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The item of traditional tea processing techniques and associated social practices in China has recently been added to the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage for Humanity, becoming the 43rd Chinese item on the list. The item consists of knowledge, skills, and practices concerning the management of tea plantations, picking of tea leaves, manual processing, drinking, and sharing of tea.


China's traditional tea processing techniques are mainly concentrated in four tea-growing areas in the south of Huaihe River in Qinling Mountains and east of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, namely South and North of the Yangtze River, and Southwest and South China. Based on natural conditions and local customs, tea producers have developed six categories of tea as well as reprocessed teas such as flower-scented teas through core skills like enzyme inactivation, fermentation and scenting.



There are more than 2,000 varieties of tea for people to drink in China, thus forming different customs.  Thegongfu tea in Chaozhou City in South China shows a complete form of Chinese tea ceremony with its ritual made up by 21 brewing techniques. The three-course tea of the Bai ethnic minority need to be personally served by the most prestigious elders in the family. When people of Yao ethnic minority entertain guests, local women make oil tea and sing folk songs by the fireplace.


By making, brewing and tasting tea, the Chinese people have enriched their spiritual world and enhanced moral cultivation. Lu Yu of the Tang Dynasty, known as the Sage of Tea, elevated tea drinking to a spiritual activity in the Classic of Tea, the first monograph on tea in the world. He believed that tea drinkers were virtuous people who pursue the supreme truth. Once a job done by minors, tea brewing has become a popular experience among children in today's China. Via tea, they learn about etiquettes, ponder over life philosophy, and have their mind nourished amidst the aroma of tea.  



Driven and promoted by tea culture, China's tea industry is also developing at a fast clip. Thousands of years ago, there were the Tea Horse Road and The Great Tea Road to serve the trade of tea and others. Nowadays, when visiting the Dong and Miao ethnic township of Baotian in central China's Hunan Province, one can see rolling mountains covered with tealeaves. The villagers have adapted to local conditions to develop a tea industry and sell related products overseas. They have also developed tea-based tourism, which also boosts rural revitalization.



The vitality of intangible cultural heritage is more reflected in its existence and inheritance. China has formulated relevant protection projects to encourage inheritors to teach students and pass on their skills in the traditional way, and to carry out coordinated protection actions by relying on institutions to train specialized talents.



China is the hometown of tea, and the inclusion of the encyclopedic Chinese tea into the world cultural intangible heritage list will help the world deepen its understanding of the fine traditional Chinese culture, and build the cultural foundation for a community with a shared future for mankind.