Chinese Tea Types and its Culture
Tea is a daily part of Chinese life, there is bound to be at least a few types of tea in every family. When you are being invited to a Chinese home, the host will often ask if you would like a cup of tea (你想要喝杯茶吗?nǐ xiǎng yào hē bēi chá ma?). Most families also have a tea set that they used whenever guests come over.
In Chinese restaurants, tea is being served as the main beverage instead of water.
In addition, tea sets and tea leaves are often being sold as gifts to friends and family. Goes to show how much tea means to the Chinese, huh? (:
The history of tea dates back to 5000 years ago, when the leaves from a tree blew into Emperor Shen Nung's pot of boiling water, resulting in a refreshing scent. The emperor loved it and hence it developed into the tea that we know of today.
The main types of tea include:
1. Green Tea 绿茶 (lǜ chá)
This is the most popular types of tea. It is made from the shoots of the trees and then processed to form Green Tea. The most popular green tea is the Dragon Well, or 龙井茶 (lóng jǐng chá), which originates from Hangzhou. It has a fresh green taste, if you like your tea to be mild, this is the right choice for you!
Its health benefits include lowering cancer risks because of its anti-oxidants, boost metabolism rate and lowers the risk of becoming obese, and also lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
2. Black Tea 红茶 (hóng chá)
This is the second largest types of tea. The tea leaves are dried, oxidised and roasted. The most popular red tea is Keemum (祁门红茶, qí mén hóng chá) from Anhui. It is regarded as one of the top quality black tea is especially popular in the Western market. It has a stronger flavour than green tea with an aromatic fragrance.
Its health benefits include reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, helps with digestive problems, and lowers cholesterol levels.
3. Yellow Tea 黄茶 (huáng chá)
This type of rare tea is produced in the same way as green tea, but with an additional step of steaming the tea leaves under damp cloth and then letting it dry. Silver Needle Yellow Tea (君山银针, jūn shān yín zhēn) produced in Hunan Province is one of the famous yellow tea. It has a taste that is similar to green tea.
The health benefits include helping with weight loss, reduces inflammation, prevents diabetes and lowers cholesterol levels.
4. White Tea 白茶 (bái chá)
White tea is unfermented green tea that is dried quickly. It produces a fresh and delicate flavour and is one of the healthiest type of tea. The popular types of white tea are White Peony (白牡丹茶, bái mǔ dān chá) and White Hair Silver Needle (白毫银针, bái háo yín zhēn).
The health benefits include improving oral health, maintaining healthy skin (due to its high anti-oxidants level), provides relief to common cold and improving the immune system.
5. Dark Tea 黑茶 (hēi chá)
Black tea is a type of post-fermented tea and is more oxidised than green and white teas. Hence it also has a much stronger flavour. One of the famous tea Pu-erh is also categorised under black tea. Other popular black tea include Anhua dark tea (安化黑茶, Ān huà hēi chá).
The health benefits include reducing stress, cleansing the body of toxins and aiding in digestion.
6. Oolong Tea 乌龙茶 (wū lóng chá)
Oolong Tea is made for the same plant as green and black tea, but it is only partially oxidised. The flavour of Oolong tea can differ from fresh taste to a more malty taste.
The health benefits include reducing obesity, strengthen bones and controls diabetes.
7. Blooming Tea 工艺花茶 (gōng yì huā chá)
This is a special type of tea that combines green tea with a type of flower, such as jasmine, lily, rose or chrysanthemum. The dried flowers are wrapped in the tea leaves and formed into a ball shape. When dropped into warm water, it expands much like a blooming flower.
The result? Very aesthetically pleasing tea with many health benefits! Some of which include improving one's mood, regulating blood pressure and eliminating toxins and hence reducing heat in the body.
Of course, there are many sub types of teas and overall too many teas to discuss in one post. Besides having health benefits on the physical body, drinking tea also helps us mentally. It reduces stress and some non-caffeinated teas also aid in sleeping. A hot cup of tea on a rainy day with your favourite book or movie in bed.. sounds perfect right?
So... would you like a cup of tea? (: