Phase 1: Posing Real Questions

Updated 2 years 1 month ago

If you read my Phase 0 post, which is right here, you will see that I showed how I narrowed down my inquiry topic selection and why I choose the topic I did. If you need a reminder on what topic I choose, I choose tea as my inquiry project topic. In this Phase, I will detail my prior knowledge of my topic and also create ten questions as a starting point to help further my research on the topic of tea.

Prior Knowledge

I have a decent understanding of the history of tea, knowing that tea was first allegedly thought to be invented after a Chinese queen had a leaf fly into her cup of water, and decided to taste the water. The history of tea after that was that many Asian countries such as Japan and Korea also adopted the drink, making their own forms of tea such as the famous Japanese Green tea. I also know that when Europeans took tea back to their country, it became a huge hit after a certain queen popularized it in France, although I cannot remember who. Countries such as the UK became very fond of tea and even nearly went bankrupt because of how much tea they were buying from China, nearly emptying their silver storages. Because the British nearly emptied their treasury, they resented the Chinese more and more and therefore installed opium into China, causing a large addiction problem and eventually two wars, both which the British won and gave British Hong Kong. I know these facts by just my interest in history, resulting in me going on youtube and looking on videos about certain parts of history, including ones about China and their tea culture. I found that tea specifically fascinated me because even though it was just a drink, it caused countries to go bankrupt and wars to start, which is pretty interesting.

My Interests

The things I want to learn about tea is really how tea plants are grown and made into drinks because although I know the history of the tea very well, I do not have much understanding in the process of tea creation itself. I think I would also want to know how farmers that cultivate tea live; do they live in a house or apartments, where do they live? I would also like to know how others treat the farmers, are they high in the social hierarchy, or lower? An interesting one that I want to know is how the tea farmers think of pre-packaged tea, do they think if the pre-bottled tea is bad for the tea culture or a good way of spreading the Chinese drink around?

I had to do some background research to know a little bit more about my topic, which you can see in my Phase 3.

After doing some research, I have created a list of 10 questions that I will use to guide me through what I want to research and find out. These questions may change over time as I stay in Yunnan and find out more about tea and its culture there. I have also added possible answers to those 10 questions, which are marked in italic

10 Big Questions:

Tea farmers:

1.What teas are Yunnan known for

Yunnan is very known for Dian Hong and Pu-erh.

2.How is Pu'erh tea prepared

It is prepared by first having a purple sand kettle(紫砂杯) with the leaves inside of it brew with hot water, pour it into a fair cup(公道杯), Proceed to pour the tea into the ceramic teacups(瓷杯) through a filter(过滤) to wash it, pour the tea out into a container, repeat the process until the ceramic cups, and drink. The filter helps get rid of tea parts and tea leaves.

3.How is Dian Hong tea prepared

It is prepared by first having a purple sand kettle with the leaves inside of it brew with hot water, pour it into a fair cup, proceed to pour the tea into the ceramic teacups through a filter(过滤) to wash it, pour the tea out to a container, repeat the process until the ceramic cups and drink. The filter helps get rid of any tea leaves or tea parts that otherwise might get into the cup.

4.How is Pu‘erh tea priced

Through age, although specifics unknown. Two trees known as the father tree(公树)and mother tree(母树) are the two oldest puerh tea trees in the world, aging up to 1700 years. one pound of the leaves sold for 320000 RMB last year(50000$).

5.How is Dian Hong tea priced

Dian Hong has three grades, the highest grade contains only roots(牙), the second grade contains both roots and leaves, and the third grade contains(unknown yet). It also matters the age of the tree that the tea came from. It can be separated into three groups, normal 80 years, old 300-500 years, ancient 500-1000 years. The older the trees, the darker and shorter the roots.

Cultivation process

6.What is the process of creating Pu-erh tea from start to finish

The process for Sheng tea is collecting the tea leaves, bake or steam the leaves to a high enough temperature so that harmful organisms die off, rolling the leaves to get more fragrance, and then proceeding to dry the leaves by putting it outside to be dried by the sun. After this process, the tea would get packaged into boxes or bags.

The process for Shou tea is by first being baked, fermented in an area with a certain humidity for a few hours, scrambled, and then the process is repeated until the leaves are 100% fermented, which is measured by a machine. This was originally measured by human sense. A Gause then wraps around the tea, and while being steamed, it gets molded into a shape, pressed into a cake or a ball, dried, and finally sold.

7.What is the process of creating Dian Hong from start to finish

Dian hong tea is fermented to 50%, and the fried to get fragrance out.

Different quality teas
8.What are the different ways to produce tea

Some forms are separated tea leaves, pressed tea, and balls of tea. pressed tea and balls of tea are more popular in modern times. Pressed tea can store much tea in an orderly fashion. A Ball of tea is easy to make and it is also very portable.

9.What are the features of Pu-erh tea

Sheng Pu-erh is good at getting rid of fat, energizing, lowering blood pressure, lowering blood cholesterol, and lowering blood sugar. Shou Pu-erh is good for lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar, but unlike Sheng Pu-erh, it also helps with the stomach.

10.What are the features of Dian Hong tea

Dian Hong is good at warming the stomach and also helping metabolism.

After creating these 10 questions and what I think I know about them, I have realized that I wanted to focus my attention on the two main teas in Yunnan, Dian Hong, and Pu'erh, as these two tea types are very famous in Yunnan and also the fact that I do not drink these teas much and I would love to know more about it.

(See Phase 3 for details)


Now that I know what to research, it is time for me to do some more helpful research. I will do this research in my next Phase, Phase 2.

My name is Sunny, and I was a part of the Voyagers group in microcampus.I'm a gamer, artist, and love building stuff! I chose to join the Microcampus program because I want to become more independent and learn the lesser known cultures of China. The trip was amazing and I hope to come to Xizhou again.