Frank Yip's Papers, all you ever need to know about eastern tea and more...
Tea Knowledge BaseTea CeremonyOnline ShopAdvertisement
HomeTea Wares ResearchDictionaryGalleriesAbout UsHelp
Tea and the Chinese - an age-old love affair

By Frank Yip

The Chinese would not give up his daily cups of tea for his life, so claimed a Xian friend last year. If you are a frequent visitor to China, you cannot agree more with my friend for practically speaking, the Chinese cannot survive without their beloved teas.

A painter friend who aspires from Shanghai carries his ubiquitous teapot, with a thermoflask tucked smugly in a bamboo casting to boot, wherever he moves around. He will drink directly from its fragile-looking spout whenever he feels it necessary to quench his thirst.

At any conference in China, almost everyone brings a long his glass bottle filled with tea, with the green leaves swimming like the fighting fish we so admired with young. The diehard habit even goes beyond China's borders when some Chinese go visiting overseas.

How long have the Chinese fallen head over heels for tea? The Chinese would tell you since the days of the legendary Emperor Chen Nang who lived 4700 years ago. The Japanese would perhaps dispute this by saying that tea came from India in 519 A.D. when Indian monk Bodhidharma visited China.

According to Chinese literary seconds, tea became a beverage during the reign of Emperor Suan of western Han dynasty (49-91 B.C.), i.e. over 500 years before Bodhidharma.

Why are the Chinese so obsessed with tea, a simple-enough plant which they serve as life's elixir? The typical Chinese tea lover would give you a long list of beneficial effects of tea, from reducing fat, trimming figure, driving away fatigue, enabling longevity, soothing nerves, brightening the eyes, strengthening the heart, enhancing using flow, killing germs to keeping cancers at arm's length.

To prove their point they have another list of various teas to mesmerise you: 60 types of quality green teas, 12 red, five flower-scented, 11 oolong, 2 white, 6 yellow, 5 packed, 4 black and 1 easily dissolved type to make you healthy.

As quality teas they are expensive and the costliest may burn a hole in your pocket, at a cool one thousand Singapore dollars (S$1000) a kilo. Luckily most teas are affordable.

Tea drinking has come a long way, with its many etiquette and implements. Even if you are not impressed by tea, you would not escape the impressive array and beauty of the tea wares through the ages, i.e. from the Neolithic times (see article in this column in the near future) to the present day.

Many of these tea cups, tea pots, tea trays and other incidental apparatus have become collectors' items and much sought after. For example, a Song dynasty (960-1280) imperial used cup of lustrous green, if even available in the auction market, would quite easily cost you a million dollars.

Do not let this dampen you enthusiasm in cultivating the tea drinking habit. You can spend less than $20 to get a modern set of Chinese tea wares from a curios shop to start drinking your woes away with, of course, your choice of tea and plenty of boiling hot water.

All rights reserved. No parts of this article may be reproduced unless authorization is given by


Back to Research

Tea Knowledge Base  |   Tea Ceremony   |   Online Shop  |   Advertisement

Home  |   Research  |   Dictionary  |   Galleries  |   About Us  |   Help