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Ancient China: The Birthplace of Tea

History of Tea: Chinese Symbol for Tea, Ch’aThe history of tea dates back to ancient China, nearly 5,000 years ago. According to legend, in 2732 BC Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea when the leaves of a wild tree flew into his pot of boiling water. He was immediately interested in the pleasant aroma of the resulting brew and drank some of it.According to legend, the emperor described a warm feeling as he drank the mesmerizing brew, as if the liquid were examining every part of his body.

Shen Nung called the brew “ch’a,” the Chinese character meaning “to examine” or “to investigate. In the year 200 BC A Han Dynasty emperor decided that when referring to tea, a special character should be used, depicting branches of wood, grass, and a man between the two. This character, also pronounced “ch’a”, symbolized the way in which tea brought people and nature into harmony in Chinese culture.

History of Tea in China

The popularity of tea in China continued to increase rapidly from the 4th century to the 8th century. Tea was no longer used solely for its medicinal properties, but was valued for everyday enjoyment and freshness. Tea plantations spread across China, tea traders became wealthy, and expensive and elegant tea products became the banner of wealth and status for their owners.

The Chinese Empire strictly controlled the preparation and cultivation of the harvest.It was even stipulated that only young women should handle the tea leaves, presumably because of their purity. These manipulative young women were not allowed to eat garlic, onions, or strong spices if the smell of their fingers might contaminate the precious tea leaves.

The Invention of Black Tea
Until the middle of the 17th century, all Chinese tea was green tea. However, as foreign trade increased, Chinese growers discovered they could preserve tea leaves using a special fermentation process. The resulting black tea retained its flavor and aroma longer than more delicate green teas and was better equipped for export voyages to other countries.Tea in Modern China
Tea has been an integral part of Chinese culture for thousands of years; It was popular before the Egyptians built the great pyramids and was traded with Asian countries even before Europe left the Middle Ages. The importance and popularity of tea in China continues to this day and has become a symbol of the country’s history, religion and culture.

Today, students vie to attend the very exquisite and exceptional Shanghai Tea Institute. Top-level students must play the traditional guzheng stringed instrument, perform a perfect tea ceremony, speak a foreign language to entertain foreign guests, and distinguish between around 1,000 different types of Chinese tea.. to date, fewer than 75 students have earned a certificate in tea art.There is also an entire amusement park called Tenfu Tea Museum, the Chinese equivalent of Disneyland in
, which honors the Chinese traditions of tea drinking.

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