A couple of weeks ago I joined a CCC tour to Beijings largest tea market to learn a bit about Chinese tea culture.
茶 - Chinese character for tea (chá).
Tea is as old as China and said to have spread from here to India and the rest of the world. Outside the market is a statue of Lu Yu, who wrote the first book on growing, preparing and drinking tea in the 8th-century.
Tea was carried to Tibet in 'cakes', during the journey flavour changed and made it taste different.
Tea 'cakes' and tins.
Green tea is more common than black tea (in China called red tea). Tea can be very expensive, sometimes so expensive you cant afford it drink it only give it away. Gifts are important in China.
Preparing white tea, made with buds - often expensive.
Flower tea, chrysantemum or jasmine flowers mixed with green tea is less expensive and common in restaurants, with taxi drivers and with older people.
A tea ceremony is more about tasting tea than how you serve it. As with wine you smell, taste and compare different sorts. The small cups hold just a swig or two (but we drank a lot of them).
Different sorts of tea.leaves. When they are used ou can clearly see the difference.
Tea market is a four-storey building mostly for wholesalers.
After all this I must admit I'm still not a fan of Chinese tea a it's often bitter. But I like some sorts as better than others, like oolong and pu'er.