Based on historical data, there are 67 tea producing areas in Tang Dynasty, 8 tea producing areas mentioned in Lu Yu’s <Tea Classic 茶经>, 43 states (counties), which are equivalent to 13 provinces today. In Tang Dynasty, there were more than 50 kinds of famous tea, most of which were steamed green cake tea, and a small amount of loose tea, including green tea and yellow tea. At that time, Guzhu Purple Bamboo Shoot tea from Wuyue (Jiangsu and Zhejiang) and Mengshan Purple Bamboo Shoot tea from Xishu (Sichuan) were the most popular products of the Tang emperor. Tang tribute tea producing house is located in Hutou Cliff on the side of Guzhu mountain, Changxing County, Zhejiang Province, which was founded in 770. It is the place to supervise the production of tribute tea Guzhu tea in Tang Dynasty, it is also the first tea processing factory in Chinese history. Read More
Good news for Chinese readers: related article has been published in the April 2021 <Tea Times 茶博览> tea magazine in Chinese, “中国茶与德国烘培的偶遇” page 40-45.
In China, in fact, there are many kinds of tea food, and because of the types of tea, personal preferences and differences, it is a general principle to match sweet tea food with green tea, sour and sweet tea food with black tea, and salty and alkaline tea food with oolong tea, the so-called “sweet with green, sour with red, melon seeds with oolong 甜配绿，酸配红，瓜子配乌龙“. When it comes to tea food, in fact, it’s easy to think of Engliand afternoon tea food and Japanese tea food, the beautiful tea snack is not too greasy and crooked only when it is paired with tea. In Germany and Europe, there are only a few tea food that use tea as ingredients, Earl Grey tea shortcake and tea nougat, which are very common in Europe. These improved tea versions of European cuisines from Maren Thobaben, French tea macarons and Italian tea pasta, seem to open up a new European tea food world. Read More
Tea’s bitterness can clear the heart, Qin’s low and deep sounds can calm the mind down “茶苦可清心，古琴低沉可静心“, playing Qin (Guqin), tasting tea… several tea friends listen to the dialogue between Qin and tea, tuning Qin, boiling water and infusing tea. In a certain sense, there are many similarities between these two kinds of treasures with profound cultural heritage. Tea has a very long history, even before the beginning of human civilization, Qin, one of the oldest plucked string instruments in China, it has been popular since the time of Confucius with a history of more than 4000 years. Because Qin music style belongs to the quiet, virtual quiet, deep quiet, and so on static beauty. This is why Guqin is most suitable for playing in the dead of night, because such an environment can match the style of Qin music and the artistic conception it pursues. Tea and Guqin have very similar temperament, so in a tea ceremony performance, Guqin is generally chosen. When we clean our hearts, we do not simply drive away the external fatigue, but use Qin, emotion, tea, and Tao to drive away the turbid Qi in our hearts, and then cultivate our body and mind, so as to achieve a truly transcendent spiritual enjoyment. Ancient Chinese literati loved Qin and tea, playing Qin and drinking tea became a vivid portrayal of the life of literati and scholars, both of them can cultivate people’s character, temperament and sentiment, and meditate on Buddhism and Taoism, so as to achieve spiritual enjoyment and personality’s transcendence.
In China, there has always been a saying that tea and wine compete for merit. But in the minds of Chinese literati, the status of tea is still above wine. Throughout the status of tea and wine in the poets’ minds, there is a process, a leading wine poetry first, tea and wine on an equal footing, to the tea dominating position. In the early Tang Dynasty, the poets used wine to boost their spirits. With the emergence of tea drinking groups such as Lu Yu and Jiao Ran, more and more poets of Tang Dynasty became associated with tea. The tea loving monk, Jiao Ran not only knew, loved and enjoyed tea, but also wrote many charming poems about tea, he thought that wein was far from tea “The elegance and purity of this tea is unknown to the world, people relying on drinking alcohol is to deceive themselves and others. 此物清高世莫知，世人饮酒多自欺 – <饮茶歌诮崔石使君>”. Jiao Ran discussed the art of tea drinking together with Lu Yu, the sage of tea, and advocated the tea tasting atmosphere of “replacing wine with tea”. He made great contributions to the development of tea culture in Tang Dynasty and later generations. Bai Juyi’s attitude towards tea and wine is more typical, “when there is no alcohol for guests to drink, 聊将茶代酒 for the moment, make do with tea instead of alcohol – <宿蓝溪对月>”, “We can know the strength of an alcoholic drink when we drive away the sorrow, we can see the effect of tea when we break the drowsiness 驱愁知酒力，破睡见茶功 – <赠东邻王十三>”, it was Bai Juyi who added a large amount of tea into the poetry world and made tea and wine keeping abreast of the world of poetry. From his poems, we can see the gradual rise and transformation of tea among literati.
