China is the homeland of tea. It is believed that China has tea-shrubs as early as five to six thousand years ago, and human cultivation of teaplants dates back two thousand years. Tea from China, along with her silk and porcelain, began to be known the world over more than a thousand years ago and has since always been an important Chinese export. At present more than forty countries in the world grow tea with Asian countries producing 90% of the world’s total output. All tea trees in other countries have their origin directly or indirectly in China. The word for tea leaves or tea as a drink in many countries are derivatives from the Chinese character “cha.” The Russians call it “cha’i“, which sounds like “chaye” (tea leaves) as it is pronounced in northern China, and the English word “tea” sounds similar to the pronunciation of its counterpart in Xiamen (Amoy). The Japanese character for tea is written exactly the same as it is in Chinese, though pronounced with a slight difference. The habit of tea drinking spread to Japan in the 6th century, but it was not introduced to Europe and America till the 17th and 18th centuries.
Jasmine Green Tea, unlike most teas, is made from both green leaves and the jasmine blossoms. These plants, over 200 species in number, are widely cultivated for their beautiful fragrant white, yellow or red flowers.
The jasmine plant was brought to China by Persia in the third century AD. However, it did not become popular there until about 1000 years ago. Yin Hao is considered the finest of all jasmine teas. Other popular blends are Dragon Phoenix Pearl, Xiang Pian, and Mo Li Hua Cha, the latter being one of the most popular scented tea in the world.
Jasmine green tea is made by starting with a Chinese green tea for a base. Some will use pouchong/oolong or black tea but green is more common. The tea leaves are plucked and processed in April and May and then kept dry until the jasmine flowers bloom in August and September.
The Tea Ceremony
The Chinese tea ceremony, also called the Chinese Way of Tea, is a Chinese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of tea leaf. The manner in which it is performed, or the art of its performance is shown in the tea ceremony. Taoism has also been an influence in the development of the tea ceremony. The elements of the Chinese tea ceremony is the harmony of nature and enjoying tea in an informal and formal setting. Tea ceremonies are now being revived in China’s new fast-paced culture, and continuing in the long tradition of intangible Chinese art.