Chinese tea tasting is the origin of all tea traditions.

Origin of Chinese Tea Tasting

Using the same Camellia sinensis plant, Chinese tea masters invented 6 major types of tea. Through various processing techniques, each tea offers unique aroma, flavors, and texture, not to mention health benefits. By degrees of fermentation from none to fully fermented, these teas are:

  • White tea
  • Yellow tea
  • Green tea
  • Oolong tea
  • Black tea
  • Pu erh Tea (or Dark Tea, Hei Cha)

Chinese Tea Tasting Culture Expands Globally

Similar to tea-making, the art of tea-drinking also evolved throughout the millennia in China. As tea flowed out to different parts of the world, tea-drinking was adopted and tailored to local culture. Here are the major tea-drinking traditions, starting from ancient times to present days.

  1. Cooked Tea: In pre-Tang Dynasty (6th century) China, tea was boiled with ginger, mint, scallions, citrus peel, etc.
  2. Powdered Tea:  Lu Yu, the greatest tea sage in Chinese tea culture, promoted Powdered tea.
  3. Whipped tea: Around the 10th century, in the Song dynasty in China, Whipped tea became fashionable. Japan adopted Whipped tea as Matcha 500 years later, giving birth to Chado, or Chanoyu, also known as the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
  4. Steeped tea: This tea-drinking method resulted from the invention of loose leaf tea, which happened in the Ming dynasty of China. Read more about how tea is made.
  5. Zen Tea Ceremony: This ceremony originated at the Mount Tai temple in Shandong province in China. The practice spread throughout China and overseas. We filmed the Zen Tea Ceremony in Wuyi Shan’s Mother Temple.
  6. Gong Fu Cha or Gong Fu Tea: The Gong Fu Cha Ceremony, was invented specifically to taste Oolong tea, a semi-fermented tea invented by the Buddhist monks at the Mother Temple Wuyi Mountains.
  7. Japanese Tea Ceremony or Chado: Also called Chanoyu, or The Way of Tea. This ceremony started in the 1500s using Whipped Green tea. Read the fascinating story of how tea came to Japan.
  8. Afternoon Tea: Introduced in England by the Duchess of Bedford in 1840. Afternoon tea brewing was initially a time for women to get together in their boudoirs. This social event then moved to the hotels of London in the mid-1800s. It grew into a quintessential English custom beloved by people around the world today.

Origin of Gong Fu Cha

One of the most renowned Chinese tea tastings is Gong Fu Tea. This ancient custom was invented to taste Oolong tea and accompanied by a host of exquisite Chinese tea things.

Oolong tea is the most complex tea type ever invented by Chinese Buddhist monks in the 16th century. A semi-fermented tea, Oolong tastes exquisite, awakening your senses like a springtime walk in the mountains. Oolong tea abounds with healthy qualities, like weight loss for example.    

To fully experience the majesty of this artisan tea, the monks invented a ceremony called Gong Fu Cha. This Zen Tea ritual offers tea drinkers not only a tea-tasting experience but also elevated spirituality and connectivity with others. Oolong’s origin story is fascinating.   

“Tea is the essence of heaven and earth.”

Throughout the ages, tea immortalized innumerable tea connoisseurs in China. Emperors, artists, and poets worshiped the charm of this humble, noble beverage.

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Tang dynasty poet Lu Tong penned the famous “7 Cups,” while he was tasting tea. Legend has it that he was tasting Wuyi Rock tea, renowned for its long-lasting brews.

Wuyi Rock tea would later evolve into Oolong, more than 800 years after the tea-intoxicated poet put down his tea bowl.

Here is the English translation of his poem.

7 Cups

The first cup moistens my lips and throat;

The second cup breaks my loneliness;

The third cup searches my barren entrails but to find therein some five thousand scrolls;

The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration, and all life’s inequities pass out through my pores;

The fifth cup purifies my flesh and bones;

The sixth cup calls me to the immortals;

The seventh cup could not be drunk, only the breath of the cool breeze raises in my sleeves.

– Lu Tong (790-835 A.D.)
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Discover the beauty and the art of Chinese tea tasting.
9-Dragons-Tea-Art Book


You’ll love our new artbook! A labor of love, this artbook showcases glorious images, taking you on a journey through ancient tea rituals and how these practices bring calmness, mindfulness, and tranquility through the ages.

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