As a Philosophical Concept
In China, Tea was first introduced to common people as a medicine, afterwards as food spices, and later as a new material for drinking. When tea first entered into the daily lives of the common people, tea almost instantly became associated as part of Chinese traditional Daoism.
When tea entered into royal family's life, the royal family branded it with Confucianism; when tea entered into the Buddhist circle to help Buddhist monks meditate, Buddhists dissolved Buddhism into tea pots. So, for Chinese, tea is not just tea, it is a combination of Chinese Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.