4 Ways Of Drinking Tea In Ancient China

Even before civilization, different people around the world used to enjoy a specific type of drink. The Chinese, in particular, discovered the world's most favorite drink that is tea, commonly known as Jia' in Chinese dialect. The Chinese took tea with utmost regard that different prolific Chinese authors wrote different books describing this mind-stimulating beverage.

If you are a tea enthusiast or you want to satisfy your curiosity about this mood-changing drink, then read on as this article got you covered. We summarize tea's fascinating history and origin and the 4 ways people enjoyed this beverage in ancient China.

The history and origin of tea

Legend has it that tea was first discovered around 2732BC-2750BC in the Southwestern region of China by the emperor Shennong. He was sitting under a wild tea tree (known today as the Camellia Sinensis plant) when a leaf blew into his boiling water. On smelling the aromatic scent produced by the leaf in the boiling water, he decided to take a sip, and that's when this world's favorite beverage was birthed.

Archeologists discovered 2100-year-old tea leaves in the tomb of a Han dynasty emperor, who is believed to have died around 141BC. This not only proves that tea was highly valued among the Chinese, but it also backs up the evidence that China is the birthplace of tea.

4 ways that people enjoyed Chinese tea in ancient China


During ancient times, farming methods had not been revolutionized, and thus, food scarcity was a common problem among the locals. This prompted them to search for other sources of food like roots and leaves. Having found that tea leaves were nutritious and not poisonous, they began to consume these leaves.

But after sometimes they realized that these leaves had the potential to reduce fever and also sleepiness. This meant that people would stay active throughout the day when they drank these newly discovered Sinensis leaves, thus using them as medication for different physical ailments.

Made to form a thick tea soup

Popular during 221BC-220AD, this tea-drinking method made tea to be enjoyed as a beverage rather than medicine. Millet would be mixed with tea leaves and other condiments (a substance used to add flavor) and boiled until a porridge-like consistency was achieved. Till to date, this method of making Chinese tea is still in practice in some regions in China (though it's not that prevalent as it used to be).

Powdered form

This practice of making tea was so popular during the Tang Dynasty(618-907AD). It involved pulverizing tea leaves, that is, crushing or grinding tea leaves to form a powder. The ground tea leaves would then be used to make a tea cake by use of rice milk. The tea cakes would then be roasted to a reddish color then pounded into small pieces before being drunk. People would add strong spices like scallion or ginger to make the flavor of this tea even more versatile.

However, Lu Yu, one of the most prolific Chinese writers, advised people against adding other ingredients when making tea in his book titled 'Classic of Tea.' He advocated that tea ought to be drunk in its original flavor. After sipping it, one should chew the tea leaves' residues slowly to appreciate its authentic taste. Such tea prepared without adding anything in it was known as Qing ming.

Whole leaf infusion

This is the only method that involved the use of processed tea leaves since tea was discovered in China. It involved steaming, oxidizing, and roasting fresh loose tea leaves which would then be used to prepare this pleasant-tasting drink. The captivating appearance and sweet taste of tea made using this technique made it so famous that this practice of preparing tea is still implemented up to date in most parts of the world.

Key takeaway

Even though tea was discovered around 5 centuries ago, it's still up to date an unrivaled beverage. Some ancient Chinese ways of drinking tea, like using a loose leaf tea, shaped how we drink tea up to date.


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