China's tea history dates back over 5,000 years. Chinese legend states that the Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea when the leaves of a wild tree blew into his pot of boiling water. He was instantly pleased with the pleasant aroma of the brew and named the brew "cha", the Chinese character for tea that means to check or investigate.
In 200 B.C. a Han Dynasty Emperor ruled that tea would be represented by a special character illustrating wooden branches, grass, and a man between them. It was used to symbolize how tea brought humankind into balance with nature in Chinese culture.
China's tea popularity grew through the 8th century. It was no longer just used for its medicinal properties anymore. It began to be enjoyed for pleasure and for the refreshing properties it provides. This made China tea merchants rich. Tea became a luxury only the rich could afford as well as the elegant tea ware.
By the mid-17th century tea growers discovered how to preserve tea leaves during a special fermentation process. Turning green leaves black preserved their flavor and made it easier to export.
Tea is still a big part of Chinese culture and a symbol of the country's history, culture and religion. Today there are a variety of China teas green, black, white, and the very popular oolong teas which are considered some the best oolong teas available.
White tea has a unique processing technique that dates back 200 years. It involves one of the simplest, yet most difficult steps to master. Freshly picked leaves and buds are wilted under shade to loosen moisture from the leaves, then they are exposed to the sun for fermentation and drying. The leaves are then finished by baking to dry with charcoal ash on bamboo trays, but if the sun is strong enough, the tea leaves are left to dry in the sun. Tea masters are mindful and adjust the leaves to catch the sun at the right angle while allowing wind to blow underneath the leaves to cool them down.
One of China's most famous white tea is Bai Hao Yin Zhen also known as Yin Zhen Silver Needle. This is the highest picking of grade of white tea and produced from specific locations. Its true origins are Fu Ding and Zhen He. It is an exceptional tea with floral notes of honeysuckle and a hint of white grapes.
Thousands of Americans are including tea in their daily routine as a healthier alternative to coffee and, soft drinks. What started as a medicinal cure hundreds of years ago has now become a healthy beverage to help in the fight against certain cancers, Alzheimer's and other ailments.
Peace, Love & Tea