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The Qinling Mountain Tea Series - Part 1: What is Tea?


Xi'an and Tea

I'm in Xi'an, a city of great significance that has nurtured the cradle of Chinese civilization. From the era of Qin Shihuang, who unified six states, to the illustrious Tang Dynasty, a source of pride for Chinese worldwide, Xi'an has been the capital of these flourishing dynasties. Nestled at the northern foothills of the Qinling Mountains, Xi'an has a rich historical tapestry and marks the starting point of the ancient Silk Road. In times past, the exchange of Chinese tea for spices and silver from other countries across the Eurasian continent laid the foundation for a unique and age-old trade route.

Dusk in the ancient city of Xi'an
The Terracotta Army of Qin Shihuang

Five years ago, when I embarked on the journey of the tea business, I was captivated by the various high-quality teas produced in the southern reaches of the Qinling Mountains near Xi'an. Though mysterious and lesser-known in China and globally, these teas boast exceptional quality. Henceforth, I am prepared to initiate a series of blogs delving into the origins of Qinling Mountain tea and the diverse range of teas it produces. These insights will prove enlightening and beneficial to you, dear reader.

Fuzhuan Tea

The Qinling Mountain Tea Series - Part 1: What is Tea?
The Qinling Mountain Tea Series - Part 2: China Tea and World
The Qinling Mountain Tea Series - Part 3: Tea Cultivation History in China
The Qinling Mountain Tea Series - Part 4: Six Chinese Tea Types
The Qinling Mountain Tea Series - Part 5: About Mountain Tea
The Qinling Mountain Tea Series - Part 6: What is Qinling Mt.
The Qinling Mountain Tea Series - Part 7: Teas From Qinling Mt.
The Qinling Mountain Tea Series - Part 8: Qinling Green Tea
The Qinling Mountain Tea Series - Part 9: Qinling Black Tea
The Qinling Mountain Tea Series - Part 10: Qinling Fu Tea

The Qinling Mountain Tea Series - Part 1: What is Tea?

According to legend, tea leaves, with a rich history dating back thousands of years, originated in China around 2737 B.C. It is said that Emperor Shennong accidentally discovered tea when a tea leaf fell into his boiling water, releasing an enticing aroma. Although this tale lacks concrete evidence, it reflects the enduring history of tea in Chinese culture.

The cultivation and manufacturing of tea have detailed historical records in China, notably found in "The Divine Farmer's Materia Medica." This ancient text contains descriptions of tea tree cultivation and tea leaf processing, indicating that the basic techniques were already established in ancient times. Subsequently, tea culture in China continued to evolve, becoming an integral part of traditional Chinese culture.

The primary ingredients of tea are the tender leaves and buds of the tea tree, containing rich components such as tea polyphenols, caffeine, and amino acids. Scientific research has shown that tea polyphenols possess powerful antioxidant properties, positively preventing cardiovascular diseases and cancer (Chen et al., 2018). Caffeine, a natural stimulant present in tea, aids in enhancing alertness and mental clarity.

The processing methods for tea vary depending on the type of tea. For instance, green tea retains its vibrant green color through procedures such as fixation and rolling. In contrast, black tea undergoes fermentation, resulting in its characteristic reddish-brown appearance and unique aroma. These processing techniques not only influence the appearance and taste of tea but also impact its chemical composition, thereby determining its quality (Wang et al., 2019).

The quality of tea is also influenced by its place of origin. As the birthplace of tea, China boasts a diverse range of tea varieties and production regions, including renowned types like Biluochun and West Lake Longjing. Countries such as India, Sri Lanka, and Japan, with their unique climates and soil conditions, cultivate tea varieties with distinct characteristics.

In conclusion, tea, as an ancient and significant beverage, has a fascinating history, composition, and processing techniques that have been subject to extensive research. With its rich content and diverse expressions, tea culture has not only been passed down for centuries in China. Still, it has also spread and developed globally, becoming a valuable part of human civilization. In the modern era, tea is a delicious beverage and a cultural treasure worthy of in-depth exploration.


  1. Chen, S., et al. (2018). Antioxidant activity of tea polyphenols and their application in preventing cardiovascular diseases. Food Research and Development, 39(10).
  2. Wang, M., et al. (2019). Study on the chemical composition changes during tea processing. Tea Science Research, 40(3).
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