“Chinese Tea: Elixir of the Orient”

little girl drinking.jpg

GPB and Confucius Institute at KSU documentary airs April 26 KENNESAW, Ga. (April 19, 2016)—A…

Georgia (Apr 19, 2016)

GPB and Confucius Institute at KSU documentary airs April 26

KENNESAW, Ga. (April 19, 2016)—A new five-part documentary exploring the all-important role of tea in Chinese culture will premiere Tuesday, April 26 at 8 p.m. on Georgia Public Broadcasting Television. The Confucius Institute at Kennesaw State University (CIKSU) and GPB partnered to produce the series.

“Chinese Tea: Elixir of the Orient” will take viewers to China to explore how tea became an integral part of the country’s culture and evolved to become its signature drink, consumed at least three times daily by rich, poor, young and old in China. The documentary also brings viewers back home to Georgia to visit local teahouses and experience homegrown tea culture. View a trailer of the documentary here.

“Creating this informative documentary in collaboration with GPB has been a wonderful opportunity to share an important aspect of Chinese life, culture and history,” said Ken Jin, CIKSU’s founding director and senior executive producer for the documentary. “For the Chinese, tea drinking is so much more than consuming a beverage. It is deeply integrated into traditional and modern culture and represents the lifestyles, values, philosophy and beliefs of Chinese people.”   

The documentary highlights the importance of tea in China’s spiritual and economic life, and in the health of its people. Currently, China produces more than one-third of the world’s tea and is home to more than 90,000 teahouses.

As the documentary notes, China’s tea culture is shared among people across the globe. Today, tea is the most popular beverage in the world behind water and is grown in 61 countries and consumed regularly in some 100 countries. The U.S. has become the second largest importer of tea (behind Russia), with more than 100 million Americans regularly enjoying the beverage.

Viewers will experience the ritual use of tea in China’s religious and cultural practices. In Taoism, for example, tea was believed to help people defy mortality and become celestial beings. Tea is also an important part of the marriage ceremony in China, and thought to impart longevity and vitality to couples.

The documentary also explores the role of tea in traditional Chinese medicine, depicting its use in detoxifying the body, promoting blood circulation and losing weight.

Steve Carey, GPB’s vice president of production, served as the documentary’s executive producer with Ashley Mengwasser, who also wrote the script and co-directed it with Kevan Ward.

“This is an amazing story about the culture, history, and humanity that is held in a simple cup of tea,” Carey said. “GPB has the extraordinary privilege of presenting the backstory about one of the most widely consumed drinks in the world. From the people who produce it, to ancient ceremonies still used to prepare it, the leaves of tea provide an exciting introduction to Chinese civilization.”  

GPB will air an encore of “Chinese Tea: Elixir of the Orient” Sunday, May 1 at 2 p.m.

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— Sabbaye McGriff with GPB’s Mandy Wilson

Photos courtesy of Georgia Public Broadcasting


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu