The custom of tea drinking in China dates back to the legendary
Shen Nung, who is said to have personally tried hundreds of
grasses and herbs to test their medicinal effects and toxicity.
Tea was a popular drink by the Sung Dynasty (960-1280 A.D.),
and gradually, innovations in the tea drinking custom were
introduced. In addition to a high level of connoisseurship
of the various types of teas and improvements in the quality
of tea leaves, a broad variety of accompaniments to tea drinking
began to appear - dim sum.
In China's ancient agricultural society, people would often
head for a tea house after an exhausting day in the fields.
Here they would mix warm conversation with fine tea and a
tantalizing selection of dim sum. The quantity of each was
kept small-the delicacies were served in tiers of bamboo steamers
or small to medium-sized plates-so that many different varieties
could be sampled. This custom has continued up through present
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