Chinese Tea Culture

Chinese tea culture refers to how tea is prepared as well as the occasions when people consume tea in China. Tea-drinking is a constituent part of Chinese culture and was popular in ancient China as tea was regarded as one of the seven daily necessities, the others being firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, and vinegar. 

History of Chinese Tea Culture 

Tea originates from China, in which planting tea and drinking tea have lasted for thousands of years. As a national drink of China, tea originates from Shennong ( patron of agriculture), becomes famous at the time of Duke Zhoulu, and flourishes in Tang Dynasty and prevails in Song Dynasty. In the long process of history, Chinese people have made significant contributions to the cultivation, drinking, appliance of the tea, as well as the formation and development of the tea culture in human civilization. 

Chinese tea culture has formed its shape between Wei and Jin Dynasties, and the period of Nanbeichao, and has prevailed in Tang and Song Dynasties. Tea culture is the total material and spiritual fortune created by human beings in the history of society, which includes the history, poems, sonnets, ceremonies, arts, cultivation and manufacturing of tea with tea ceremony and arts as its core. 

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Tea Dringking Custom

There are several special circumstances in which tea is prepared and consumed in Chinese culture:

  • As a sign of respect: In Chinese society, the younger generation always shows their respect to the older generation by offering a cup of tea.  In the past, people of a lower social class served tea to the upper class in society. Today, with the increasing liberalization of Chinese society, this rule and its connotations have become blurred.
  • To apologize: In Chinese culture, tea may be offered as part of a formal apology. For example, children who have misbehaved may serve tea to their parents as a sign of regret and submission.
  • To show gratitude and celebrate weddings: In the traditional Chinese marriage ceremony, the bride and groom kneel in front of their respective parents and serve them tea and then thank them, together which represents an expression of their gratitude and respect.

Read More: Chinese Drinking Game

Tea Wear

Traditionally tea drinkers were regarded as the academic and cultural elites of society because the practice of drinking tea was considered to be an expression of personal morality, education, social principles, and status. Increased enthusiasm for tea drinking led to the greater production of tea ware, and also significantly popularized Chinese porcelain culture.

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Tea Brewing

There are no hard and fast rules for brewing tea because there are so many taste preferences and drinking habits. Also, each tea has its own characteristics. The brewing method various a little based on the type of the tea you are going to make, such as the water temperature, choose of tea sets, etc. Remember though, these are only guidelines, so feel free to make the tea your own and steep to YOUR liking. 

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Tea Ceremony

In China, when a guest comes to visit you, the etiquette of making a tea and offering a tea is essential because it is Chinese tradition to entertain the guests with tea and to offer guests with tea instead of wine. From the emperors, military or political leaders and literati to porters, hawkers and common people, tea serve as a gift and hobby as well. Tea culture has soaked into every aspect of Chinese life, which has linked with marriage, God-worshipping, religion, singing and dancing, operas, arts and novels. Hence, tea has become the carrier of Chinese traditional culture and arts. 

The Chinese tea ceremony contains the wisdom of oriental philosophy. Furthermore, Chinese tea ceremony reflects the central idea of Taoism, Confucian and Buddhism it’s a combination of philosophy and life style. Through the whole set of ceremony——making tea, appreciating tea, smelling tea, enjoying tea, friendship is increased, virtue is cultivated, traditional virtues etiquette are learned. The ceremony can refresh mind and clear thoughts. The spirit of tea ceremony is the core of tea culture and the spirit is represented by Taoism.

Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony

Given that tea is an important part of Chinese culture, it’s not surprising that tea part of a traditional Chinese wedding. Both bride and groom are expected to serve tea in a gaiwan to both sides of the parents, representing an important moment in which members of both families become relatives of each other. On this page, we’ve documented all the information you need to know to get ready for your wedding, or organize a Chinese wedding tea ceremony for someone close to you. 

A wedding ceremony shouldn’t be confused with a gongfu tea ceremony for appreciating tea. Gongfu tea ceremonies are about the slow and ritual like practice fo preparing traditional Chinese tea, while a wedding ceremony is about the tradition of celebration Chinese weddings, and honoring parents and relatives.

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Gongfu Tea Ceremony

The Gongfu tea ceremony or Kung fu tea ceremony, is a kind of Chinese tea ceremony, involving the ritual preparation and presentation of tea. It is probably based on the tea preparation approaches originated in Fujianand the Chaoshan area of eastern Guangdong. The term literally means “making tea with skill”. Today, the approach is used popularly by teashops carrying tea of Chinese origins, and by tea connoisseurs as a way to maximize the taste of a tea selection, especially a finer one. Although there are many steps in the gong fu tea ceremony, they are easy to master and they rarely take more than ten minutes to perform. 

Read more about How to Make Chinese Gongfu Tea

“Three-Course Tea”Ceremony in Yunnan

Three-Course Tea Ceremony (San Dao Cha 三道茶) is kind of tea custom of Bai people.  It is a traditional regional tea ceremony consisting of three unique tea flavors:  the host begins by presenting a bitter tea which stands for the hardships in life, then, a sweet tea of sesame and walnut symbolic of happiness in life, finally, a bitter, sweet, and spicy tea symbolic of pondering life.

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Tea House

Ancient Chinese scholars used the teahouse as a place for sharing ideas. The teahouse was a place where political allegiances and social rank were said to have been temporarily suspended in favor of an honest and rational discourse. Teahouse is the by-product of Chinese tea culture but it also the historical evidence of Chinese tea history.  Currently, people can also feel such a kind of humanistic atmosphere in Beijing like Lao She Teahouse and East China like Hangzhou, Suzhou, Yangzhou, Nanjing, Wuxi, Shaoxing and Shanghai and so on. It is still dynamic and vigorous.

Read More: Famous Tea Houses in China

Tea Festivlas and Expositions in China

Tea festivals and expositions are good time for you to learn and experience tea culture. At these events, you can expect to meet tea producers and raw material suppliers, tea processing equipment manufacturers, importers, exporters, retailers, distributors, packaging and branding companies, even tea space interior designers and tea culture promoters. You can engage in numerous tea tastings, tea cultural events, listen to dozens on dozens of noted speakers from all corners of the tea industry in China, and of course, make connections with the biggest players in the country. They also host numerous tea competitions, special exhibits, pop-up tea spaces, museums, and more. It’s a tea industry unto itself.

Tea Festivals:

Major Tea Expositions:

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Tea Museums in China

China National Tea Museum is a themed museum dedicated to tea culture. It is located in Shuangfeng Village at Longjing Road, southwest of Xihu Lake, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province. There are various exhibition halls, each with a focus subject such as tea history, extract, affairs, tools, and culture. In addition, there is a tea ceremony area in a building that has a classic atmosphere for tea-drinking, performing modern tea ceremony, traditional tea ceremony, Japanese tea ceremony, etc. Following the Qingming Festival each year, the museum will hold an international “Xihu Lake Tea Conference.”

Tea Museums in Yunnan:

Best China Tea Culture Tours

Join our Tea Culture Tours 2020 to visit the tea plantations in China, particularlty the King of the Tea Tree in Yunnan, experience tea picking and tea making, learn to brew a cup of tea, as well as tasting the tea and listenning to the tea masters to know more about Chinese tea culture.

China Tea Culture Tours by Region

Read More: How to Plan a Tea Culture Tour in Yunnan?

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