After a trip to the Heavenly Temple in Beijing we went to a Tea House. We were given samples of several teas that were wonderful. I happen to be a tea drinker much more than a coffee drinker and like a tea with some spice. The teas we sampled had more taste to them than the teas I’ve come across in the States. All of the teas were from the tea leaves and very fresh. There were Jasmine Teas, Fruit Teas, Wulong Teas, and Green and Black Teas. At one point the young lady made some kind of a black tea and added these delicious fruity flowers making the tea very sweet. She told us we could eat the flowers. They were sweet and delicious.
We also went to a Tea House in Nanjing’s Presidential Palace Garden. After drinking a cup of tea and enjoying a sweet cookie we were entertained by a lovely young lady playing a harp like instrument. I have included her picture.
Green Tea is also called the Dragon Well Tea. The leaves are slim and green or green and yellow. The taste is sweet , fresh and fragrant. The tea is rich in Vitamin C.
The Tea Plantations are located in warm and humid areas in tropical or subtropical climates. Wild tea trees can grow as high as 86 feet. It was said that the ancient Chinese used to train monkeys to climb up the tea trees and pick the tea buds. The most prolific time with the tastiest teas is the spring time, April and May. The earliest record of tea consumption is in China.
The steps to making tea in China are a bit different than they are in the States and are part of the Tea Ceremony. The first step is to select the tea leaves which should be dry, whole and fragrant. The best water to make tea is distilled water. After the water is heated and poured over the tea leaves it is called the tea soup. Step two is smelling the tea and step three is tasting the tea. After bringing the water to a boil or close to it pour hot water into the cups and teapot. Depending on the type of tea, sometimes the leaves are washed with hot water and then the hot water is again poured over the tea leaves to make the tea soup. Tea is poured into small teacups that are covered and served to guests. Guests take off the small cover and smell the fragrance of the tea. They then drink the tea soup three times.
Different water temperatures are used to make different kinds of teas. To make green tea the water temperature should be 158 degrees. (At sea level the boiling point of water is 212 degrees.) Green tea contains rich caffeine and if boiling water is used the tea will taste bitter. Boiling water will also damage the Vitamin C. For Wulong tea the temperature should be just a bit hotter at 164 degrees. The Wulong tea is made of tender buds and again boiling water will harm the tea.
The tea that we discovered in the little Tea House at the Heavenly Temple was so exceptional that we bought several varieties. These varieties included a sweet black tea, jasmine tea, a Longevity Tea from the Wu Mountains where there is no pollution and that helps lower blood sugar, blood pressure and blood fat and Puer Tea. Puer teas are fermented teas which are robust, earthy and rich. The tea is aged with the leaves coming from exceptionally broad-leaved tea trees. The tea can be left loose or compressed into cakes. The cakes retain barely enough moisture to enable the tea to continue to ferment slowly over time. We came home with a colorful tin of little cakes.
Tea was originally used for herbal remedies but eventually enjoyed just for it’s delightful flavor and the calmness it provided. Monks started to use tea as a hot drink to promote peace, quiet, enjoyment and truth. Perhaps we should all drink more tea. I would highly suggest that you try some of the Chinese teas if you enjoy drinking tea. There really is no comparison between our tea bags and the fresh leaves of Chinese tea.
I have wondered where I would be able to purchase Chinese teas in the States and so went to Google. Low and behold I found just what I was looking for. Seven Cups is an American tea company based in Tucson, Arizona. They source traditional, handmade Chinese teas directly from the growers and tea masters who make them, and bring those teas back from China to share with people everywhere. Seven Cups is the only American tea company with our own Chinese trading license, so that we are in complete control of our supply chain from tea maker to consumer.