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Tea leaf selection

The highest grade white tea, yellow tea and green tea are made from tender tea shoots picked early Spring. These young tea shoots may consist of a single terminal bud, a bud with an adjacent leaf or a bud with two adjacent slightly unfurled leaves. It is generally required that the leaves are equal in length or shorter than the buds.

The more oxidised tea such as red tea or oolong tea () are made from more mature leaves. The Anxi Tieguanyin (), for example, is made from one bud with two to four leaves.

Not all high grade green tea is made from tender tea shoots. The highly regarded green tea Liu An Gua Pian is made from more matured leaves.

Traditionally these tender tea shoots are picked before 5 April, or Qing Ming Jie. The standard practice is to start picking when 5% of the garden is ready, or when the tea buds reach certain size. In some tea gardens, tea shoots are picked daily, or every 2 days.

Chinese tea history

Tea (Camellia sinensis) is native to China. The ancient Chinese used them for medical purposes, then developed the infusion we know as tea; to this day tea is said to purge the digestive system of ‘toxins’. Later the Chinese learned to grow tea plants and use their leaves to make various types of tea.

Many different types of tea were grown during each of the dynasties in China.

Tang Dynasty

A list of the differing grades of tea grown in the Tang Dynasty:

Premier Grade Tea: Xiazhou, Guangzhou, Huzhou, Yuezhou, Pengzhou.

Second Grade Tea: Jingzhou, Ranzhou, Changzhou, Mingzhou.

Third Grade Tea: Shouzhou, Hangzhou, Muzhou, Hengzhou, Taizhou, Xuanzhou, Yiazhou, Luzhou.

Fourth Grade Tea: Jinzhou, Lianzhou, Huangzhou, Sozhou, Yunzhou, Hanzhou, Meizhou.

Tea dates back to the West Zhou Period in ancient China, when the Chinese used tea as offerings. Since then, tea leaves have been eaten as vegetables, used as medicine, and, since the Han dynasty, infused in boiling water, the new drink making tea into a major commodity.

Song Dynasty

Tea was an important crop during the Song Dynasty. Tea farms covered 242 counties. This included expensive tribute tea; tea from Zhejiang and Fujian provinces, where some was exported to Southeast Asian and the Arab countries.

In the Song Dynasty, tea started to be pressed into tea cake, some embossed with patterns of the dragon and the Phoenix and was called exotic names including:

Large dragon tea cake

Large Dragon tea cake, Small Dragon tea cake, Surpass Snow Dragon ball cake, Fine Silver Sprout, Cloud Leaf, Gold Money, Jade Flower, Inch of Gold, Longevity Sprout, Eternal Spring Jade Leave, Dragon in the Clouds, Longevity Dragon Sprout, Dragon Phoenix and Flower, Eternal Spring Silver Sprout.

Ming Dynasty

Ming dynasty scholar Wen Zhenheng’s book Zhang Wu Zhi (On Superfluous Things) chapter 12 contains description of several famous Ming dynasty teas:

Tiger Hill Tea and Heaven Pool Tea

During this time Tiger Hill Tea (not to be confused with the “black” tea of the same name from the Nilgiris District in what is now Tamil Nadu in southeastern India) was purportedly developed as (still) the finest tea in the world, however, the production quantity was rather small, and growing is regulated by the Chinese government. Some, however, consider its taste to be second to Heaven Pool tea. Zhen Heng.[citation needed]

Jie Tea

Jie Tea () from Chang Xing in Zhejiang Province () is superb and highly regarded, though rather expensive.

NB: “Jie” is the short name for “Luo Jie” (). Luo Jie is the name of a mountain bordering Zhejiang and Jing Qi where, during the Ming dynasty, “jie” meant boundary. Chang Xin lay to the south of Luo Jie mountain while Jing Qi lay to the north of it. Chang Xin still retains its name today.

Luo yeye shi chou Jie tea from Gu Chu mountain in Chang Xing county in Zhejiang was also known as Gu Chu Voilet Shoot. Gu Chu Voilet Shoot had been imperial tribute tea since the Tang dynasty for nearly nine hundred years until the middle of the Qin dynasty. Gu Chu Voilet Shoot was revived again in the seventies as a top grade tea in China.

NB. Jin Qi is now called Yi Xin township. Jin Qi tea was also known as Yang Xian tea. Ruo Leaves are leaves from Indocalamus tessellatus bamboo. The leaf is about 45 cm long.

Liu An Tea

“Liu An” tea () is used for Chinese medicine, although if it is not baked right, it cannot let out its aroma and has a bitter taste. The inherent quality of this tea is actually quite good. Wen Zhenheng

This type of tea is especially suitable for people who are suffering from gastric problem.

Note: Liu An is a county in Anhui Province () in China. Liu An tea is still produced in Liu An county. The Liu An tea from the Bat Cave of Jin Zai () county is of superior quality, as thousand of bats in the cave can provide an ideal fertilizer for the tea plants.

Song Luo Tea

Song Luo tea is manufactured at Song Luo mountain located north of Xiu Ning township () in An Hui province () in China. The tea farms are scattered at an elevation of six to seven hundred meters on the mountain.

