9 Dragons Tea Blog

A sip of culture for your thoughts

Where Was Tea Invented?

How Did Tea Spread Around The World?
featured image Blog Origin of Matcha Green Tea couple whipped tea ceremony
featured image Blog Origin of Matcha Green Tea couple whipped tea ceremony
How Did Tea Spread Around The World?

A tea-drinker all my life, I thought I knew tea. Afterall, I grew up watching my father sip Gong Fu Tea since I was a little girl in China. Around 1997, I started to learn tea tasting on Sundays from Master Ip, who is the owner of the LockCha Tea House located next to the Hong Kong Teaware museum. That tea tasting class not only taught me the art of tea, but it also became a much-needed ritual to relax my mind.

I was a lucky expatriate living in Hong Kong and working for Sony Pictures back then. How much I looked forward to that weekend walk past the pond with the stacked up turtles to go taste tea and to talk tea with fellow tea lovers.

Photo by Christy Hui

I recently returned to the LockCha tea house for a tea gathering, accompanied by traditioanl Cantonese music and poetry recital. It was such a memorable tea moment! My teapot of Wuyi Oolong tea was on the foreground. This Hong Kong tea tasting meant so much to me since I have learned a great deal more about tea from making the film 9 Dragons Tea!

Courtesy of LockchaTea House. Photo by Christy Hui.

About the film “9 Dragons Tea” — A Tea Documentary

Fast forward two decades later: I am selected to produce a 40-minute film about the history of tea. No problemo. I thought it would be a walk in the park! Production was anticipated to be complete within 18 months, tops. Well…

There was so much rich history to explore that this little film doubled in length and took an additional 12 months. I spent nine months doing research, which included several trips back to China, Hong Kong, New York, as well as Boston. Blessed with online access to many prestigious museums around the world, I found treasure troves of historical images that helped piece together this ancient puzzle.

In this video clip, “Let’s Talk Tea,” I’ll take you behind the scenes of the documentary from Wuyi Shan. Bruce Richardson, tea historian and co-author of “A Social Tea History,” highlights how tea impacted American history and sparked its independence from the British.

Shooting Locations

Filmed in digital 4K, “9 Dragons Tea” was shot in Wuyi Shan, Hong Kong, Boston (at the Old South Meeting House and the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum), as well as in San Francisco (at the Fairmont hotel).  Visit the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum here

For a glimpse of the Old South Meeting House, click here

The Stream of Nine Windings, Wuyi Shan, China.

How Was Tea Invented?
How was tea discovered, made, and processed? Our story traces the origin of tea in anicent China and tea’s evolution throughout the major dynasties.

Did you know that up until the mid 19th century, China was the only country on the planet that knew how to make tea?

Loose Tea. Courtesy of LockCha Tea House.
Tea Cakes In Various Forms And Sizes. Courtesy of The Tea Museum. Photo by Christy Hui.

Did you know that up until the mid19th century, China was the only country that knew how to make tea?

Image courtesy of ActionFliks Media. © ActionFliks Media.

China invented all six types: White, Yellow, Green, Oolong, Black, and Puer (or Puerh).

When Did the China Tea Trade Begin?

Recognize this picture? The Port of Canton (now Guangzhou) played a significant role in the tea trade between China and the West. In the mid 1700s, all foregin trades with China was restricted to the Port of Canton. Painted by a Cantonese painter named Sunqua.

Courtesy of Wikimedia.org. Click image for credit.

How Did Tea Start In India and England?

So how did tea travel out of China? When did India start tea cultivation? How did tea spread to Japan? How did the English tradition of Afternoon Tea begin? All these questions and more will be unveiled in this 90-minute tea documentary. For the history buff and those who love tea, get ready for a long sip of tea…

Map of Black Tea’s Journey From Wuyi Shan to the World. Courtesy of Lapsang Souchong Company.

An Endless Stream of Research

As I was researching for the film, ENDLE questions kept popping up. It was like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle, spanning a few thousand years with the missing pieces in different languages. Just when I thought I had all the answers, then there would be something that didn’t add up in the timeline, sending me down yet another rabbit hole… Suffice it to say my head was swimming in tea for months!

Wuyi Shan – The Birthplace of Black Tea

Are you a fan of black tea, say English Breakfast, Earl Grey, or Assam?  We were lucky to be able to interview the direct descendant of Lapsang Souchong’s creator, Mr. Jiang, who is the 24th-generation tea-maker of the original Lapsang Company. This allows us to piece together the never-before-told story of the accidental invention of Lapsang Souchong, the origin of all the world’s Black Teas.

Lapsang Tea-Making Scenes of “9 Dragons Tea”. Marco Solorio behind the camera.

Wuyi Shan’s Nature Preserve – A Forbidden Zone For Foreigners, But We Were There.

Located in Wuyi Shan’s Nature Preserve, entry into the park as well as the Lapsang Company is still prohibited to foreigners. Our crew went through hoops to get in and was lucky to capture the gorgeous footage that we did. With me are Director of Photography Marco Solorio (left) and Editor Steve Eagleton.

The mystical Nature Preserve of Wuyi Shan. Photo by Christy Hui.
From left to right: Marco Solorio (DP), Christy Hui (Director), and Steve Eagleton (Editor).

We hope to share this documentary film with you soon!  Follow our tea journey and you’ll discover how the tiny cups of tea from the legendary Wuyi Shan influenced western tastes, drove trade, and changed world history.  

Fun Fact:  Did you know that all the tea thrown into the Boston Harbor on that fateful evening of December 16, 1773, aka the Boston Tea Party, was from China?  Over two thirds, or 234 chests of tea, were from Wuyi Shan.  

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Business Contact: 9DragonsTea@gmail.com

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About the Author

Christy Hui

Brimming with ZEST. Consummate cultivator of ideas from sparks to seedlings to fruit-bearing adventures. I love pursuing worthy causes elevating the human spirit. 

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