown in Hunan Province.

  • Oolong tea

    Oolong, sometimes called Blue tea, is an unfermented tea with distinct qualities. Because it is semi-oxidized, Oolong tea has a flavour that is midway between green and black tea. Oolong tea is a combination of green and red teas that combines both of the greatest flavours and aromas. Oolong tea, often known as green leaves with a red border, is considered to help with fat breakdown and is frequently used as a weight loss and beauty booster. Two notable brands of this famous tea are Wenshan Baozhong Tea and Dongding Oolong Tea.

  • Dark Tea

    Dark tea is a post-fermented tea that goes through a bacterial-assisted fermentation process. Water removal, first rolling, piling, second rolling, roasting, and drying are the six phases that make up the entire process. Dark tea is thought to have begun in Anhua City, Hunan Province, in the 16th century. Anhua Dark Tea, Hubei Laobian Tea, Sichuan Tibetan Tea, and Guangxi Liubao Tea are the most well-known dark tea brands. In addition, Hong Kong, Macau, Southeast Asia, and Japan are immense fanatics of dark tea.

  • Pu Erh Tea

    Pu Erh tea is technically a dark tea. However, due to its distinct characteristics, it deserves its category. Pu Erh tea, which originated in Yunnan Province, is backed by a 2000-year-old history. According to the Yunnan government's definition, Pu Erh tea is made from a large-leaf variety of a plant known as Camellia sinensis. This plant only grows in a certain location and is then compressed or brick tea using a specific method. On August 5, 2008, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine designated Pu Erh tea as a geographical indication product. Only tea grown in Yunnan's 639 towns, spread among 11 regions and cities, is allowed to be termed Pu Erh tea. Sheng Pu Erh, also known as raw or green Pu Erh, and Shu Pu Erh, also known as ripened or black Pu Erh, are two different forms of Pu Erh tea.

Other than this Chinese tea classification, it is crucial to note other factors that impact the production of a specific type of Chinese tea:

  • Origin of Tea leaves

    The weather in China is diverse, and the conditions for cultivating tea vary by region. It grows on various soils, at different altitudes, and in multiple temperatures. Hence, its leaf accumulates various chemicals that affect the tea's flavour and scent. In Yunnan, for example, giant leaf trees abound, whereas, in Fujian, small leaf tea plants predominate.

  • Environment for cultivation

    Several tea kinds are cultivated under specified conditions. Spring's Emerald spirals, for example, are grown among the fruit trees to infuse the tea leaf scent with fruity overtones that emerge softly during brewing. The taste of the cultivating tea will differ on the same mountain, depending on whether it was grown at the mountain's base, in the middle, or at the mountain's peak. These differences also result in various tea's worth.

  • Tea cultivars

    Tea trees that grow to be over 20 meters tall and tea bushes can be found in China. Tea young leaves are also broad, slender, round, and little. There are particular plants for white tea with strong white hairs. The shrub of Tie Guan Yin has given the title to the full variety of Oolongs marked by thick, rough-textured leaves. A few instances indicate that each type of tea needs a unique tea plant cultivar. Green tea can be produced from whatever tea bush because "green" refers to leaf processing technology. The Dragon Well from Xi Hu Lake, on the other hand, can only be made from specific bushes that grow in a particular location.

  • Time of Harvest

    Each variety of tea has its harvest season. As a result, different teas can be made from the same tree at different year periods. After all, only one sort of tea is produced, differentiated by quality ratings based on the harvesting period.

  • Processing of Leaves

    Each type of tea requires a different kind of tea plant leaf. There are teas manufactured entirely of buds, others entirely of tips (the bud plus one or two leaves), some entirely of huge leaves, and others entirely of full offshoots with multiple leaves. Today, technologists give gatherers specific instructions on what leaves to cleanse for tea manufacture.

How to brew Chinese tea: A step by step guide

What is the best way of making Chinese tea? Various kinds of Chinese tea require different stages and approaches. Some essential processes for making Chinese tea are, nonetheless, comparable.

Step 1: Prepare a tea set.

Heat your water by using a kettle to start preparing your tea set. Then, to warm up the tea set, place the teapot, snifter teacups, and ordinary teacups in the bowl and pour the hot water over them. Retrieve the teacup and teapot from the bowl after that. If the cups are extremely hot to touch with your hands, use tongs to handle them.

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Step 2: Place the Chinese tea leaves in the teapot.

Put the tea leaves into the teapot using a tea-leaf holder or a spoon. The amount of tea and water needed depends on the type of tea, its grade and quality, and the teapot volume. However, one teaspoon of tea leaves per six ounces of water is a good starting point.

