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Cuisine & Drink

Introduction Of Cuisine & Drink  
Chinese Cuisine

The development and diversity of the delights of Chinese cuisine are also representative of China's long history. With each dynasty new recipes were created until the art of food preparation reach its peak during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). The dinner called Man Han Quan Xi that incorporates all the very best of Man and Han Cuisine is held in high esteem involving as it does countless dishes, each with its own distinctive flavor and appeal. This veritable banquet in its preparation and presentation typifies all of the culture and culinary arts that have been perfected over centuries and is a comprehensive amalgam of taste, instruments, and manners.

It is no exaggeration to say that Chinese cuisine is dainty, in its items, esthetics, atmosphere, and effects.

Eight Cuisines: The diversity of geography, climate, costumes and products have led to the evolution of what are called the 'Four Flavors' and 'Eight Cuisines' but as catering is a living art sub-classifications continue to increase. For example in each field of cuisine, adept chefs can utilize something as simple as a melon to create dozens of dishes with dozens of flavors. Meanwhile, local specialties and snacks with their origins steeped in the mists of time are also an important progeny and indicate a profound philosophy and taste. As well as the cuisine of the majority Han people, the many minorities have their own fantastic traditions and appeal.

Cuisine in China is a harmonious integration of color, redolence, taste, shape and the fineness of the instruments. For the cooking process, chefs pick choice and various ingredients and seasonings while employing unparalleled complicated skills handed down from their fathers, ever aspiring to their ideal of perfection for all the senses. Among the many cooking methods they use are boiling, stewing, braising, frying, steaming, crisping, baking, and simmering and so on. When they finish their masterpieces they are arranged on a variety of plates and dishes so that they are a real pleasure to view, to smell and ultimately to savor. The facility to partake of these delights is also distinctive - chopsticks! To see even the smallest child eat with such dexterity is quite amazing for many foreigners. The use of two simple sticks in this way is an art in itself and chopsticks have determined the way in which Chinese food is presented at table.

Cuisine can rise to many different occasions from luxury court feasts, fetes, holy sacrificial rites, joyous wedding ceremonies to simple daily meals and snacks. The art of a good cook is to provide a wholesome and satisfying dish to suit the occasion.

Chinese Medicinal Cuisine : Good cuisine has the effect of prolonging life, sustaining the constitution and promoting energy and in this respect bears some relationship to Chinese medicine.

Food Culture : Just as the ingredients of each dish and presentation is important, table manners and courtesy among diners are very much part of the Chinese cultural tradition. Only by combining excellent food with good manners can the high art of Chinese cuisine be truly enjoyed to the full.

Minority Cuisine : It also has their own flavor and appeal in our ethnic groups, which is quite distinctive.

Tea History

Chinese people are believed to have enjoyed tea drinking for more than 4,000 years. Legend has it that Yan Di, one of three rulers in ancient times, tasted all kinds of herbs to find medical cures. One day,as he was being poisoned by some herb he had ingested; a drop of water from a tea tree dripped into his mouth and he was saved. For a long time, tea was used as an herbal medicine. During the Western Zhou Dynasty, tea was a religious offering. During the Spring and Autumn Period, people ate fresh tea leaves as vegetables. With the popularization of Buddhism from the Three Kingdoms to the Northern and Southern Dynasties, tea's refreshing effect made it a favorite among monks in Za-Zen meditation.

Tea as a drink prospered during the Tang Dynasty, and tea shops became popular. A major event of this time was the completion of Tea Classics, the cornerstone of Chinese tea culture, by Lu Yu, Tea Sage of China,. This little book details rules concerning various aspects of tea, such as growth areas for tea trees, wares and skills for processing tea, tea tasting, the history of Chinese tea and quotations from other records, comments on tea from various places, and notes on what occasions tea wares should be complete and when some wares could be omitted.

Tinted by the cultural style of the Song Dynasty, tea culture at this time was delicate and sumptuous. New skills created many different ways to enjoy tea. The Ming Dynasty laid the foundation for tea processing, tea types and drinking styles that we have inherited.

During the Qing Dynasty folk art entered tea shops, making them popular entertainment centers. This habit is still practiced in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.

During the Tang Dynasty, a Japanese monk brought tea seeds from Zhejiang Province to Japan. Later in the Southern Song Dynasty, Zen masters brought tea procedures and tea wares from China to Japan, promoting the initiation of the Japanese tea ceremony. In the Song Dynasty, Arabic merchants exported tea from Quanzhou, Fujian Province. In the Ming Dynasty, tea was sold to Southeast Asian and South African countries. In 1610 tea went to Europe via Macau in a Dutch merchant ship. Thus tea became an international drink.

Chinese Alcohol

Alcohol is part of Chinese folklore and in modern China alcohol still remains an important role in this folklore, despite many social vicissitudes. It still appears in almost all social activities, the most common occasions being birthday parties for seniors, wedding feasts and sacrifice ceremonies, where liquor must be the main drink to show happiness or respect.

