China has a long history of drinking tea and developed profound tea culture. As one of the most important traditions in China, tea plays a vital role in daily life of Chinese people. The Chinese saying “Firewood, rice, oil, salt, sauce, vinegar and tea are the seven necessities to begin a day.” tells the importance of tea in people’s life.
China is home to tea. It is the first country to discover tea plants in the world, as early as 5000 years ago by Shennong, who was the first Chinese herbal doctor. Also China is the first country to cultivate tea plants, at about 2000 years ago. Chinese became known to the world when it was exported outside China via the ancient Silk Road along with silk and porcelain. Later tea was introduced to countries like Japan, America, and also Europe. Now tea as one of the three major beverages in the world, which includes tea, coffee and cocoa, it has the number of consumers.
During the thousands years’ of drinking tea, China has developed a strong and profound tea culture. Chinese tea culture generally including the preparation of tea, tea making, serving and tasting, tea art, and tea customs and ceremony. In Chinese tea culture, drinking tea is more inclined to tasting tea. To taste and savor. In terms of tea art, the environment, atmosphere, infusing techniques are related. The lore of tea has the highest level in Chinese tea culture when philosophy, ethnics and morality are blended into tea activity.
Chinese tea is classified into different types according to the way leaves are prepared and processed. There are six categories of Chinese tea, including green tea, black tea (also known as red tea), wulong tea, white tea, yellow tea, and reprocessed tea.Some of the most famous and popular Chinese tea including Puerh, Junshan Yinzhen, Iron Goddness tea, Biluochun, and etc. Among the green tea, one of the most distinguished variety is Longjing tea. Longjing tea, literally translated into Dragon Well tea, is one of the most famous and popular tea in China.
Characterized with the four outstanding features of emerald green color, sweet taste, pleasant fragrance, and beautiful unique appearance, along with its great healthy benefits, Longjing tea has been favored by many tea drinkers. The main production area of Longjing tea are around West Lake area in Hangzhou where the climate is mild and rainfall is plenty. Longjing tea has several varieties and the best being the Mingqian Variety, which is when the tea leaves are picked before the Chinese Qingming Festival before or around April 5 each year. Other varieties include Xihu Longjing, Shifeng Longjing, Meijiawu Longjing, Lion Longjing, and so on.
To enjoy a best cup of Longjing tea, the preparation of the tea is quite important. Longjing tea can be brewed in porcelain or glass, but the best is made in Yixing clay teapots, which is also called Purple Sand tea pots. When making Longjing tea, the temperature should be around 75-80 °C or 167-176 °F and it is said that water from Hupao Spring in Hangzhou, which is also called Running Tiger Spring, is considered the best. It is followed by water from the Leng Spring also in Zhejiang and lastly the Hui Spring in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.
For tourists traveling to Hangzhou should never miss out trying the great Longjing tea. Also if visit tea cultural villages like Longjing Village or Meijiawu Tea Plantation, tourists can get to know the history and culture of tea, and also experience tea picking with local tea farmers.