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The History of Tea in China

When you think of China, do images of buzzing cities, the Great Wall, vast rice fields, silk shops, and dumplings fill your mind? 

These are some of the most common things we associate with China. But what about tea? Tea is one of the most important aspects of Chinese culture, trade, and of course – medicine!

Let’s learn more about the history of tea in China and how you can sip your way to better health with Chinese teas. 

The History of Tea in China

Tea is an everyday staple in homes around the world. In fact, it is estimated that over 159 million Americans and over 2 billion people worldwide drink tea each day!

While the British popularized tea among Westerners, tea has a rich history dating back thousands of years in China, Japan, and India. Let’s take a look at how tea got its start in China and in Chinese medicine.

The Origin of Chinese Tea

Tea has been cultivated in China for a long time – over 5000 years to be exact. 

The origins are still unknown, but Chinese medicine lore has it that Emporer Shen Nong was the first to try tea around 2737 BC. Shen Nong was known as the “Divine Farmer” and taste-tested all the local herbs to determine their properties. Legend has it that a camellia blossom fell into Shen Nong’s cup of hot water. When he drank it, he was delighted and the practice of tea drinking took off after that. 

Other sources disagree, saying that the first true reference to tea occurred in an ancient Chinese dictionary from 350 BC. 

Chinese Tea as Medicine

While sipping on a warm (or cold) cup of tea has become one of our favorite pastimes, tea was originally used as a medicine.

Tea was originally most popular as a digestive aid. People drank herbal tea with or after their meals to ensure good digestion and avoid issues like burping, bloating, and constipation. Later, tea was used to help improve energy, stress, stamina, immunity, and much more.

The Culture of Tea

Something as delicious and versatile as tea didn’t stay as just medicine for long. In the 8th century, a book called The Classic of Tea by Yu Lu was published, making tea drinking an activity – and even an art – in and of itself.

From here, rituals and rules about how to brew, steep, and serve tea developed as did the famous tea houses and ceremonies. As it grew more popular, tea became a noteworthy gift and even the subject of poetry!

For All the Tea in China

Tea is a huge topic with as many experts and aficionados as coffee or cigars. Get your tea knowledge up to snuff with this simple tea breakdown:

Traditional Teas

These teas are the classic tea made from the Camellia sinensis bush.

White Tea

Made from young tea leaves and gives a light flavor. It is believed that white tea has the best health properties.

Green Tea

Green tea leaves are not fermented, which maintains their green color and brightness.

Black Tea

Black tea is the most traditional type of tea and what you would be most likely to mix with milk and sugar. It is made from mature, fermented leaves. 

Oolong Tea

Oolong is only partially fermented, which gives a unique blend of both black and green flavor profiles.

Herbal Tea

Herbal teas are not made from the Camellia sinensis bush and are therefore not true “tea,” but they are steeped and drunk in a similar fashion.

Lemon Ginger Tea

Lemon ginger tea is made with dried lemon peel and ginger root to aid digestion and perk up your mood.

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint tea is a great tea for digestive trouble, headaches, and general stress relief.

Chamomile Tea

Made from yellow chamomile flowers, it is best known to relieve stress and promote sleep. 

Bravo Teas: Our Choice in High-Quality Chinese Herbal Teas

Tea is such a simple way to add pleasure to your life. You’ll reap even more benefits when you sip a cup of powerful herbal medicinal tea. 

At Best Chinese Medicines, we carry a wide range of Bravo Teas to help make living healthy as simple as taking a daily tea break. Here are a few of our favorites:

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Staying hydrated and stimulating your metabolism with herbs are two secret tricks that can help you lose weight faster – and keep it off. Dieter’s Slimming Tea helps you do both with a potent blend of weight loss herbs and a beautiful jasmine flavor you could sip all day.

When you’re wired at night and can’t sleep, Bravo Tea’s Sleep and Renew will get you back to bed quickly. This tea uses schizandra berry, a famous herb to calm the nerves, and other naturally caffeine-free ingredients.

A cup of immune-boosting tea a day keeps the doctor away! Bravo Tea’s Daily Immunity is a powerful blend of immunity herbs that you can drink daily to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. 

Drink Tea for Daily Health  

“Where there’s tea there’s hope.” – Arthur Wing Pinero

Tea is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and one of medicine’s simplest remedies! With Bravo Teas, you can turn a common daily habit into a self-care ritual that pushes you closer to your most important health goals. 

Find the best tea for you in our full collection of Bravo Teas!

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About the Author

Kaitlan Downes, MSAOM, L.AC

Kaitlan Downes, MSAOM, L.AC

Kate Downes is a Chinese medicine practitioner with a passion for herbal medicine. In fact, it was her love for plant and earth medicine that first drew her to study Chinese medicine.

Kate has a MSAOM (Master of Science, Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine) certification and practiced acupuncture in Indianapolis, IN for five years before packing her bags to roam the world. In order to stay in touch with the wellness community and continue to help others thrive with herbal medicine, she transformed her work from face-to-face patient care to spreading wellness through words. Her life as a remote herbalist and writer has allowed her to work with a variety of wellness brands, health pioneers, and her wonderful clients. She has a special interest in working with women’s health.

Kate thoroughly enjoys writing educational and useful pieces for Best Chinese Medicine. Her goal is to help the public gain a better understanding of the wonders of Chinese herbal medicine so they can be empowered in their own quest for natural, vibrant health.

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