In ancient China, since alcohol was regarded as a sacred liquid it was only used when people made sacrificial offerings to Heaven, Earth or significant ancestors. After the Zhou Dynasty, alcohol was deemed as one of the Nine Rites and every Dynasty since, placed heavy emphasis on alcohol administration, setting up special ministries to manage alcohol production and banqueting. Later, along with the development of zymotechnics and brewery, alcohol became much more of an ordinary, everyday drink. Thus, many of the daily customs involving alcohol evolved.

Classification: will give you an idea of Chinese alcohol family.

Alcohol and social activities: enables people of different cultural backgrounds to understand the Chinese alcohol culture and folklore.

Drinking game (Jiuling): is a very traditional Chinese game. Learning the cultural facts of the game may spark your interest for drinking in China. It is much more interesting than dicing.

Drinking vessels: made by the Chinese people across centuries, enable people to appreciate the exquisite Chinese craftsmanship and acquire tips for drinking alcohol in China. 

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Teahouses in Old Beijing
The Beijing teahouse came into vogue in late years of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), with a great variety, such as green-tea, book-telling, wild, and wine teahouses.
Famous Teahouses in modern Beijing
Savoring tea is an absolute enjoyment. In recent years, teahouses have sprung up in Beijing and have attracted an increasing number of customers with their exquisite tea wares, pleasant surroundings, and fabulous tea ceremony shows.
Anhui Cuisine
Anhui cuisine (Hui Cai for short), one of the eight most famous cuisines in China, features the local culinary arts of Huizhou. It comprises the specialties of South Anhui, Yanjiang and Huai Bei. The highly distinctive characteristic of Anhui cuisine lies not only in the elaborate choices of cooking materials but also in the strict control of cooking process.
Beijing Cuisine
People also call it the Capital City cuisine. Beijing was the capital city for the Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties. Except for the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), all the rulers of these dynasties were from northern nomadic tribes.
Chaozhou Cuisine
Chaozhou is the name of a coastal region around the Shantou district of eastern Guangdong Province. One of the major schools in Guangdong cuisine, Chaozhou cuisine originated from Chaoshan Plain about one thousand years ago.
Fujian Cuisine
Fujian cuisine, also called Min Cai for short, holds an important position in China's culinary art. Fujian's economy and culture began flourishing after the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). During the middle Qing Dynasty around 18th century, famous Fujian officials and literati promoted the Fujian cuisine so it gradually spread to other parts of China.
Guangdong Cuisine
Guangdong cuisine, known as Cantonese cuisine in the West, originates from China's southern province Guangdong and develops in Guangzhou, Huizhou and Chaozhou of Guangdong Province and Hainan Island.
Henan Cuisine
Henan cuisine, also known as Yu cuisine, has the accolade of being one of China's most traditional and oldest cooking styles. As the representative of culinary civilization of Central China, Henan cuisine has preserved traditions and made great innovations.
Huai-Yang Cuisine
Huai-Yang Cuisine originated from the Pre-Qin Period (221-206BC), became famous during the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) Dynasties, and was recognized as a distinct regional style during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. This cuisine includes dishes from Huai'an, Yangzhou, Suzhou, and Shanghai.
Hubei Cuisine
Hubei cuisine consists of dishes from Wuhan, Jinnan, Xiangyun and Southeast Hubei. Wuhan cuisine originated in an area where there is a major-scale inland fishery.
Hunan Cuisine
Also known as Xiang Cai, Hunan cuisine has already developed into a famous culinary school in China. Hunan dishes consist of local dishes from the Xiangjiang River area, Dongting Lake area and Western Hunan mountain area.
Jiangsu Cuisine
Jiangsu cuisine, also known as Su Cai for short, is one of the major components of Chinese cuisine, and consists of the styles of Yangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou and Zhenjiang dishes. It is very famous in the whole world for its distinctive style and taste. It is especially popular in the lower reach of the Yangtze River.
Liaoning Cusine
Liaoning cuisine, originated from Shenyang City and developed on the basis of Shandong cuisine, and was later strongly influenced by the Manchu cooking style and foreign dishes, especially Japanese food, Korean food and Russian food. Such a combination makes Liaoning cuisine unique in color, aroma and taste. It is characterized by its use of strong flavors, salt and oil. It also pays attention to different cooking techniques and to the complexity of shapes.
Shaanxi Cuisine
Shaanxi cuisine is represented by Guanzhong, south Shaanxi and north Shaanxi cuisine styles. Shaanxi Province occupies an important position in the development history of Chinese culture. Its cooking techniques can be traced back to Yangshao Culture period.
Sichuan Cuisine
Of the eight major schools of China's culinary art, Sichuan cuisine is perhaps the most popular. Originating in Sichuan Province of westernChina, Sichuan cuisine, known as Chuan Cai in Chinese, enjoys an international reputation for beingspicy and flavorful.
Yunnan Cuisine
Known as "the kingdom of plants and animals", Yunnan is home to a rich variety of foods. As a province with 26 different ethnic groups, the variety of cuisines is an important attraction for tourists.
Zhejiang Cuisine
