The rich history of Chinese tea culture dates back to more than 4,000 years ago. Green tea, the oldest of Chinese tea, was a luxury beverage drunk by emperors before it became part of common culture along with formalised tea ceremonies. Today, this tea-centered way of life is not only still prevalent in the country, but it has also spread to other countries and influenced other cultures. Tea is the most popular refreshment in China, with the average person in China drinking 400 cups of tea a year according to US-China Institute.
Navigating its vast history, here are what we think are the 8 must-knows of Chinese tea and its culture!
A famous legend tells the story of Sheng Nong who was poisoned after a day of eating various wild plants. As he lay on the ground barely alive, he noticed a bunch of fragrant leaves and out of habit, ate them as well. These leaves turned out to be tea leaves that detoxified his body of the poison and made him well again, portraying the benefits of tea on our bodies.
More recently, tea has been found to have inflammatory properties due to its antioxidants. The multi-purpose beverage also helps with weight loss and reduces the risk of cancer. The Chinese also believe that different teas have ‘heating’ and ‘cooling’ effects on the body to balance out the body’s 氣 (qi), or life force.
There are 6 main families of teas originating from China, namely white, green, black, yellow, wulong (better known as oolong) and pu’er tea. While some of these teas are wildly popular and can be drunk in various places around Asia, they are not grown in the same area. In fact, different regions in China grow and harvest specific different types of tea, and they also have distinctive tea cultures and preferences! People in Beijing prefer flower-scented teas while Tibetans enjoy buttered tea. Mongolians enjoy their tea with milk and the Northern Chinese enjoy black teas and pu’er which is tea that has been fermented.
Next time you make a visit to China, be sure to observe what the locals like to drink. You might be surprised at what you find!
With its long and deep-rooted history, tea is held in high regards. It was a tradition for someone of a lower rank to serve tea to someone more senior as a sign of respect. Nowadays, serving tea to seniors, colleagues or even guests, regardless of their status, has become a widespread symbol of respect in China. Don’t be surprised if you’re served tea after a pleasant chat with the shopkeeper of a hole-in-the-wall store!
In traditional Chinese weddings, the bride and groom serve tea to their own and each others’ parents by kneeling in front of their families and presenting the cup of tea while bowing. This is done as a deep symbol of thanks for raising them into adulthood. As the Chinese also strongly believe in fate, the meeting between husband and wife may also be seen as only possible due to their parents’ years of care and guidance, another reason for serving tea as a sign of gratitude.
Tea culture in China isn’t just limited to it’s tea alone. There are over 25,000 tea houses in China. With the purpose of drinking tea and socialising, these tea houses are seen as a gauge of the country’s and cities’ economy. The more glorious the tea house, the more prosperous the country. Tea houses in China are also the birthplace of xiangsheng, or crosstalk — comedic monologues or dialogues rich in puns and allusions.
Surprise! The first pot filled with hot water is not drunk but actually thrown out. Hot water is first poured into the pot and left to settle for one minute to warm the vessel. Doing this ensures that the temperature of the water is optimal for brewing tea leaves. Warming the walls of the pot will prevent the second round of hot water from cooling down quickly, thereby bringing out the strongest flavour of the tea!
The most famous type of teapot in China is the Yixing clay teapot that’s been around since the 15th century. While the Chinese brewed tea for personal enjoyment, they also brewed tea to ‘wash’ their clay pot and cups. Pouring hot brewed tea on both the inside and outside of the teaware, they believed this would strengthen the mould and shape of the clay and deter erosion, allowing the clay to last longer.
If Chinese tea isn't your cup of tea, perhaps organic herbal tea may be more up your alley. After all, everyone has their own preferences and unique taste in tea. We recommend the Rose Paradise tea. It is full rosy goodness and strawberry sweetness. To add the cherry to the top, it creates a beautifully soft pink tea, perfect for your instagram feed!
Does it feel like you can never escape flu season? Or maybe you’re finding it impossible to recover from a cough, which doesn’t seem to improve, no matter what you try. If this describes what you’re going through, fret not – here are five herbal teas that may just do the trick.
Chamomile tea increases your urinary levels of hippurate which have been associated with increased antibacterial activity. Chamomile also promotes the production of white blood cells, which are able to fight infections. This is why the tea appears is a go-to immunity booster, and can fight ailments associated with colds. If you wish to get yourself a flavourful cup of chamomile tea, get Nilufer Tea's Orange & Chamomile tea. With a strong presence of citrus fruits and chamomile, you'll definitely be relaxing and feeling better. You can get it here.
A particular type of polyphenols called catechins, which are antioxidant-rich organic chemicals, are believed to be responsible for the immune-boosting effects of green tea.
By protecting the immune system against damaging free radicals, green tea keeps your body adept at handling infections from bacteria, parasites, and influenza viruses. It also combats oxidative stress which can damage cells, and prevents autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
Steep green tea for no more than a minute or two in just-below-boiling water. A little lemon and honey can help to tone down its bitterness. Just a side note, however: adding milk will render the polyphenols ineffective.
Holy basil (or tulsi) is a well-known relaxant, but it is also an anti-inflammatory substance, and thus able to improve your immune system to keep your body strong. Holy basil tea can improve congestion, respiratory conditions, and illnesses ranging from mild colds and coughs to bronchitis and asthma. It can also help enhance kidney function and cleanse the body.
