The Chinese Tea Culture

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Tea has existed as a beverage since 2000 b.c. The brewing, serving, and drinking of tea are time-honored rituals throughout the world. While there is general agreement that the tea trade began in China, both China and India lay claim to discovering the dietary properties of tea leaves. The Chinese tell the story of a mythical emperor named Shen Nung who was so particular about his nutrition that he boiled his drinking water before he drank it. One day, the story goes, the wind caught some of the leaves on the tree branches that he had used to build a fire. The leaves floated into his boiling water and, lo, tea was created. In India, the discovery is attributed to Bodhidharma, an actual person who founded the Ch-an School of Buddhism. In a.d.…show more content…
Chinese documents record it as indigenous to the Hunan province in southwest China. In modern times, it is generally accepted that the original tea bush grew in India and was brought to China. It thrives in a rocky terrain. In approximately a.d. 350, tea cultivation was also reported in the Szechwan province along the Yangtze River. During the T'ang Dynasty in the eighth century, tea drinking achieved the status of an art form. Tea merchants hired a man named Lu Yu to compile the first written record of Chinese tea ceremonies. Entitled Ch'a Ching (The Class of Tea), the three-volume work revolutionized the tea industry. The second volume includes an exhaustive list of the equipment necessary to brew tea correctly; all-told, 24 items are listed. In the 12th century, monks from the Zen sect of Buddhists brought the tea-brewing process home to Japan from their travels in China. Yeisei, a Buddhist abbot, is credited with writing Japan's first tea book: Kitcha-Yojoki (Book of Tea Sanitation). Since then, Zen Buddhism and tea have grown…show more content…
One of them was Giambattista Ramusio, an editor of travel books and a diplomatic representative of the Venetian government. Gaspar da Cruz, a Portuguese Jesuit priest and missionary, also brought tea when he returned. In 1520, Ferdinand Magellan discovered the straits that now bear his name around the southern tip of South America and opened the door to a what would become a well-traveled westward trade route between Europe and the Orient. Holland was the first to record the purchase of tea in 1607. The tea was first sold at apothecary shops, then in stores where spices and sugar were sold. By the 18th century, stores devoted entirely to the sale of tea and coffee had opened. The first tea sold to the English public occurred in 1657 at a coffee house called Exchange Alley. When King Charles HI married the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza in 1661, her dowry included tea. Fifty-five years later, on October 12, 1712, Thomas Twining opened England's first tea

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