As a phenomenon, tea culture 茶文化 has existed and continued in China for thousands of years. Generally speaking, tea culture flourished in the Tang Dynasty, was sacred in the Song Dynasty, continued to develop in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, declined in the Republic of China for a while, and flourished again at the end of the 20th century. However, the term “tea culture” was first proposed and widely used in the 1980s. Tea experts from mainland China and Taiwan on both sides of the Taiwan Strait proposed it almost at the same time. After a series of activities such as international tea culture seminars and the publication of relevant books, this new concept was constantly discussed and studied, and the term “tea culture” was gradually established.
Up to now, tea culture can be roughly summarized into three viewpoints, a broad concept, a narrow concept and a middle concept between the two. The tea culture proposed by the scholars of the middle concept is the humanities of tea and part of the social sciences of tea, which belongs to tea science. Although there is no universally recognized specific definition of tea culture, most tea culture researchers generally agree that tea culture is a culture generated and formed in the process of tea tasting and drinking. According to Yao Guokun’s theory of <Chinese Tea Culture>, the subject of tea culture is the study of the origin, evolution, transmission, structure, function and essence of tea by taking tea as the carrier in the process of developing, producing and utilizing tea. It is a comprehensive subject that expresses all kinds of ideas, beliefs, thoughts, feelings and ideologies between people and nature, between people and society, between people and people, and between people and self.
In history, the international spread and exchange of Chinese tea culture is generally believed to have lasted for more than two thousand years. There are two main ways: the land silk road spreads westward, northward and southward to the neighboring countries, and the sea silk road spreads eastward and to distant countries. There are six main modes of dissemination: giving tea as a gift to distinguished guests, bringing tea and tea seeds out through monks and envoys who come to China, and through economic and trade between countries, by helping to develop local tea planting and production at the invitation of other countries, and by Western missionaries to spread, the last one is obtained through improper means.
At present, there are only two modes of tea propagation: through economic and technological exports, to help other countries develop tea production, and through commercial transactions with economic and trade characteristics. Today, tea has become a popular drink in the world, and tea culture has also been integrated into world culture. The world tea culture can be roughly divided into four blocks: Northeast Asian tea culture represented by China, Japan and South Korea, Western European tea culture represented by Britain, tea culture represented by Middle Eastern countries, and pluralistic tea culture represented by Southeast Asian countries. The American block and the African block are also important components of the world tea culture.