Tea Culture

Tea is an important part of Chinese tradition. As Chinese society developed and progressed, tea production has played a role in driving economic development while tea consumption has remained a practice of daily life.

The practice of tea culture can bring the spirit and wisdom of human beings to a higher orbit. Tea has an extremely close relationship to Chinese culture, and its study covers a wide field and has very rich content. It not only embodies the spirit of civilization, but also the spirit of ideological form. There can be no doubt that it has been beneficial in enhancing people's social accomplishments and appreciation of art.


History of Chinese Tea

The history of Chinese tea is a long and gradual story of refinement. Generations of growers and producers have perfected the Chinese way of manufacturing tea, and its many unique regional variations.

The original idea is credited to the legendary Emperor Shennong, who is said to have lived 5 000 years ago. His far-sighted edicts required, among other things, that all drinking water be boiled as a hygienic precaution. A story goes that, one summer day, while visiting a distant part of his realm, he and the court stopped to rest. In accordance with his ruling, the servants began to boil water for the court to drink. Dried leaves from a nearby bush fell into the boiling water, and a brown substance was infused into the water. As a scientist, the Emperor was interested in the new liquid, drank some, and found it very refreshing. And so, according to legend, tea was created in 2737 BC.

Chinese Tea Types

The main varieties of Chinese tea are classified as green tea, black tea,  Oolong tea, white tea, yellow tea, and dark tea. 


Chinese Tea Culrure

Drinking tea:Tea is taken as a beverage to quench thirst.

Tasting tea: The quality of the tea is judged by the color, fragrance and flavor of the tea, the water quality and even the tea set. When tasting tea, the taster should be able to savor the tea thoroughly.

Tea art: While drinking attention is paid to environment, atmosphere, music, infusing techniques and interpersonal relationships.

The highest ambit-- tea lore : Philosophy, ethics and morality are blended into tea activity. People cultivate their morality and mind, and savor life through tasting tea, thereby attaining joy of spirit.

Chinese tea lore is several hundred years, possibly even thousands of years, older than that of Japan. It is said that Chinese tea lore places an emphasis on spirit and makes light of form. Tea lore had different representations at different historical periods. Teas are also various, but all embody the tea spirit of “clearness, respect, joy and truthfulness”.


Tips of Effective Tea Drinking

Drinking tea offers numerous benefits. It refreshes the mind, clears heat within the human body and helps people lose weight. As you add a cup of tea to your daily routine, please check the following tips which help you reap the maximum health benefits.

1. Drink it hot. Tea oxidizes quickly after brewing, and its nutrients diminish overtime. It is suggested that you drink it hot to get the best out of tea.

2. Do not drink too much strong tea. It is likely to upset your stomach and cause insomnia if you make the tea too strong. Usually you can mix 4 grams (0.13 ounce) of tea leaves with 250 milliliters (0.44 pint) to make a cup of tea. An overall amount of 12 - 15 grams (0.4 - 0.5 ounces) of tea leaves is suitable for daily consumption.

3. The best time to drink is in between meals. Do not drink tea soon after or before meals. Otherwise it may quench appetite when your stomach is empty, or cause indigestion when your stomach is full.

4. Do not drink with medication. Tea contains large amount of Tannin, which will react with certain elements in the medicine, thus reduce medical effects. You can drink tea a couple of hours after you take medicine.

5. Green tea is the best option for office workers. Green tea contains catechins that help prevent computer radiation and supplement moisture content of the human body.

China’s Top Tea Culture Cities

China's top tea culture cities fall into two categories: those that have famous tea-growing areas nearby, and those which have a history and culture of tea-drinking (some are both).

Tea drinking is popular all over China and different areas have their favorite types, but the top seven cities listed here represent the cream of China's favorite tea production areas.

1. Hangzhou

The Chinese Tea Museum in Hangzhou has many world class exhibits.
  • Location: Zhejiang Province, East China
  • Famous tea: Dragon Well
  • Tea type: green tea

Many sources agree that China's top-rated tea is West Lake Dragon Well Tea (Xi Hu Longjing, 西湖龙井), grown on the hills around West Lake, southwest of Hangzhou City. With its history as an imperial capital and also as a place of vacation for Beijing's emperors, China's best tea has been enjoyed in style in Hangzhou for well over 1,000 years.


2. Suzhou

Enjoy tea in a picturesque Suzhou water town.
  • Location: Jiangsu Province, East China
  • Famous tea: Green Spiral
  • Tea type: green tea

A popular choice for China's second favorite imperial tea is Suzhou's Green Spiral Tea (Dongting Bi Luo Chun, 洞庭碧螺春). Like Hangzhou, Suzhou was an imperial retreat for Beijing's elite. Suzhou's ornate gardens were doubtless the setting for many a classy "cuppa" over the centuries.

