The beginning of camillia sinensis
Ever accidentally drank a tea leaf? Well, you were experiencing the first method of consuming these leaves. As a bitter medicinal herb, tea leaves were chewed to aid digestion, with the added benefits of fresh breath! Can you locate on a map where the tea plant started? We can! Historians place tea in Ba Shu (Yunnan, Guizhou, and Sichuan in Southwestern China). Scientists have found evidence that supports this statement. 3 of the world's oldest tea trees are in this region. They are the: Bada ancient tea tree, estimated to be about 1,700 years old and is a wild tea tree; the Bangwei ancient tea tree, over 1,000 years old and the Nannuo tea tree, the "King of Tea Trees", considered to be planted by someone in the Song dynasty, about 800 years old. During this time tea progressed past chewing, and was placed in boiling water with other spices and herbs. Another way to make tea during this era is to take a powdered tea leaf and whisk it (Cha no yu anyone?)
Birth of tea culture
Tea became fashionable and luxurious during the Tang dynasty. Yellow tea, discussed later, was used as a tribute to the Emperor. Tea quickly grew in popularity due to the increase of the Chan Buddhism sect. This sect allowed tea to be consumed at night, expanding options to tea and water.
The Tang dynasty was also when the renowned The Classic of Tea by Lu Yu was published. During this time tea was primarily made into round cakes and brewed in boiling water; however, elegant serving sets began to make their appearance among the royal and affluent. 641 Marks an important year in tea history. Princess Wencheng brings tea to Tibet. This introduction of tea starts the tea trade outside of China and tea quickly becomes a powerful asset.
Song is the introduction of Luxury and Elegance to tea culture. Emperor Hui Zong writes Da Guan Cha Lu, Treatise on Tea, the most detailed and authoritative description of tea ceremony of the ceremony used during the Song Dynasty. Tea brewing became more refined and now was infused instead of boiled. Typically tea powder was placed in a bowl and a tea brush was used to mix the powder. Competitions started to judge others preparation and serving of tea. With the culture of tea developing, the business side was gaining speed as well. Tea houses became integral parts of society . This expansion of Chinese tea culture could not be contained for long. In 1235, Japanese monk Enni Bern'en studied the Buddhist writings in China, taking tea seeds back to Japan. Cha No Yo is based of the Song dynasty.
Ming Dynasty: Tea Culture & Return to Simplicity
Boiling or using tea powder? Out. Infusion of tea leaves is all the trend. Loose leaf began to reign supreme as the pinnacle of elegance and was accept as offering instead of cakes in 1391 by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, an objective indicator of the status loose leaf adopted. Unfortunately, tea competitions started to become less frequent; however, because of the transition from powder to loose leaf the practitioner now reaches for clay and porcelain teapots instead of the mortars used prior.