China, in addition to being the homeland to the Han people and fifty-five other ethnic groups, is also the birth place for one of the world’s most consumed beverage- tea. Tea plants originated in China and were first used for medicinal purposes. It is believed that tea plants have been in existence in China for six thousand years already. Two thousand years ago, tea was developed as a drink. Since then, the Chinese learned to grow tea plants and to use the leaves as various types of tea that we drink today. Chinese tea leaves can be separated into five categories, green tea, black tea, oolong tea, scented tea, and compressed tea.
Of the five categories of tea, green tea is probably the most well-known. It is an unfermented tea. Because green tea is not fermented, its tea leaves maintain its original and natural color. Some well known green tea include Longjing tea from Hangzhou’s West Lake region, Biluochun tea from Jiangsu, Maofeng tea from the Huangshan Mountains of Anhui Province, and Liu’an Guopian tea from Liu’an County of Anhui Province. The black tea, unlike what its name indicates, is actually red. In Chinese, it is pronounced as “hong cha”, which literally means the red tea. Unlike the green tea, it is fermented. Famous black tea includes keemua tea from Anhui Province and Dian black tea from Yunnan Province. Next is the oolong tea. It is half fermented. Its tea leaves, being loose and thick, are in shades of golden yellow. The most favored oolong tea is bohea tea, which is produced within the Fujian Province’s Wuyi Mountains. Other oolong tea may come from Guangdong and Taiwan. The fourth variety is the scented tea. It is found only in China. Scented tea is created by smoking tea leaves with fragrant flowers. Examples of such fragrant flowers are jasmine and magnolia. Of all scented tea, the jasmine tae, produced in Fujian Province, is most famous. Jasmine tea is also most popular with northern Chinese and foreigners. Lastly is the compressed tea, which is compressed and hardened into a certain shape. Compressed tea is suitable for storage and for transportation; thus it is mainly shipped to minority groups living in the border regions of China. Compressed tea can be separated into the tuo tea and the brick tea. The tuo tea is a bowl shaped compressed mass of tea leaves, produced in Yunnan and Sichuan. The brick tea is shaped similar to the shape of a brick. This type of tea is a favorite amongst the Mongolians and Tibetans. Today, tea has grown to become a daily necessity for Chinese people. In fact, it has become a way of way. Tea drinking can promote a healthier lifestyle and the chemical compounds found in certain tea, such as the green tea, have been discovered to inhibit growth of cancer cells. Since the thousand of years in which Chinese tea has been consumed, tea drinking is only becoming more and more popular in today’s society.