Old Art of Tea –Ending
The fact that loose-leaf tea finally triumphed made the appearance of a variety of famous teas possible. Tea leaves were processed with much more attention paid to the outer look and inner quality of the tea. Various methods of tea processing were worked out through experiments. The consequence was the emergence of a diversified array of processed teas, such as scented tea (flower tea), black tea, red tea and green tea.
Another important contribution to China's tea culture made during the Ming Dynasty was the great amount of scholarly research on tea. The Encyclopedia of Tea (Chave Quanshu) by Wan Guoding says that more than 50 kinds of books focusing on tea were published during the dynasty, almost half the number of books about tea published from the Tang Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. The literary elite of the Ming Dynasty cherished an intimate emotional bond with tea. The practice of making tea not with tea cakes but with tea leaves,which laid more emphasis on tea's true nature, was in harmony with late Ming intellectuals pursuit of returning to Nature and seeking a true and simple spiritual world. Writers and poets of the age were inspired to produce memorable literary works, while many painters chose to express their attachment to the lifestyle embodied by tea-drinking through painting.
The tea industry continued to prosper throughout the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Both the tea-growing areas and the annual output of the product increased greatly, and tea exports reached historic highs in the middle and late periods of the dynasty. The booming domestic and overseas markets provided merchants from Anhui, Shanxi and Guangdong with a grand stage to perform on, and many a trader made a fortune out of tea. Tea stores and teahouses sprang up all over China, as tea culture became a regular part of the people's daily life. The tea industry had entered a new era of commercialization.