Posted 17 Apr 2007 21:44
Tea is made from the supple leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, native to both China and India. Shen Nong (the Divine Farmer) supposedly discovered tea in 2,700 BC. Since then tea has been part of the daily lives of the Chinese and is used in several products such as ice cream, shampoo, **** and even special dishes such as smoked tea duck. Because of their passion for tea drinking, the Chinese are extremely critical about tea and have high requirements about the tea quality (color and fragrance), water and tea ware. The finest tea is grown on high altitudes of 3,000 to 7,000 feet. Water used also plays an important role and it is often gathered from springs, rain or snow. Among them, spring and rainwater in autumn are considered the prefect ingredients for brewing tea. Water is considered perfect when its tastes sweet, pure, cool, and clean. The famous tea wares used are purple clay wares ( ?? ? ) made from Yixing, Jiangsu province and Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province.
Many conventions govern tea drinking in Chinese culture. The host will only pour tea about seven tenth full, because the other three tenth is said to be filled with friendship and affection. The guest should finish the tea in three gulps. Tea plays an important role in Chinese social life. Serving a cup of tea is more than mere politeness; it is also a symbol of togetherness, a gesture of sharing and enjoyment as well as friendship and respect.