Step 3: Wash the Chinese tea leaves

Pour boiling water into the teapot, wait a few seconds, and then remove the soup from the pot. During the harvesting and processing of tea leaves, dust and other contaminants can contaminate the leaves, and pesticide residues may be present on the surface. As a result, the first brew of tea could include dangerous ingredients, hence should be avoided. However, most tea has been washed clean throughout the manufacturing, so this step is unnecessary.

Step 4: Fill the container with hot water.

It's best to put into water that fills almost the rim of the tea kettle, giving enough room for the tea leaves to disseminate. In most cases, the brewing duration is around 5 minutes. The stronger the flavor of tea leaves brewed for a longer period.


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Step 5: Fill a decent cup halfway with tea soup.

Pour the tea into the warm fair cup first, then shake it evenly before pouring it into the visitors' cups. As a result, the tea tastes the same as if the guests are served early or late. 

Step 6: Serve your prepared tea.

When serving tea, hand the teacup to the guest on the tea tray and set it in front of their right hand.

Step 7: Enjoy your cup of tea

Instead of sipping the tea right away after it is served, you should examine the form and color of the tea. Then, while holding the teacup, inhale its scent. You will be able to taste it afterward.

What Makes Chinese Tea Special?

Tea is one of the seven needs of life in Chinese culture. Chinese tea contains unique compounds such as tea polyphenol and theine, which are good for human health. The advantages that Chinese tea provides are what make it special. The top eight wonderful benefits of drinking Chinese tea are listed here. 

  1. The anti-inflammatory benefits of Chinese tea are well-known.

    Inflammation occurs when your body attempts to defend itself against foreign items trying to harm it. This process could indicate that your immune system is battling poisons, injuries, or infections. Your body may perceive its cells as a threat, resulting in an autoimmune disorder. For example, if your skin is red, puffy, in pain, or the affected area appears warm due to increased blood flow, you have inflammation. Antioxidants are abundant in both green and black tea. EGCG is the most potent antioxidant found in these teas. This powerful antioxidant has anti-inflammatory properties in immunological and vascular cells.

  2. Memory is said to be improved by drinking Chinese tea.

    Many of the health advantages of green tea are related to your physical well-being. On the other hand, Green tea can assist you in increasing your mental talents. Tea includes enzymes that improve brain function and reduce cognitive deterioration in middle-aged persons.

    According to a study conducted in Singapore, regular drinking of tea can prevent cognitive deterioration in older persons by up to 86 percent. This finding suggests that Chinese tea may provide one day aid in treating mental illnesses such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

  3. Chinese tea can help you think more clearly.

    Tea drinking is more than just a custom. It can also aid in the development of your mental abilities. It offers energy and modulates sleep patterns by combining caffeine and L-theanine.

    mproved memory, enhanced cognitive processes, and enhanced emotions are just a few of the brain-boosting advantages of tea. In addition, green tea contains L-theanine, which is responsible for increasing brain capacity. Alpha waves are linked to focus, and attention spans and L-theanine have improved them.


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  4. Drinking Chinese tea decreases the risk of developing Diabetes

    Chinese tea can aid in the management of Diabetes and other life-altering ailments. Those who drank more than six cups of green tea per day had a 33 percent chance of acquiring Diabetes than those who consumed less than one cup per week, according to a long-term study of 17,000 males and females aged 40 to 65. Green tea, black tea, and white tea are ideal for people with Diabetes since they include more polyphenols, polysaccharides, and microelements. They should, however, avoid drinking strong tea.

  5. Weight loss can be aided by Chinese tea.

    When it comes to decreasing weight, Chinese tea is also beneficial. Green tea is the most popular weight-loss tea. Green tea aids weight loss by boosting your metabolism, which means your body will convert fat into energy more quickly. In addition, green tea contains natural caffeine, which has been shown to help burn fat and improve workout performance. Green tea also includes several antioxidants, such as EGCG, which are believed to aid in fat breakdown.

  6. Chinese tea can combat free radicals.

    If you do not take care of free radicals properly, they can do a great deal of harm to your body. Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons that circulate throughout your body. Because they lack an electron pair, these molecules seek out other molecules from which to steal an electron.

    Oxidative stress can severely harm your cells and body due to a series of destructive processes. Chinese tea benefits your body since your body's free radicals and antioxidants must be perfectly balanced to function effectively. An excess of free radicals causes oxidative stress. Although some oxidative stress is beneficial to your body, too much oxidative stress has been related to diseases such as Diabetes, Parkinson's disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.

  7. Drinking Chinese tea can aid in stimulating muscle strength and endurance.

    Chinese tea, high in catechins, aids in the fat-burning process. It helps you grow muscle while also increasing your muscle endurance. Increased muscle endurance has numerous advantages, including reduced injury risk, increased confidence, and improved athletic abilities.