There is no real Song Luo tea grown outside an area of a dozen mu* and only one or two families possess the refined skill to prepare Song Luo tea. The tea hand-baked recently by mountain monks is even better.

Genuine Song Luo tea is produced at the foot of the Dong Shan (Cave Hill) and on top of the Tian Chi (Heaven Pool), highly treasured by people in Xin’an County. It is also a favorite for the people of Nan Du and Qu Zong counties, due to its ease in brewing and intense aroma.

One mu = 667 square meters.

Dragon Well Tea and Eyes on Heaven Tea

Long Jing tea () and Tian Mu () tea may match Heaven Pool tea due to the weather in their growing regions. Because the cold season comes earlier to the mountains, there is abundant snow in the winter, hence the tea plants germinate later. [Wen Zhenheng]

Long Jing tea is manufactured in the West Lake () district in Hangzhou city, China. There is a Longjing (Dragon Well) on the Feng Huang mountain (). Tian Mu mountain is located in Lin An county () in the north west of Zhejiang province (). There are two 1500-meter peaks, each with a pond on top filled with crystal clear water looking like an eye, hence the name of Eyes on Heaven.

Varieties

Green tea

White tea

Black tea

Oolong tea

Pu-erh tea

Yellow tea

Chrysanthemum tea

Jasmine tea

Kudin tea

Medicinal tea

Quick tea (Instant tea)

Films

2007 – All In This Tea. Co-directed by Les Blank and Gina Leibrecht.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: China tea

Chinese tea culture

History of tea in China

Tea Classics

Tea

References

The references in this article or section may not meet Wikipedia’s guidelines for reliable sources.

Please help by checking whether the references meet the criteria for reliable sources. Further discussion may be found on the talk page.

^ Amazing-Green-Tea.com, “”The Chinese Green Tea Crown Jewel””. http://www.amazing-green-tea.com/chinese-green-tea.html. , www.amazing-green-tea.com

Netsons.org “The History of Chinese Tea”

About.com “Chinese Tea Drinking”

Wen Zhen Heng: On Superfluous Things, Zhang Wu Zhi

Translated by Gisling from Wen Zhenheng: Zhang Wu Zhi

v d e

Tea

Types of tea

Black tea  Blended and flavored teas  Green tea  Oolong tea  Post-fermented tea  White tea  Yellow tea   Kukicha

Tea beverages

Bubble tea  Iced tea  Lei cha  Jagertee  Masala chai  Teh tarik  Thai tea  Teh botol  Butter tea

Tea culture

American  British  Chinese  Hong Kong  Indian  Japanese  Korean  Moroccan  Nepalese  Russian  Taiwanese  Sri Lanka   Turkish  Vietnamese

Other

Tea bag  Tea brick  Tea consumption  Tea garden  Tea house  Teapot  Tea tasting  Health effects of tea

Further Reading

Evans, John C., Tea in China: The History of China’s National Drink. Contributions to the Study of World History, Number 33. Greenwood Press: New York; Westport, Connecticut; London, 1992. ISSN: 0885-9159, ISBN: 0-313-28049-5.

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So, you are looking to learn Chinese quick, but have had no idea where to start. Maybe you have considered taking a class, or teaching yourself from a book you purchased, or possibly learning through a program you saw online, but you aren’t sure what the best approach would be and would rather not spend your time and money without getting a little guidance and doing some research first. Well in this article I will break down the various approaches to learning Chinese, discuss which are the most time effective, and which are the most effective systems to learn Chinese period (although they may not be the most time efficient.)

The first option that I see many people try first is to purchase a textbook, Chinese-English dictionary, or some other “Learn Chinese” book from the local bookstore. The appeal of this system is that you can work at your own pace, and these books are typically far cheaper than taking a class or online course. The downside is that this method will not help you learn Chinese quick (typically takes forever) and your pronunciation will likely end up being horrible due to not actually hearing the word spoken correctly.

The second option is to take a class. This has the benefit of providing you with actual exposure to the language as it is spoken, with a teacher to correct you if you mispronounce the words. The downside to this option is cost (the most expensive option by far) and time. It is not time-sensitive as it will require you to attend class regularly, taking time out of your day in order to take the class. Also, you will not be able to proceed at your own pace.

The third option is to purchase and use a program. These programs typically come in a kind of kit with flash cards, computer games, CDs or computer programs that speak the words to you so that you can get the pronunciation right, and examples of conversational Chinese. In my opinion this is the most effective approach, with the benefits including learning Chinese quick, going at your own pace, cost effective (more than a book, but cheaper than a class), and it does pronounce the words to you so that you are not lacking in the pronunciation of your Chinese.

For the best option to learn Chinese quick, I recommend Rocket Chinese, one of the best of the programs I mentioned above.

This is the first of several videos in which Lisa VanDamme shares her thoughts about the Wall Street Journal Article “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.” In this video, Miss VanDamme implores listeners to consider the question on which the whole issue depends: By what standard do we say a child is “successful”?