3. Huangshan

A tea plantation
  • Location: Anhui Province, Central East China
  • Famous teas: Yellow Mountain Furry Tip, Keemun Black, Yellow Mountain Tribute
  • Tea types: black tea,  flower tea

Huangshan is one of the famous tea culture cities in China. The mythical Yellow Emperor, who, it is said, once lived in Huangshan and who gave his name to the enchantingly-scenic Yellow Mountains, was traditionally a friend of Emperor Shennong (the 'Divine Farmer'). Shennong is said to have discovered tea when some tea leaves fell into a pot of water his servant was boiling for drinking.

One of China's top five teas is Huangshan Furry Tip (Huangshan Maofeng, 黄山毛峰), so named for its furry leaves. Another top ten tea is Keemun Black (Qimen Hongcha, 祁门红茶), a black tea also grown in Huangshan Prefecture. The best chrysanthemum tea is also from Huangshan, and is called Yellow Mountain Tribute Chrysanthemum (Huangshan Gongju, 黄山贡菊).

4. Chengdu

Tea ceremony performance in Chengdu
  • Location: Sichuan Province, Central China
  • Famous tea: Ya'an pressed dark tea
  • Tea type: reprocessed tea

Chengdu is also a popular place for drinking tea. The particularly relaxed atmosphere of this city is demonstrated by residents who spend large periods of time in the tea gardens of parks, sipping tea while playing chess, mahjong or cards, reading the paper, or just chatting with friends.

Ya'an, on the Sichuan end of the Ancient Tea Hourse Road, is only 120 kilometers southwest of Chengdu. It has a history of tea production dating back 2,000 years. From Ya'an, bricks of dark tea were carried by horseback to Tibet and further afield. 

5. Xishuangbanna

Yunnan Pu'er tea
  • Location: south Yunnan Province, South China
  • Famous tea: Pu’er tea (Yunnan Pu'er, 云南普洱)
  • Tea type: post-fermented/dark tea/pressed tea

Xishuangbanna is one of the Yunnan endpoints of the Ancient Tea Horse Road and is still a major tea-growing area. From there, pressed tea was carried by horseback to Tibet, India, and Nepal. The tropical forested hills of Xishuangbanna are where the Dai people produce some of the best Pu’er tea, which is pressed into a variety of wheels, bricks, etc.

Pu’er, the next major stop after Xishuangbanna, was where tea was traded and it gave its name to this famous type of dark pressed tea, although most prefectures in Yunnan, including Xishuangbanna, produce Pu’er tea. Pu’er tea should be tried as it is different to the generally delicate flavors of Chinese tea. It has a rustic woody taste, and is soothing and reminiscent of a minority culture.

6. Wuhan

  • Location: Hubei Province, Central China
  • Famous tea: Silver Needle (nearby in Hunan Province)
  • Tea type: yellow tea

Wuhan is a city with an ancient history. It occupies a uniquely central position for transport with the Yangtzeflowing west–east and land transport bridging the Yangtze River from north–south. 

Wuhan is famous more as a place for drinking tea, with its many tea houses, than for growing tea, although there is a famous tea-growing area 200 kilometers (130 miles) southwest in Junshan, Hunan Province. Junshan Silver Needle (Junshan Yin Zhen 君山银针) has been ranked among China's top ten teas in some versions of the imperial list. Yellow was the imperial color and Silver Needle is a yellow tea.

7. Quanzhou

Anxi Tie Guanyin
  • Location: Fujian Province, Southeast China
  • Famous teas: Iron Goddess, Fujian jasmine tea
  • Tea types: oolong tea, flower tea

Iron Goddess tea (Anxi Tie Guanyin 安溪铁观音) probably holds the bronze medal position among China's teas. It is an oolong (Wulong) tea with a fresh and mellow taste — a favorite for summer drinking.

Anxi, where Iron Goddess is grown, is about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Quanzhou City, in Quanzhou Prefecture. Quanzhou is a large city (more than 6 million inhabitants) on the Fujian coast. Nearby Xiamen is the most famous tourist city in Fujian.

Jasmine tea, Beijing's favorite, uses jasmine flowers mixed with green tea. The best jasmine tea is produced in Fujian Province. 

Other Tea Cities


Milk tea

Located in the east of Guangdong Province, Chaoshan (or Teochew) is a special linguistic and cultural region. It consists of the cities Jieyang, Chaozhou, and Shantou and it used be the ancestral homeland of many Thais, Singaporeans, and Malaysians of Chinese descent.

Kung fu tea, the renowned tea ceremony, originated in the Chaoshan area. Drinking tea is an essential part of Teochew people’s daily lives and they serve it as an important etiquette.


Jasmine tea originated in Fujian, but it is the most popular flowering tea in Beijing's tea houses.

Hong Kong and Guangdong

Cold (or warm) milky tea with gelatinous "pearls" is a favorite in Hong kong and Guangdong.


Guilin has its own tea plantation and tea institute near Yao Mountain. Guilin's minorities, particularly the Yao, enjoy oil tea.