China is the homeland of Chinese tea. Tea from China, along with silk and porcelain, became known to the world over a thousand years ago and is today one of China’s most valuable exports. The Japanese adopted the habit of drinking tea in the 6th century, but it was not introduced to Europe and America until the 17th and 18th centuries.
According to legend, in 2737 BC, the Chinese emperor Shen Nung was sitting beneath a tree, while his servant boiled drinking water, when some leaves from the tree blew into the water. It is impossible to know whether there is any truth in this story, but drinking tea has been a part of Chinese culture for many centuries. In 800 A.D. a writer named Lu Yu, known as the tea sage, wrote the Tea Classic. It was shortly after this that tea was first introduced to Japan by Japanese Buddhist monks who had traveled to China to study.
People throughout China drink tea daily because of its healthful properties. Various kinds of tea are grown in the vastly differing geographic locations and climatesof China. Chinese teas generally fit into five classifications.
Green tea is a very lightly fermented (dried) tea that keeps its original color during processing. This category consists mainly of Longjing tea of Zhejiang Province, Maofeng of Huangshan Mountain in Anhui Province and Biluochun produced in Jiangsu.
Note: The term fermentation when applied to tea is something of a misnomer, as the term actually refers to how much a tea is allowed to dry. The drying may be stopped byeither pan frying, baking or steaming the leaves before they are completely dried.
Black tea, known as red tea (Hong Cha) in China, is fermented before baking. It is a later variety developed from green tea. The best brands of black tea are Qihong of Anhui, Dianhong of Yunnan Suhong of Jiangsu, Chuanhong of Sichuan and Huhong of Hunan
This is a variety between the green and black teas, and is partially fermented. It is a specialty from the provinces on China’s southeast coast, Fujian Guangdong and Taiwan.
This tea is compressed and hardenedintoshapes, usually a brick,but sometimes formed into cakes or shaped into a bowl. It is easy to transport and store and is mainly used by the ethnic minority peoples. Compressed tea is black in color, and is known as “black tea” or “brick tea”. It is mainly produced in Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.
This kind of tea is processed by mixing fragrant flowers with tea leaves. The flowers most commonly used for this purpose are jasmine and magnolia. Jasmine tea is a well-known favorite with residents of northern China and with a growing number of foreigners.
Chinese people believe a good cup of tea is made from a combination of high quality tea leaves and water, brewed in fine tea ware. Normally, the finest tea is grown at altitudes of 3,000 to 7,000 feet (910 to 2,124m). Pure, sweet water, whether from a spring or rain and snow water, is the best for making tea. The most favorable tea ware is purple clay pottery made in the Yixing Area (Jiangsu province), and porcelain wares from Jingdezhen (Jiangxi province).
The tea ceremony, with its four basic principles of harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility, plays an important part in Chinese life. It is a way to focus mental energies, relax, and enjoy an ancient tradition. Serving Chinese tea is done in such a way to show courtesy and respect to a guest, and tea is offered immediately to a guest in a Chinese home. There are many customs associated with the tea ceremony, but no matter the style used in serving, it is always done in a way to show consideration and respect to the guest, and emphasize the beauty and symbolism of the service.
Here is a China Tea tour designed to capture the essence China’s tea culture combined with rich natural and cultural attractions. You will visit regions of China famous for Oolong and Dragon Well green tea as well as tour historic sites in Beijing and Shanghai.
Day 1 Arrive in Beijing
Depart on your flight bound for Beijing, the capital of People’s Republic of China. Upon your arrival, you will be met and transferred to the hotel.
Day 2: Beijing
Full-day tour will begin at the magnificent Forbidden City, home to emperors for over 500-years. Strolling through Tiananmen Square, which is the largest square in the world. Continue to witness the splendor of the Summer Palace,built as a royal garden for Qing Dynasty Emperors. This evening, you are invited to a Peking duck banquet.
Day 3: Beijing
A full-day tour will take in the grandeur of the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Great Wall, built more than 2000 years ago to protect China from northern invaders. On the way back to Beijing stop and visit the sacred Ming Tombs, where 13 emperors of Ming Dynasty were buried. Enjoy a spectacular Chinese Kongfu performance in the evening.
Day 4: Beijing
Visit the famous Beihai Park and walk leisurely through the old Hutong area. Tonight you are invited to enjoy the local cultural performances at Lao She Teahouse.
Day 5: Beijing – Wuyi Mountain
After breakfast, admire the beauty of The Temple of Heaven where the Chinese emperors prayed for good harvest in ancient days. Enjoy shopping in the Wangfujing Street. Transfer to the airport and fly to Wuyi Mountain, the birthplace of Oolong Tea. Arrival and check in the local hotel.
Day 6: Wuyi Mountain
Enjoy the tour to the famous “Thread in the Sky” crevasse, the “Cloud’s Lair” mountain over-look and the secluded Ming Dynasty “Rock Tea” garden known as Da Hong Pao (“Big Red Robe”). The highlights of our trip also include the visit to the local Oolong Tea gardens and bamboo rafting through the amazing rock formations along the banks of the Nine-Bends River.
Day 7: Wuyi Mountain
Today you will visit the tea hill where you will pick tea leaves and taste the fresh local tea.
Day 8: Wuyi Mountain – Fuzhou
You will be transferred to the airport and fly to Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian Province. Arrival and visit the famous Yong Quan Temple (Gushing Spring Temple). Check in the local hotel tonight.
Day 9: Fuzhou – Hangzhou
Continue your trip to the hometown of the most famous Dragon Well Tea, Hangzhou. Arrival and visit the local tea farming village where you will follow the traditional frying tea process to choose and fry tea leaves yourself! Check in the local hotel tonight.
Day 10: Hangzhou
Relax on a wonderful cruise of China’s most famous Lake, West Lake; it is symbol of Hangzhou as well as one of the most beautiful sights in China. Then visit the Six Harmonies Pagoda. Ascending to the top of the pagoda and looking down, you will have a panoramic view of the beauty of the Qiantang River, feeling as if “standing above the highest level of the sky”.
Day 11: Hangzhou / Shanghai
In this morning, you will travel to Shanghai, the biggest city of China. Arrival and visit the Yuyuan Garden surrounded by the vast numbers of the shops, rest up at the local Tea House. Check in your hotel in the evening.
Day 12: Shanghai
Visit the world famous waterfront – The Bund. It was once part of the foreign concessions and out-of-bounds to locals. Then explore the magnificent Nanjing Road and the Jade Buddha Temple that is famous for its Jade Buddha. After dinner, proceed for a city tour to Pudong New District – Shanghai’s main financial district and enjoy a scenic night cruise on Huangpu River.
Day 13: Depart
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your homeward flight and complete the most exciting China tea tour.
For more information, please contact China Connection Tours!
Source by Eric Duff