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Lifestyle
Tea

In China, long before tea became the beverage of choice and a way of life, it was considered a medicinal staple. Tea was not only a treatment for individual illnesses, but was also a general health tonic, said to promote long life and vitality. Tea was also used by those wishing to achieve better results while meditating.

There are several special circumstances in which tea is prepared and consumed.

 As a sign of respect

In Chinese society, the younger generation always shows their respect to the older generation by offering a cup of tea. Inviting their elders to go to restaurants and having some tea is a traditional activity on holidays. In the past, people of lower rank served tea to higher-ranking people. Today, as Chinese society becomes more liberal, sometimes parents may pour a cup of tea for their children, or a boss may even pour tea for subordinates at restaurants. However, the lower-ranking person should not expect the higher-ranking person to serve him or her tea in formal occasions.

For a family gathering

When sons and daughters leave home because of work or get married, they may have few times to visit their parents, and parents may seldom meet their grandchildren as well. Therefore, going to restaurants and drinking tea with dimsums becomes an important activity for family gatherings. Every Sunday, Chinese restaurants are crowded, especially when people celebrate festivals. This phenomenon reflects Chinese family values.

To apologize

In Chinese culture, people make serious apologies to others by pouring tea for them. For example, children serving tea to their parents is a sign of regret and submission.

To express thanks to your elders on one's wedding day In the traditional Chinese marriage ceremony, both the bride and groom kneel in front of their parents and serve them tea. That is the most devout way to express their gratitude. In front of their parents, it is a practice for the married couple to say, "Thank you for bringing us up. Now we are getting married. We owe it all to you." The parents will usually drink a small portion of the tea and then give them a red envelope, which symbolizes good luck. Another variant is that the bride serve tea to the groom's parents, symbolizing that she is to become a part of the latter's family.

To connect large families on wedding days

The tea ceremony during a wedding also serves as a means for both parties to meet with each other. As Chinese families can be rather extended, and there may be one or two hundred people, it is entirely possible during a courtship to not have been introduced to someone. This was particularly true in older generations where the patriarch may have had more than one wife and not all family members were always on good terms. As such, during the tea ceremony, the couple would serve tea to all family members and call them by their official title. Drinking the tea symbolized acceptance into the family, while refusing to drink symbolized opposition to the wedding and was quite unheard of since it would result in a loss of "face". Older generations would give a red envelope to the matrimonial couple while the couple would be expected to give red envelopes to the unmarried younger ones.

Folding the napkin in tea ceremonies is a traditional action and is done to keep away bad Qi energy in China as tea was regarded as one of the seven daily necessities. The others being firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, and vinegar.

 There are common tea-drinking and eating practices or etiquette that Chinese people commonly recognize and use. These are practiced not only during dim sum meals but during other types of Chinese meals as well.

It is customary to pour tea for others during dim sum before filling one's own cup. A custom unique to the Cantonese is to thank the person pouring the tea by tapping the bent index finger if you are single, or by tapping both the index and middle finger if you are married, which symbolizes 'bowing' to them.

This is said to be analogous to the ritual of bowing to someone in appreciation. The origin of this gesture is described anecdotally: an unidentified Emperor went to yum cha with his friends, outside the palace; not wanting to attract attention to himself, the Emperor was disguised. While at yum cha, the Emperor poured his companion some tea, which was a great honor. The companion, not wanting to give away the Emperor's identity in public by bowing, instead tapped his index and middle finger on the table as sign of appreciation. Given the number of times tea is poured in a meal, the tapping is a timesaver in loud restaurants or lively company, as an individual being served might be speaking to someone else or have food in their mouth.

Leaving the lid balanced on the side of the tea pot is a common way of attracting a server's attention, and indicates a request for more hot water in the tea pot.

There are many different ways of brewing Chinese tea depending on variables like the formality of the occasion, the means of the people preparing it and the kind of tea being brewed. For example, green teas are more delicate than oolong teas or black teas and should be brewed with cooler water as a result. The most informal method of brewing tea is the simple adding of leaves to a pot, and hot water. This method is commonly found in households and restaurants, as at dim sum or yum cha in Cantonese restaurants.

Two other primary methods of brewing tea are the Chaou method and the Gongfucha method. Chaou brewing tends towards a more formal occasion and is generally used for more delicate teas, medicinal teas and tea tastings. Gongfucha brewing is a far more formal method of tea brewing (mainly for oolong or double fermented teas like Pu'erh) although even this method can be made more or less formal depending on the occasion. It makes use of small Yixing teawares teapot of about 100 – 150 ml (4 or 5 fl.oz.) to enhance the aesthetics, and more importantly "round out" the taste of the tea being brewed. Yixing teapot brewing sides towards the formal, and is used for private enjoyment of the tea as well as for welcoming guests. Increased enthusiasm for tea drinking led to the greater production of tea ware, and also significantly popularized Chinese porcelain culture.

 

Top Ten Teas in China

  • Longjing Tea (Dragon Well Tea, Lung Ching Tea, Xihu longjing, 西湖龙井): a green tea from Hangzhou,  Zhejiang Province
  • Bi Luo Chun(Green Snail Spring, Bi Lo Chun, Biluochun, 碧螺春): a green tea from Dong Ting mountain of Tai Hu, Jiangsu Province 
  • Bai Hao Yinzhen (also known as white tea Yinzhen,  white needle, 白毫银针): a white tea from Fujian Province. 
  • JUN SHAN SILVER NEEDLE(Junshan Yinzhen, silver needle of Mount Jun, 君山銀針) a yellow tea from Hunan Province 
  • Huangshan Maofeng Tea (黃山毛峰): a green tea produced from Mt. Huangshan, Anhui Province 
  • Wi Yi Da Hong Pao (Scarlet Robe, Wu Yi Big Red Robe, 武夷大红袍): an Oolong tea from Mount Wuyi, Fujian Province. 
  • Tie Kuan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy, Anxi Ti Kuan Yin, Anxi Tieguanyin, 安溪铁观音):an oolong tea from Anxi, a town in the southeastern part of the Fujian Province in China 
  • Xin Yang Mao Jian tea (also know as green tip, 信阳毛尖): a green tea produced in the Henan province of China. It is designated as a China Famous Tea. 
  • Lu Shan Cloud and Mist tea(Lu Shan Yun Wu, 庐山云雾): a green tea from the Mountain Lu in Jiangxi Province. 
  • Lu An Guapian tea (Liao an gua pian tea, 六安瓜片): is a Green tea from Anhui Province