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The Importance of Tea in China

by Dianna Leon
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THE IMPORTANCE OF TEA IN CHINA

Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, second only to water. The history of this drink began in China, more than 5,000 years ago, from where it spread to all regions of the world, conquering many peoples.

the history of tea

It is said that in the year 2737 BC, a Chinese emperor named Shen Nung boiled the leaves of an unknown plant in a little water, achieving a wonderful result. Thus was born tea and the consumption of the new drink became popular and conquered the population of all of China.

There is also a legend about the discovery of tea, which states that the discoverer of the drink was the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. According to legend, the monk made a promise that he would pray to Buddha for a year without stopping. During a prayer, sleep overcame him and he fell asleep. He woke up feeling unwell, unworthy, and plucked out his eyelashes, which took root and turned into a bush whose dry, scalded leaves produced a drink.

The importance of tea in China has historical proof: some archaeological excavations have found tea containers in the tombs of the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), but tea became the official drink of China during the Tang dynasty (618 – 906 AD ). Tea became so famous that, during the 8th century, the first book dedicated to this drink was written by Lu Yu, entitled “Ch’a Ching”.

Tea began to be part of religious culture and spread beyond the Chinese territories, reaching Japan and, from 1560 onwards, the drink began to travel around the world and conquered different cultures and peoples.

the importance of tea

The tea ceremony (Tchâ-no-yu) or Sadôo (“the way of tea”) is a feeling developed with the influence of Zen Buddhism, which aims to purify man’s soul, mixing it with nature. Some Japanese Buddhist monks, after a stay in China, noted the importance of tea in religious meditation.

The Chinese and Japanese drink hot tea – preferably green tea – during meals, excluding water or any other cold beverage.

In some places, teas are consumed in handleless cups. This happens for two reasons: if you can hold it with your hands, it indicates that the tea temperature is ideal for consumption; if you can’t hold it and even burn your hands it’s because it can be bad.

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