Tea History

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Tea History - Lu Yu

According to Lu Yu's Tea Classics, tea-drinking in China can be traced back to the Zhou Dynasty (1100-221 B.C.): Tea was discovered by Shennong and became popular as a drink in the State of Lu because of Zhou Gong. Tea drinking in China has a history of four thousand years. As the legend has it, Shennong, a legendary hero, tasted hundreds of wild plants to see which were poisonous and which were edible, so as to prevent people from eating the poisonous plants. It is said that he was poisoned seventy-two times in one day but was saved by chewing some tender leaves of an evergreen plant blossoming with white flowers. Since he had a transparent belly, people could see how the food moved throughout his stomach and intestines. When they saw the juice of the tender leaves go up and down in the stomach as if it were searching for something, they called it “cha”, meaning search in Chinese. Later it was renamed “cha” having the same sound of the present one.

 

Tea has been used as one of the sacrificial offerings to gods and ancestors at the memorial ceremony from ancient times in China. Tea was also used as a funerary object in ancient times. Moreover tea has had close connection with religion in China. In the history of China tea is usually regarded as a kind of drink that would refresh oneself and make the mind calm. In Buddhism tea is praised as a sacred thing given by God.

 

In modern time, people still keep drinking tea as their daily drinking. From the study, tea can also have effects on some modern illnesses. To those groups who have to work with computers for a long time, drinking a cup of tea can help them to build a wall against the daily computer radiation. To those people who may find too much fat, drinking tea can help them to re-create a new balance in their bodies. And to those aged people, drinking tea is also a good way to keep a calm mood for a longer life.

The practice of drinking tea has a long history in China. Shennong, whose name means the Divine Farmer and who is considered as the ancient Chinese Father of Agriculture, is honored with the discovery of tea. According to legend, one fall afternoon, Shennong decided to take a rest under a Camellia tree and boiled some water to drink. Dried leaves from the tree above floated down into the pot of boiling water and infused with the water, creating a pot of tea, marking the first ever infusion of the tea leaf. Intrigued by the delightful fragrance, Shennong took a sip and found it refreshing. Since Shennong's discovery, tea has been grown and enjoyed throughout the world.

 

Tea drinking is a nationwide custom in China. It is a daily necessity for the Chinese to have three meals and tea a day. When any guest comes, it is a rite to present a cup of tea to him/her. There are numerous teahouses in every town and city. Tea drinking is an art, a skill in China. In some places the way of making tea is very complicated. And the tea utensils-the teacup, tea saucer, teapot, tea tray-are works of art. Diansin (pastry), which goes with tea, both tasty and appealing, is loved not only by the Chinese but also by the people all over the world. There are hundreds of famous teas in China and there are a great many famous springs and streams to provide water to make tea. And the tea fields or tea mountains are also marvelous sights to add beauty to the scenery. It is said that the literary artists of Ancient China were inspired either by tea or by wine. Those who were fond of wine were said to write in a passionate and heroic style; those who preferred tea tended to be sentimental and romantic. In China, one can discover that romantic spirit for oneself, enjoying a cup of imperial tea in a peaceful setting with good company.