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Tea in Asia
Author£ºColourful Tea    Time£º2007-3-31    Hits£º952

It is believed that tea was discovered in 2737 b.c. by Shen Nong, a Chinese Emperor. There are two different stories of how tea was discovered. According to Chinese literature, Shen Nong was the founding father of today's Chinese herbal medicine and agriculture. Shen Nong was a scientist who invented and designed the way that Chinese's agriculture work for the past few thousand years. In many ways, Shen Nong was the person who started Chinese's civilization. The two stories about tea was discovered are as follows.

Shen Nong suffered food poisoning after conducted experiments by tasting wild herbal medicine. His throat was dried and had severe stomach pain. While trying to recover from food poisoning, he found some leaves falling from trees. He picked some up and put in his mouth hoping that the pain would be disappeared. Not only did he find that the pain was disappeared, he also find the leaves to have special flavor that could hardly be described. The tea was not only a medicine, it was also a very good vegetable.

Tea was always as one of the Chinese medicine until around 3rd or 4th centuries that tea became a beverage. Tea originally was for “rich and powerful‿people only because it was rare and hard to get. Around 3rd centuries and 7th centuries, tea became more and more popular and affordable in China. After 7th centuries, tea finally took over wine's place and became the most popular beverage among Chinese.

Tea and Buddhist religion were inseparable in ancient China. In Buddhism, mediation is a must for a Buddhist to think and understand the nature and God (Buddha). A Buddhist must think “nothing‿and see “nothing‿but the peaceful nature, the clear sky and the tranquil nature scene in mind. It is the scene of peaceful nature that will bring Buddhist closer to Buddha and understand Buddhism. Tea is by no means a mediation medicine. However, it is very important for people who want to taste the sweetness behind the bitter in tea to have a peaceful mind. Every tea has different flavor and sweetness. A slightly difference in flavor and sweetness is in many ways a great difference between a good tea and a mediocre one. The philosophy in tea tasting is very much parallel with Buddhist philosophy in mediation. It should not be come as a surprise that tea became big parts of the Buddhist religion in ancient China. Between 6th to 7th Centuries, there were many foreign students in China from Japan and Korea. Most of the foreign students at that time were Buddhist priests who studied Buddhism. It was around that time that tea was brought to Japan and Korea. In Japan, tea ceremony was developed into “Chado‿ In Korea, the tea ceremony was developed into “ch'a-rye‿

In Japan, the tea Ceremony has been preserved for thousand of years. It has become big parts of the Japanese culture. Today, people look at Japanese as an advanced technology power house and overlook Japanese's spiritual nature. Japanese are strong believers of overcoming human's physical shortcomings with strong mind and well. This philosophy has not been changed much over Japanese history. The “Chado‿was translated as “The way of tea‿by westerners. It is in my opinion, it is more appropriate to translate “Chado‿as “The philosophy of tea‿ There are four basic principles in “Chado‿that are WA (Harmony), KEI (Respect), SEI (Purity) and JYAKU (Tranquility). These four principles guide the philosophy of tea that called “Chado‿ The four principles are not only significant for “Chado‿but also significant for Buddhist religion. The significant of the 4 principles in Buddhist is “clean‿ Set your mind "clean" of disturbance, pollution and human desires. What make Japanese successful today has a lot to do with their believes in "concentration" and "discipline" of mind and spirit. The tea ceremony of Japan although was originally from China, the "Chado" however, is completely Japanese. No one can take credits of "Chado" but Japanese and "Japanese only.

In Korea, the tea culture has not been so consistent. The tea culture was actually disappeared for hundred of years unti1 recently, some Korean recognize the importance of this missing culture. They work diligently to revive the tea culture back in Korea. Today, the tea ceremony in Korea is called "Panyaro". The word "Panyaro" can be translated as 'Dew of Enlightening Wisdom. It is highly spiritual and beautiful in the word of "Panyaro". The philosophy behind the "Panyaro" is highly spiritual. The "Panyaro" is actually "Ch'a-rye" of the modern day. Ho\v well call "Panyaro" do in Korea? Considering the western culture impacts in Korean. They might still have a tough task ahead of them.

Taiwan has always been a cultural melting pot. Taiwan was occupied by Prot4g6e around 400 hundred years ago. At the beginning of Ching Dynasty, Taiwan finally returned to the Mainland China. At around 1885, Taiwan "was occupied by Japanese. After World War II, Taiwan returned to Chinese government. To date, many of the Taiwanese old timers still speak fluent Japanese. Many of the Taiwanese businessmen are still conducting business the "Japanese Style". Night partying after work with the clients is very common in Taiwan. After heavy drinking, tea is a must and the best. The tea culture in Taiwan however, is not as much of the "Buddhist inside" as Japanese has. In Taiwan, drinking tea is an art and philosophy. The art and philosophy of tea drinking in Taiwan is still following Chinese tradition that has not been changed much for thousand of years. Many of today's Taiwanese's philosophy in tea is in many aspects complied with Ch"a Ching (an instruction book of tea drinking. The book was published in 800 A.D. by Lu Yu). Taiwan produces the highest grade Oolong tea in the world. The 1st class Oolong tea from Taiwan in many cases is sold for a minimum of $600.00/1b to $700.0/1b. Most of the tea farmers in Taiwan are family traditions that have been just for half generations. Every year, there are a few tea competitions in Taiwan. The best tea that is selected from the competitors is called "Champion Tea of the year". What is the reward for the "Champion Tea of the year" in Taiwan? Well, go look at the price tags for the "Champion Tea of the year" and you can figure this one out real quick.

The 1st European to write about tea was Jasper De Cruz in 1560. The tea however did not become popular in Europe until around 1635 to 1675. Adding of milk in tea however, was not known in literatures until 1680. Tile tea was not popular in US until around 1700. The tea bags were invented as sample tea by the tea merchants around 1908 (It was believed to be invented by Thomas Sullivan of New York). Iced tea was also believed to be invented by American around 1904.

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