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Why are Chinese so fascinated with tea?
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File photo: Drinking tea

File photo: Drinking tea

ANCHOR: We're now joined by our reporter Wang Mangmang in the studio to talk more about tea. Hello Mangmang, why are Chinese so fascinated with tea?

MM: Well, the practice of drinking tea has a long history in China. The popular legend says tea was discovered by Emperor Shennong in ancient China. At first, tea was used as a ritual offering. Then tea leaves were eaten as a vegetable, or even used as medicine. Until the Han Dynasty more than two thousand years ago, tea was a new drink. Some classify tea into four categories, white, green, oolong and black, while others also add scented and compressed teas. Among all those, green tea is the most popular. Tea is produced in vast areas in China, from Hainan Island down in the extreme south to Shandong Province, from Tibet in the southwest to Taiwan across the Straits.

ANCHOR: Among all the varieties of teas, why do people pay particular attention to when the spring tea goes into market?

MM: In the southern parts of the country, tea harvested before Qingming is called spring tea. It's the first tea leaving factories throughout the year, and is of the best quality. The plant can be easily affected by bad weather, such as low temperatures and lack of rainfall. Take 2010 for example, nearly half of the tea-producing areas were hit by sudden snow and drought in the previous winter. The picking time was postponed, and output fell about 20 percent. This year may be a similar situation. And we'll still have to wait till the end of this month to have a good cup of tea.

(CNTV, March 25, 2011)

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