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The history of Chinese Tea

The practice of drinking tea has had a long history in China, having originated there. Although tea originated in China, Chinese tea generally represents tea leaves which have been processed using methods inherited from ancient China. According to popular legend, tea was discovered by Chinese Emperor Shennong in 2737 BCE when a leaf from a nearby shrub fell into water the emperor was boiling. Tea is deeply woven into the history and culture of China. The beverage is considered one of the seven necessities of Chinese life, along with firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce and vinegar.

All tea originally came from China and from the same plant, Camelia Sinensis. The modern term "tea" der

A statue of Lu Yu. Xi'an, China
ives from early Chinese dialect words - such as Tchai, Cha and Tay - used both to describe the beverage and the leaf. Chinese legends state that the qualities of tea are said to have been first discovered by the Second Emperor, Shen Nung (Divine Healer) (reputed to have reigned 2737- 2697 B.C.), who also discovered millet, medicinal herbs, and invented the plough. The tea trade was first mentioned in 1066 B.C. when Yunnan sent some tribute tea to the emperor. It is thought that the origins of the Camellia Sinensis plant are Yunnan province in the south of China. Currently there is a wild tea tree that is over seventeen hundred years old, and there is a cultivated tea tree that is reported to be over eight hundred years old.


Legend also has it that the first people that cultivated tea were monks that wanted to stay alert during their meditation. To this day many teas have names that are related to monks. About 1200 years ago, The first book on tea "Ch'a Ching", circa 780 AD, was written by the Chinese author Lu Yu. It comprises three volumes and covers tea from its growth through to its making and drinking, as well as covering a historical summary and famous early tea plantation. There are many illustrations of tea making utensils and some say that the book inspired the Buddhist monks to create the Japanese tea ceremony. Lu Yu is recognized in China as the equivalent of the patron saint of tea. Chinese tea was the inspiration for many poems, paintings, and of course the incredible ceramics that have produced the worlds premier tea pots and tea cups.

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