Chinese Tea Tells the Stories of Drawing the World Near
Tea tells the stories of drawing the world near
Xi Jinping and Theresa May take part in a tea ceremony accompanied by their spouses at the Diaoyutai state guesthouse, February 1th, Chinese tea become the major object to present the characteristics of Chinese and her culture.
The tea ceremony is not only a diplomatic protocol. It shows the greatest common point between the peoples of China and Britain, the love of having tea. As early as the 17th century, tea from China was sold in British coffee shops and “Chinese Drink” became a popular luxury of the time. For hundreds of year, afternoon tea has become one of the most important British lifestyles.
Tea links various civilizations together
Even if the way of life and thinking may vary, people always put aside their difference for a tea break. Since ancient times, Chinese tea had been spread to Europe along the Silk Road, later drinking tea became a global fashion. For more than a thousand years, tea, silk and porcelain had been exported through thousands of miles of the trading routes going through mountains and over the seas, which became the most important link between China and other civilizations.
Thousands of years of Chinese tea culture
China is the homeland of tea. Chinese Legend says that it was discovered by Shennong-shi ( also called as "Agriculture God") before 2700 BC, and archaeologists proved that tea plantations began more than 3,000 years ago in southern China. It can be said that when ancient Egyptians were building the pyramids, Chinese began to drink tea.
Hunan is one of the most important tea producing areas in China, of which Anhua is the most important source of making Hunan tea. According to historical records, Anhua tea was the tribute to the royal families from the beginning of the Tang Dynasty,especially Qujiang Tablets Tea. In the Song Dynasty, Anhua became the most important county for tea producing due to the Tea-Horse Trading with the ethnic minorities in southwest China.
At that time,as Qujiang Tablet Tea,the representative of Anhua tea was not a modern Heicha ( translated as Dark Tea in English) , which gradually entered the category of Heicha by the process of pan fried, piling and fire baking, in the first stage of producing. During Jiaqing Period of Qing Dynasty, people in Anhua created new types of Heicha such as Qianliang Tea, Anqian Tea and Gongjian Tea, Gongjian Tea, Shengjian Tea, etc. With a simple and magnificent shape, Qianliang Tea is made by unique manufacturing techniques, and it has the reputation of“the representation of Chinese tea culture" and "king tea of the world ". Since then, the two words “Anhua” and “Heicha” become a set phrase .
The Tea Horse Road
Tea horse trading with the southwestern ethnic minorities continued for thousands of years. Anhua also became the capital of tea production in Hunan Province and even in central China until the 20th century. In the late Ming Dynasty and the early Qing Dynasty, Hunan tea became the main commodity for tea-horse trades with northwestern ethnic minorities, and it was exported to Europe in large quantities, especially Anhua dark tea and black tea. The Tea Horse Road transported tea from Anhua county of Hunan and Fujian Wuyi Mountain by crossing the Eurasian continent.
For two hundred years, Anhua tea were traded to the world. First, tea packages were carried down by Anhua tea farmers and by their horses from the mountains, to concentrate their commodities in Niutian station of Jindong City; then they transported tea by boats along the streams to Zijiang River, Dongting Lake and Yangtze River; finally the boats arrived in Hankou of Hubei Province. Those tea then were sent on the long trip of 13,000 kilometers through China to Mongolia and Russia, and later to Central Asia and other European countries.
It is the longest and the most arduous trading trip in human history. Along with people's footsteps, tea travels from the mountains to the borders, and from the domestic to the world.
Golden Flowers of Anhua Heicha
Different types of tea are made and defined according to different cultures.
We may take the tea ceremony in Beijing mentioned above as an example. British Black Tea is usually called as hongcha (which means red tea) in China, and Chinese called their tea Heicha (meaning black tea literally) only due to the process of post-fermentation in Hunan Anhua and other places. In English, Heicha is translated as Dark Tea.
以北京茶叙为例。对于英国人而言，英式红茶是“黑茶”（black tea）；而在中国人看来，湖南安化等地独有的后发酵茶才是黑茶，对于英文中称黑茶为“dark tea”一直有些不解。
"The tea that can bloom golden flowers should not be called Dark Tea," says many people in Anhua. In their mind, Anhua produces the most distinctive tea with their unique characteristics. One can taste the fragrance and hardness of thousands years of history after sipping a cup of tea.
For example,Golden Flower a type of Anhua tea is made up of large tea leaves grown in mountains; after the typical processures of traditional Anhua Heicha producing of killing green, fixing, rolling, piling, baking and drying, the bricks of Fucha tea will grow“golden flowers” of eurotium cristatum. Ancient Chinese found that under certain conditions of temperature and humidity, these bricks can grow a variety of probiotics, in result to form yellow shapes like flowers evenly attaching to Fucha Tea bricks. Coupled with the latter transformation, the bitterness of the tea gradually fades away, and the taste goes more pure and mild, and it is good for digestion and for cutting down the grease of meals.
Every “golden flower” presents Chinese ancestors’ life and wisdom; Fucha Tea, the brick-shaped tea, shows the faith, the calmness and the strength of Chinese working people.