Zhejiang cuisine, also called Zhe Cai for short, is one of the eight famous culinary schools in China. Comprising the specialties of Hangzhou, Ningbo and Shaoxing in Zhejiang Province regarded as land of fish and rice, Zhejiang cuisine, not greasy, wins its reputation for freshness, tenderness, softness, and smoothness of its dishes with mellow fragrance. Hangzhou cuisine is the most famous one among the three.
Beijing Roast Duck
Beijing Roast Duck enjoys the reputation of being the most delicious food in Beijing, and it is a dish well known among gastronomes all over the world.
Chongqing Hotpot
Hotpot is the most famous and favorite dish in Chongqing. Chongqing local people consider the hotpot a local specialty, which is noted for its peppery and hot taste, scalding yet fresh and tender. Nowadays, as a matter of fact, Chongqing hotpot is famous and popular all over the country.
Complete Manchu-Han Banquet
In the long history of China's 5000-year civilization, Chinese cuisine can be regarded as one of the richest heritages handed down from the ancestors.
Confucius Food
Food is a very important part of Chinese cultural inheritance.
Luoyang Water Banquet
Luoyang Water Banquet (Luoyang Shuixi), also called soup banquet, is not simply a drinking test, but one of the most traditional Chinese cuisines.
Tanjia Cuisine
Beijing has many traditional cuisine specialties, including Beijing Roast Duck, Mongolian hotpot, Muslim barbecue, and Beijing traditional folk food. Tanjia cuisine is a good example of Beijing's traditional cuisine.
Lantern Festival: Yuan Xiao
The Lantern Festival (or Yuan Xiao Festival in Chinese) is an important traditional Chinese festival, which is on the 15th of the first lunar month, marking the end of celebrations of the New Year.
Double Ninth Festival
The Double Ninth Festival, also named Chong Yang Festival, falls on the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, hence it gets name of Double Ninth Festival. On this day, people would like to drink chrysanthemum wine and have chrysanthemum cakes.
Dragon Boat Festival: Zong Zi
The Dragon Boat Festival (or Duan Wu Festival in Chinese) is on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. It is a day to remember the great poet Qu Yuan, who was a loyal official in the State of Chu in ancient China and deeply loved by his people.
Laba Festival: Laba Rice Porridge
The majority Han Chinese have long followed the tradition of eating Laba rice porridge on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month. The date usually falls in mid-January and is a traditional Chinese festival, called Laba Festival.
Spring Festival: Jiao Zi, Nian Gao & Yuan Xiao
The Spring Festival is the oldest and most important festival in China, celebrating the earth coming back to life. It is a day filled with special events, foods, and festivities. People from north and south have different habits about the food they eat on this special day. Among the food most popular in the south of China is a rice pudding called Nian Gao; while in the north, the special food for Spring Festival is Jiao Zi (or dumpling).
Tomb Sweeping Festival: Cold Food
Haishi Day (or Cold Food Day) is the very day just before the Qingming Festival (also named Tomb Sweeping Festival, or Clear and Bright Festival). On the day every year, no fire or smoke is allowed and people shall eat cold food for the whole day.
2 Tins of Tea and a Wedding
Specifically, the relationship between Chinese tea and marital customs surrounds tea drinking and the customs associated with offering tea to wedding guests.
Categories of Tea
How to Select Excellent Tea
Aside from the variety, tea is classified into grades. Generally, appraisement of tea is based on five principles, namely, shape of the leaf, color of the liquid, aroma, taste and appearance of the infused leaf.
Other Uses of Tea
Tea is a superexcellent drink with wonderful color, scent and taste. Besides its main function as a beverage, tea has various special uses. Some of these uses include:
Tea and Minority Groups
The Three-Course Tea of the Bai ethnic minority is a dramatic tea ceremony. This ceremony was originally held by the senior members of a family to express best wishes to juniors when they were going to pursue studies, learn a skill, start a business or get married. Now, to drink Three-Course Tea has become a conventional ceremony when people of the Bai ethnic minority greet guests.
Tips for Making Tea
Drinking tea is not a difficult task for every one, while to make a good pot of tea is not so easy. There are a number of secrets. With the tea of the same quality, one can have different tastes of tea when using different water, tea sets and brewing techniques.
China, the Homeland of Tea
Of the three major beverages of the world -- tea, coffee and cocoa -- tea is consumed by the largest number of people.
Tea Sets
In China, there are various kinds of exquisite tea sets of both practical and artistic values. Chinese tea sets are well known at home and abroad and favored by tea lovers through the ages.
Tea Ceremony
In modern times, there are three major ways to drink and appreciate tea.
Steps to Make Tea
Heat the pot: Heat the teapot with boiled water to eliminate peculiar smell. Heated pot can help to release the tea scent.
Tea Production
A new tea plant must grow for five years before its leaves can be picked and, at 30 years of age, it will be too old to be productive. The trunk of the old plant must then be cut off to force new stems to grow out of the roots in the coming year. By repeated rehabilitation in this way, a plant may serve for about l00 years.
China's Tea-Producing Areas
Tea is produced in vast areas of China from Hainan Island down in the extreme south to Shandong Province in the north, from Tibet in the southwest to Taiwan across the Straits, totaling more than 20 provinces. These may be divided into four major areas:

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