China is the birthplace of tea and has a long history of tea cultivation. The discovery and use of tea by the Chinese people is said to have started in the 神农 (shennong) era, around 4700 years ago.
Drinking Tea – a Cultural Tradition
Drinking tea in China is not only a living habit, but also a long-standing cultural tradition. When guests arrive at a home, they must always receive a cup of fragrant tea. Chinese people also like to entertain with tea in Festive activities. Until now, the Han people still have the custom of giving tea as a substitute for gifts. In Hangzhou, the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty, every family makes new teas and mixes them with various kinds of fine fruit, which is called “七家茶”(Qijiacha), to be served to relatives and friends. Another custom is to put two “green fruits”, namely olives or kumquats, in the teacup. This means that it will be a favorable New Year.
The Etiquette of Drinking Tea
Chinese people are used to serving guests with tea and have formed a corresponding tea-drinking etiquette. For example, when serving tea to guests, the teacup must be placed on a tray and served with both hands. The teacup should be placed in front of the guest’s right hand. While talking and drinking tea, the host should add water to the cup before it runs out. Guests also have rules for proper etiquette. Guests need to be good at “tasting”, taking small sips, not drinking the tea quickly.