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Tea Imperium

With the first morning light beams through the window, tea farmer picks up fruity leaves on top of tea trees. Those dewy leaves are the most tender part of trees and will be processed through fermentation and frying. After five or seven steps, tea is born.

As coffee for Americans, tea is an essential part of Chinese lives. The magic leaves can turn a cup of insipid water into a wonderful beverage. There are five main categories of tea with numerous subcategories, which are green tea, white tea, yellow tea, oolong tea, and black tea. In China, the original tea-growing country, tea is for either civilian or noble.

Dating back to 2731B.C., people drink tea for medical reasons. Gradually, the function transfers from sterilization to daily drink. Tea could assist digestion and bring pleasure. That explains why people are fond of consuming them after meals. Smokers also believe that the tea polyphenol in it could discharge the nicotine of their bodies. The status of the drink was elevated by the first tea scholar Lu Yu after the publishment of his book“The classic art of tea” in the 8th century. The best-seller gives several regulations of tea appreciation. Premium tea is supposed to be preserved in porcelain jugs and brewed with slowing-moving streams. The ideal drinking place is the pavilion next to the water lily pond in a company of at least a desirable woman. The complicated tea ceremony indicates its noble status.

Tea is also an indispensable part of the culinary culture. Believe it or not. You will always be served a big pot of tea once you visit dim sum restaurant. The default free choice is jasmine. Pricy options such as oolong, pu-erh, and dragon well come with higher tips. Without a cup of tea, Dim Sum, the small-sized portion of food on the steamer basket, is so lonely. Cantonese love to say “yum cha”, meaning “drinking tea”, to refer they are planning to enjoy dim sum.  The importance of the beverage is in the banquet is obvious. There are some interesting customs about drinking tea in dim sum restaurants. If you tilt the teapot lid and rest it sideways on the rims of the teapot opening, waiters will refill water immediately. When someone pours tea in your empty cup, you should tap two fingers to show the thankfulness. The gesture originates from the emperor of the Qing dynasty. For covering his identity during a private visit, the emperor served tea for his servant. To show respect, the wise boy shows his appreciation by tapping two fingers.

Besides, tea is widely used as the condiment of cuisines. Street food tea egg is a good example. Preserved with tea and other spice, the special aroma of tea leaves permeates through cracks of eggshells. Another popular among millennials is bubble tea, a drink mixed with milk and tea. Dragon well tea shrimp is a dish featuring the special condiment. In the preparation, tea leaves have to be picked up around of Qingming festival when the rain is ample enough to private the perfect humidity fir leaves. Matched with plump shrimps from local rivers, the cuisine is famous in gourmet groups.