  8. Drinking Chinese tea can help in improving gum and tooth health

    Tea is also proven to benefit oral health when consumed regularly. Tea can help protect your body from caries, dental problems, and bacteria that produce foul breath if you drink it daily. Green tea ha sseveral advantages, but one of the lesser recognized is that it helps to reduce germs in the mouth. This ability, in turn, aids in the reduction of bad breath and the prevention of cavities. Green tea also helps to manage the acidity of your saliva, which helps to lower the risk of cavities. Chinese tea has also been more effective at preventing bad breath and improving gum health.

Typical Q&A about Chinese Tea

  1. What Is the Caffeine Content of Chinese Tea?

    The caffeine content in Chinese Tea varies based on the special brew you choose. The reason is due to the processing of the leaves, which changes the chemical components of the tea leaves.

    White Tea, the least processed, contains roughly 15 milligrams per 8-ounce cup. Then there's the 30-mg Green Tea. On the other hand, Oolong Tea has 35-37 mg of caffeine, whereas Black Tea has 40 mg.

  2. What is the Calorie Content of a Cup of Chinese Tea?

    It depends; for the most part, it's good news. Anticipate no more than two calories per 8-oz cup when it comes to Calories in Tea, particularly the Camellia sinensis plant.

    However, things get a little tricky for Chinese Tea mixed with flavorings and other fruit additives. For example, Peppermint Tea has roughly 2.4 calories, whereas Hibiscus has close to 37 calories.

    Nonetheless, the extras like milk and sugar add the most calories to your morning tea. You will get roughly 13 calories from semi-skimmed milk. Full dairy, on the other hand, contains around 19 calories. Unsurprisingly, two tablespoons of sugar contain 30 calories or more.

  3. Are there any adverse effects to drinking Chinese Tea?

    Tea might have negative side effects in certain conditions. However, this is frequently dependent on the individual's health and well-being.

    Because of the caffeine level, consuming too much of it might cause jitteriness and sleepiness. In addition, headaches, restlessness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, heart palpitations, and other symptoms have also been reported.

    Meanwhile, some forms of Chinese herbal Tea can be harmful to pregnant women. Licorice, Sage, Pine Needles, and Vervain Tea are just a few examples.

    You must speak with a physician or another healthcare specialist if you have any concerns.

  4. Is Chinese Tea Staining to Your Teeth?

    Yes, it is possible. Tannins in Tea are the main explanation for this. Unfortunately, these are a type of astringent polyphenol that can cause tooth staining.

    Green Tea, for instance, may leave a dull grey stain, while Black Tea produces a yellowish discoloration. But it's not all doom and gloom. For example, tannins in Tea play a role in the health advantages of green Tea.

    Tannins have been demonstrated to have antioxidant action. Therefore the benefits considerably outweigh the drawbacks. An abundance of tannins called catechins, notably Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), in Green Tea leads to enhanced cardiovascular health and a lower risk of diabetes.

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  5. Is it Safe to Drink Chinese Tea While Pregnant?

    Tea leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant make white, black, green, oolong, yellow, and Pu Erh teas. Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant that should be avoided during pregnancy.

    Caffeine crosses the placenta readily, and your baby's undeveloped liver has difficulty breaking it down. As a result, newborns are more susceptible to negative effects from caffeine doses that otherwise would have been deemed safe for adults.

    According to studies, babies subjected to too much caffeine throughout pregnancy are more likely to be born prematurely, have low birth weight, or have birth abnormalities. In addition, caffeine consumption during pregnancy may raise the chance of abortion or stillbirth. However, when pregnant women restrict their caffeine consumption to 300 mg per day, the dangers appear to be negligible.

    However, certain women's genes may predispose them to the negative effects of caffeine. For example, evidence suggests that taking 100–300 mg of caffeine per day increases the chance of miscarriage by 2.4 times in this small group of women (8Trusted Source).

    Caffeinated teas are generally safe to consume during pregnancy because they have less caffeine than coffee. However, to avoid drinking excessive caffeine per day, their consumption may be restricted.

Final Thoughts: 

Chinese Tea has a long history in China. Chinese Tea production has boosted economic growth as Chinese society has expanded and progressed, and tea consumption has remained a daily practice.

Human beings' spirits and wisdom can be elevated via the practices of Chinese tea culture. Chinese Tea has a strong connection to Chinese culture, and its study encompasses a wide range of topics with a wealth of information. It captures the spirit of both civilization and ideological form. There is no denying that it has helped people improve their social skills and appreciation for art.

References: 

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