Updated: Oct 21
Tea culture can be traced back as far back as before 2000 BC and the Qin dynasty. First
discovered by Shennong Emperor of Han dynasty, drinking tea became a tradition that is still popular till today.
During the 8th century in the Tang dynasty, when Lu Yu finished writing The Classic of Tea (Cha Jing), tea culture spread throughout China. The Classic of Tea was written in ten chapters on three scrolls, the oldest known guide to tea drinking and culture. For his contribution towards Chinese tea culture, Lu Yu was later respected as the Sage of Tea.
Lu Yu attributed medicinal qualities to tea while at the same time alcoholic beverages were becoming less favored for their intoxicating qualities. Drinking tea quickly became popular throughout the people and society, and even used in religious rituals and offerings.
According to The Classic of Tea, 28 utensils including teapots and bowls were used in preparing the tea, following a complex flow of procedures. Tea leaves were steamed in a steamer first. The leaves were then grounded using a mortar and shaped into a cake before being dried and strung with reed or bamboo. Finally, the tea was grounded and cooked in a brazier before drinking in a tea bowl.
While the appreciation of tea grew over the years, the making of tea also evolved throughout the centuries.
Steeping of tea became the dominant tea preparation during the Ming dynasty especially when Zhu Quan, Prince Ning, the 17th son of Emperor Hongwu, wrote Tea Manual (Cha Pu). It was believed that this literati began a new era for tea culture in China as preparing tea by steeping method for loose tea leaves advocated a simpler way for enjoying tea.
The use of loose tea leaves continued to evolve in the Qing dynasty and became the norm till today.
Tea culture differs in different countries, so does tea preparations. In our next blog, we’ll explore the different tea preparations from different continents! So stay tuned!