If there is one race who best understands tea, it would have to be the Chinese. No other nation has come close to the way the Chinese prepare, consume, and appreciate the brew.
The history of tea, however, is quite a long one. You would have to travel millennia back in time just to understand how tea came to be China’s national drink.
Chinese legend has it that an early emperor named Shennong discovered the drink. The emperor liked his water boiled, which is what his servants did while they were on a trip. While the water was boiling, a leaf fell into the pot, which browned the mixture. The emperor drank it anyway, which made him discover the fresh, unique sensation that comes from drinking tea.
Folklore aside, the first dated use of tea was during the Zhou dynasty, wherein it was used as a medicinal plant to keep people awake. The trend continued until the Han dynasty.
Come the Sui and Tang dynasties, tea became a beverage everyone loved. It was also used as a trade product with the Mongolians.
The Song dynasty discovered different tea species during its time. The period also paved the way for different social tea houses. Historians also claim that it was during the Song dynasty when the Chinese have influenced the Japanese with the love for tea, hence the existence of Japanese tea ceremonies.
Soon after, the Ming and Qing dynasties began. During this time, different flavours such as green, black, Oolong, and flower were already quite popular. The Chinese also earned the freedom to plant tea trees wherever they want, which popularised the brew even more.
Today, tea remains as an integral part of the Chinese culture. The influence has spread outside the country. Peng-You.com.au notes how popular Chinese restaurants around the world serve tea, some of which do so the traditional way.
Innovation has also graced the world of serving and drinking tea. It turns out that milk is a good combination with the beverage, eventually paving the way for modern milk tea recipes popular in Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore.
To say that China knows tea is quite an understatement. After all, the country has lived through millennia with the drink whilst the rest of the world is only beginning to appreciate its aroma, freshness, and flavour.