Archive for the ‘Culture Information’ Category

You could learn many things about Chinese culture and Chinese philosophy by looking into the Chinese written characters. Tea is a good example. For a few days I have been wondering, what does “tea” in Chinese character (Cha – 茶) means. Does it only mean “tea”, the drink we all love to drink?

The question rose while I was cooking ginger “tea” and writing this post. I noticed that not everything called “tea” in China has tea leaves in it, why ancient Chinese named all those drinks as “tea”?

One of my twitter friends who leads a publishing company in Taiwan suggested:

“maybe tea in ancient China means any drink in which plants are cooked with water”.

What an Interesting guess!

To me this interpretation really makes sense! Many Chinese medicine cook herbs in water, and the legendary creator of Chinese medicine also once “tasted hundreds of plants and herbs” to learn their functions to human body. Obviously, drinking “water cooked with plants” has been a way of living for thousands of years for Chinese, with “tea” be one of them!

Let’s look at “tea” written in Chinese character. It also reveals important cultural information and how Chinese think of tea:

On the top is a common part in Chinese characters which generally means “plants” or “grass”:

On the bottom is a common part in Chinese characters which means “woods” and “trees”:

In the middle is the word which means “human”, “person”:

Combining those parts together, you could see clearly: a person stands right in the middle of trees, woods and plants, and that’s exactly where he should be: to be part of nature. Drinking tea is thus a way of going back to the harmony of nature for Chinese. Having tea leaves or not, tea is never just tea. Tea is a way of living. Tea is Tao.

Related post: Winter tip – Have many cups of ginger tea Winter tip – Red Date & Longan tea

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