Drinking tea is a part of the Chinese culture for thousands of years. According to the legend, the emperor Shen-Nong 神农 together with the Yellow Emperor discovered tea. When one day leaves of a bush of the palace garden fell in Shen Nong’s drinking water, the water turned into a golden brown liquid and the emperor drank the beverage which gave a sweet flavored taste. 3000 years ago, Chinese boiled the drinking water and flavored it with herbal additives by the Boiled Tea Method 煮茶法.
History shows that there was already a tax on tea in the year 221 v. Chr. during the Qin Dynasty. Tea was then primarily used as a medicine. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907) it was increasingly drunk as tea beverages using the Fired Tea Method 煎茶法 at the imperial court (Photo-1 “Tang Palace Musicians 唐人宫乐图”) and thus introduced into the upper class. During this time, monks in Buddhist monasteries began drinking tea during their often long hours meditations in order to stay awake. It’s also true that the monks every morning drank tea and flushed their mouth as they had no toothbrushes, since the tea had a purifying and refreshing effect. This behavior is said to have been first introduced in the Yang Ling Monastery on Mount. Tai and have spread from there to other monasteries. After some time, the monks began to cultivate tea, the world’s first book on tea was written <the the classic of tea 茶经> by Lu Yu 陆羽 (733—804), who grew up as an orphan in a Buddhist monastery, his nickname “The Saint of Tea”.
In the Song Dynasty, most upper class families enjoyed 龙凤团茶 [lóng fèng tuán chá] tea cakes with dragon and phoenix patterns and Tea- Competitions 斗茶 (Photo-2 “Tea fights 斗茶图”) became polular, in order to determine the best teas in the country. At the same time the art of making tea has been developed by the Whisked Tea Method 点茶法 (Photo-3 “Grinding Tea 撵茶图” by Liu Songnian 刘松年 1155-1218). The book written by Zhao Ji 赵佶 (1082-1135) – the 8th Emperor of Song reign, <Treatise on Tea 大观茶论> described the mainstream of tea ceremonies at that time. In the Yuan Dynasty, this method spread throughout the population.
During the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Quan, the 17th son of Ming Emperor Hongwu, who led a reclusive life as a hermit, then founded a new school of tea ceremony, the Infused Tea Method 撮泡法 (Photo-4 “taste tea under banana leaves’ shadow 蕉阴品茗图” Lv Huancheng 吕焕成 (1630 -1705). The book written by Xu Cishu 许次纾 (1549-1604), <Tea Commentary 茶疏> focued on tea artistic conceptions, and <Tea Theory 茶说> laid the the foundation of tea organoleptic evaluation in 1615 from Huang Longde 黄龙德 (late Qing reign).
Therefore, the experts of Chinese tea culture distinguish four historical schools of tea ceremony 茶道 [chá dào]: Boiled Tea Method 煮茶法 [zhǔ chá fǎ]. In the Tang period the tea was boiled along with the water until the water took the right color, wherein fired and grinded tea was used. Since this tea liquid was added a pinch of salt, this method is also called “school of salted Pulvertees” Fired Tea Method 煎茶法 [jiān chá fǎ]. During the Song Dynasty, the art of tea has been refined, the tea powder should be infused with hot water and beat up with a bamboo whisk until frothy, a master work was that foams remained as long as possible. This method is called the “School of the foamed Jade” Whisked Tea Method 点茶法 [diǎn chá fǎ]. In the Ming period, dry tea leaves were directly used to pour hot water on, this period is called the “School of the fragrant leaf” Infused Tea Method 撮泡法 [cuō pào fǎ] (Photo-6 Xu Wei‘s 徐渭 1521-1593 poem – <Seven Categories of Making Tea 煎茶七类>), this method is very similar to methods nowadays.