Chinese New Year is festive of reunion among family members as well as a cultural tradition occasions for the Chinese community. Tea is an essential part of Chinese culture, especially during the Lunar New Year. With various tea selections, tea has many cultural meanings that are still believed today.
Since long time ago, tea has been associated with arts, literature, philosophy as well as health. It is used not only for mere entertainment and well-being, but tea has also been used culturally as a form of respect in the Chinese community.
Over the years and centuries, tea has developed its custom and culture. While it has spread across the globe to other Asian countries such as Korea, Vietnam and Japan, tea has preserved its cultural value until this day.
The History Of Chinese Tea
Chinese tea has come a long way since its discovery roughly five thousand years ago. It is originated in China and was adapted among all social classes at that time. According to legend, tea was first discovered by Emperor Shen Nung when leaves from a tree flew into his pot while he was boiling water.
Since then, tea has been widely used for medicinal purposes in China. With each type of tea having its unique healing and medicinal properties. However, during the 4th – 8th century, tea became commonly consumed for refreshment purposes.
Tea Customs in Chinese Culture
As mentioned, tea is used for various purposes. For instance, as a sign of respect. This is often practised when younger generations offer a cup of tea to the elder generations during festive occasions such as Chinese New Year and Qing Ming festival.
Other than that, tea offering is practised as a part of formal apology. Even though this is rarely practised nowadays, it was widely used in the past. This custom shows a sign of regret and submission when the wrongdoers have offended the other party.
In addition, as a symbol of two families joining as one, tea is served to both the bride and groom’s parents as a form of unity and respect. This is often takes place during the wedding’s tea ceremony.
Tea Traditions During Chinese New Year
Tea is deeply associated with the festive occasion as it is a form of respect to the elderly. There are some traditions and customs which are practised by the Chinese community during the Chinese New Year.
On the morning of the first day of Chinese New Year, the elder generation, typically the grandparents and parents, will sit on a chair side by side with each other. Then the younger generation will bow slightly and offer them a cup of Chinese tea as a form of respect. During this ceremony, everyone is clothed in new outfits and are well-groomed.
While handing over the cup of tea, it is considered as good luck to recite a few good wishes to the elder generations. In return, the elderly is to give the younger generations red packets and auspicious wishes as well.
While serving tea, it is advisable to rest the tea for a while as it may be too hot to offer for the elder ones. Besides, sometimes, a second and third tea may be offered as a symbolic meaning of good fortune and prosperous year.
Once this ceremony is completed among the family members, everyone will resume the other activities such as visitations to relatives’ houses and so on.
Tea Selections in Chinese Culture
There are many types of teas in Chinese culture. Each tea has different benefits and according to occasions, types of tea are served accordingly.
There are six major types of teas in Chinese traditions, namely green tea, black tea, Oolong tea, white tea, yellow tea and dark tea. Generally, the type of tea used to offer respect during Chinese New Year is a sweeter type of tea, such as Oolong or green tea.
This is the most popular type of tea used in Chinese culture. It is made by new tea leaves or buds which has gone through several processes of frying, kneading and drying.
This type of tea is usually clear and green. Green tea is beneficial for health such as reducing risks of cancer, losing weight as well as lowering the cholesterol levels in our bodies. A few examples of green teas include Longjing, Huangshan Maofeng and Biluochun.
In Chinese, it is often regarded as red tea or ‘Hong Cha’. This type of tea is fully fermented, hence it has a stronger flavour. The tea leaves of a black tea are dark but the tea itself is red in colour.
It has plenty of benefits for us such as promoting weight loss, strengthen our heart, aiding in digestion problem as well as increasing appetite. The examples of black tea are Yunnan Black Tea, Lapsang Souchong and Red Plum Classic.
Oolong tea is very common in Chinese tea culture. It is semi-fermented and is a fragrant tea with a slight hint of black tea flavour.
Oolong tea is also known as the cosmetic tea as it promotes beauty functions such as aiding in weight loss, decomposing fats, building body shapes and many more. The most commonly found Oolong tea is Tieguanyin.
White Tea & Yellow Tea
These two types of tea are generally more for health benefits. The tea brewed is usually clear and refreshing. It is often consumed to cool down the body as it has a cooling effect.
The health benefits for white and yellow tea include reducing ‘heatiness’ in our bodies, remising fever, reducing indigestion problems, promoting weight loss and so on. The teas found in these type of Chinese tea include Baimudan, Gongmei, Yinzhen, Huangya and many more.
This type of fermented tea is named as dark tea as the appearance after brewing is black and dark. It has high nutritional values that include protein, amino acids and sugar substances.
It helps to relieve the greasy sensation after a heavy meal, promote digestion and resist the oxidation on our skin. The famous example of dark tea is Pu Er.
Where To Find Tea For Chinese New Year?
Since tea is so common in our country, it is not difficult at all to find tea selections in the stores available in Malaysia.
Check out these few stores for your tea selection this coming Chinese New Year:
Tea has been used so widely as a medium to connect with each other, be it with our family members or relatives or friend! This year, for the Chinese New Year, let us all connect with each other through the usage of tea again as hope for new beginnings and well-wishes.
Order some food and tea for your family with foodpanda! Just a few clicks and you can catch up with your friends or family as your order is on its way.
Here, foodpanda would like to wish you a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year! May you Ong Ong Huat Huat throughout the year of 2020!