Offering tea to guests is a virtue left over from ancient China in the land of rites, and it is a kind of noble etiquette in daily life to offer tea to guests. “山居偏隅竹为邻，客来莫嫌茶当酒” This is a couplet describing how to treat guests with tea. The meaning of the couplet is: I live in seclusion in the mountains, and the bamboo forest next to my residence is my neighbor. When relatives and friends come to visit, please don’t dislike me to treat you with tea instead of alcohol. This group of tea poem written by master Zhu Xi, the famous confucianist honoured as Zhu Zi in Song Dynasty, also known as “Tea Immortal 茶仙“, the couplet was inscribed in front of Sanxian temple in Shuilian cave, Wuyi Mountains. It shows Zhu Xi’s daily life of being close to nature and entertaining guests with tea when he lived in seclusion in Wuyi Mountains. At the same time, his “以茶喻学 analogy of his theory from tasting tea” was brought into full play, and his combination of “tea” and “theory” together created a different spark.
Tea drinking of Song Dynasty reflected the unique life style and philosophy of literati. Liu Xuezhong, a modern scholar, commented: “Su Shi was the typical representative of tea drinking life in Song Dynasty. The feature and spirit of tea were still hazy in Bai Juyi’s time, but they became clear and clear in Su Shi‘s period. Su Dongpo (Su Shi), a great literary giant in Song Dynasty, loved tea in an all-round way. He not only tasted, fried and ground tea, but also planted tea trees. In his poem <Planting Tea 种茶>, Dongpo described how he transplanted an old tea tree. A hundred years old tea tree, has been abandoned, but Su Shi chose a good spring rain season, moved it to his garden. Under his careful care, the old tea tree revived its vitality and produced excellent tea.
Wu Lizhen, a native of Yandao (famous mountain area of Ya’an, Sichuan Province) in the Western Han Dynasty, was a Taoist school figure named Ganlu- Sweet Dew Taoist, he successively presided over the monasteries of Meng Mountain. In 153 BC, Wu Lizhen discovered the medicinal function of wild tea in Meng Mountain, When the villagers were ill, he enthusiastically soaked the leaves in water for them to drink, and the effect was also very good. Unfortunately, there were not many such trees, and the leaves could not meet the needs of curing diseases and saving people. He was determined to cultivate more tea trees, so he planted seven tea trees from seeds on a hollow land between the five peaks of Meng Mountain. Wu Lizhen is regarded as the earliest tea grower in China and even in the world, which was clearly recorded in words, he is also known as the tea ancestor and tea ceremony master of Meng Mountain.
Tea Plant was called Thea sinensis not Camellia sinensis ?!
In the first half of the 17th century, when the German people didn’t know what tea was, the German tea pioneers began to pay attention to the drink called natural medicine brought back by European maritime countries. Tea was constantly mentioned in the popular German books and works at that time.
Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799), Aisin Gioro Hongli loved tea very much, he said, “I as a king can’t live without tea in a day” and left around 300 tea poems and many tea stories. He praised the tea in Changle County, Hubei Province (today’s Wufeng tea) as “real immortal tea”. Emperor Qianlong was also the longest lived emperor in Chinese history and died at 88 years old. There is also a long-lived king in German history, William I, born in 1797 in Berlin, the capital of Prussia, he and his wife like drinking tea very much, especially Wuhan Hankou tea in Hubei Province, he lived 91 years. The longevity of the two kings must have something to do with drinking tea.
Good news for Chinese readers: this article has been published in the July 2020 <Tea Times 茶博览> tea magazine in Chinese,”中国汉口与德国汉堡的海上茶路” page 54-57. Read More
Since the 19th century, tea had rapidly replaced silk as the most important and bulk export commodity in China, in the case of Guangzhou (Canton), from 1817 to 1833, the annual average export of tea accounted for 51.1% of the total export value, accounting for 60.8% of the total export value of agricultural products in the same period. German firm Carlowitz & Co (Carlowitz), one of the most famous far east firms had been operating in Guangzhou in 1840’s, which located its headquarters in Hamburg. Another Hamburg firm Siemssen & Co. (Siemssen) opened in Guangzhou in 1846. After the first Opium War in 1842, with the opening of five newly opened treaty ports, Shanghai in the Yangtze River estuary was closest to the origin of tea, the main export goods. Tea from Fujian, Jiangxi and other regions was no longer transported to Guangzhou, but to the intermediate station of North-South sea transportation, Shanghai. Merchants from all countries flocked to Shanghai to increase the purchase of agricultural and sideline products such as tea. Siemsse settled in Shanghai in 1856, it is the first German-funded firm to open in Shanghai. As one of Germany’s largest foreign firms in China, C. Melchers GmbH & Co. (Melchers) from Bremen firstly set foot in China as early as the late Qing Dynasty and set its headquarters in Shanghai, Carlowitz and Siemssen entered Shanghai in 1877 and in 1846, and later Shanghai became the headquarters, all these provided conditions for Germany’s domestic supply of Chinese tea. The second Opium War took place in 1856-1860, China had opened 16 ports from coastal areas to the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, Hankou is located at the core of tea producing areas in Central China and on the golden waterway.