The plant has great antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that helps to strengthen the immune system of the user. In fact, there have been recent studies to show that holy basil may help in slowing down the growth of cancerous and diseased cells. Tulsi enhances the immune system, suppresses coughs, and helps to expel out phlegm, providing relief in colds and other respiratory illnesses.
Rooibos tea has 50 times more antioxidants than green tea and these antioxidants are known to thwart free radicals in the body, keeping damaged and cancer-causing cells to a minimum. The antiviral properties of polyphenols also provide an added boost to the immune system because they have anti-inflammatory and antimutagenic qualities, shielding the body from common colds, viruses, and the flu.
Apart from polyphenols, which reduce the detrimental effects of free radicals and cell metabolism, and slow down your body’s aging process, aspalathin and nothofagin are two other vital antioxidants that rooibos tea contains, making it a superior immunity boosting beverage.
Moreover, because of its ability to reduce the impact of oxidative byproducts in your neural pathways, it helps to improve cognitive ability, concentration, and focus.
For a healthy cup of rooibos tea, you can opt for Nilufer Tea's Ginger Rooibos Tea, a blend of rooibos, apple mint, ginger and lemongrass that give rise to its spicy and earthy flavour. Sounds delicious already? Get it here.
Ginseng tea boosts your immune system by enhancing the efficacy of its stress adapters, helping you steer clear of common ailments like colds and flus. Research has shown that ginseng tea helps regulate each individual type of immune cell, including natural killer cells, macrophages, dendritic cells, and B and T cells.
Furthermore, the antimicrobial compounds in ginseng help to defend the body against viral and bacterial infections and cleanses bacteria in the blood, kidneys, and spleen. Ginseng also inhibits the growth of viruses. Moreover, the miraculous adaptogenic properties of the herb functions to rejuvenate dead skin cells in older people.
So if you feel a cold or cough coming on (especially after eating way too many CNY goodies), you know what to do!
Written by: Anna Fernandez
Your morning routine sets the tone of the day- A rushed and stressful morning may leave you feeling like you spent the whole day running around. On the other hand, an early morning with ample time to get prepared ensures you feel collected enough to face the pressing needs of the day. Having a cup of organic herbal tea in your mornings is a great way to complement a your morning and increase your vitality for the day.
This tea is packed with amazing benefits that will do wonders for your health and beauty. Peppermint tea acts as an appetite suppressant, which will keep your early morning hunger pangs at bay. With the natural sweet taste of peppermint, this tea will definitely brighten up your morning and make it easier for you to eat healthy.
With anti-inflammatory properties, organic peppermint tea can help clear up your skin and calm any stomach pains. If you wake up feeling any nausea or queasiness, a cup of peppermint tea can relieve these symptoms. This herbal tea is a quick fix to any abdominal bloating or cramps, so if you experience any stomach discomfort, perhaps try a brew of organic peppermint tea.
Organic peppermint tea not only treats the symptoms of feeling ill, this herbal tea also boosts your immune systems and prevents you from falling sick in the first place!
While this calming herbal tea makes for a great bedtime brew, it can also be drunk in the morning. If you find yourself feeling anxious and stressed preparing for the day, try swapping your coffee for chamomile tea.
Made from flowers, this sedative tea can calm your frazzled nerves and ease digestion. By soothing the stomach, chamomile tea acts as a natural cure for any indigestion problems, nausea or abdominal pains. The clean, mild taste of this herbal tea is guaranteed to clear your mind so you can start the day feeling relaxed and in control.
Packed with antioxidants, green tea is great to incorporate into your morning routine. Japanese green tea strengthens tissue cells in the body, which guards against symptoms of ageing. This tea helps cells protect against damage due to pollutants.
The antioxidants found in green tea also increases the body’s metabolism. More fat is used as fuel and this improves muscle endurance, making it easier to sustain long work days. With an urban hectic lifestyle, organic green tea is a great way to ensure we maintain our health and youthful skin.
A cup of earl grey tea is a quick way to perk up in the mornings. While the caffeine is lower than coffee, a cup of earl grey tea will power you through busy mornings. The caffeine in this tea will also relax your busy and put your mind at ease, ensuring you stay calm and collected during stressful days.
This black tea is flavoured with the oil from the rind of a bergamot orange and unlike coffee, it keeps your body hydrated. Earl grey’s high potassium levels maintains the level of body fluids.
Earl grey tea also contains anti-viral properties that guard against the common cold. The high amount of antioxidants will also help fight free radicals to ensure your skin stays glowing. A cup of this tea every morning will go a long way in boosting your immune system and revitalising your skin!
High in anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants, organic rooibos tea will help protect your cells from damage by free radicals and help ward off illnesses. Having a brew of red rooibos tea in the morning will go a long way in keeping healthy as the antioxidants present prevent wrinkles from forming and protects hair follicles from damage, keeping your locks shiny.
Red rooibos tea also increases production of a hormone called leptin that makes you feel fuller faster and boosts metabolism. This tea is great to incorporate into a weight loss regimen to boost metabolism.
With a wide array of brews to choose from, tea makes for a great morning companion. What’s a greater way to start the day than with a cup of tea, knowing you’re making the best choices for your health.