The Chinese Tea Ceremony
Tea drinking and serving in China can only be described as a true art. It is time to sit, relax and enjoy the taste and aroma of the tea.
The Chinese tea ceremony, is all about the tea itself. The smells and taste are the most important parts of the ceremony, so the principles for brewing and pouring the tea can vary. The cups (small and narrow) are arranged in a circle ready for the pouring.
In the most part, the tea is made in small clay teapots. The pot is thoroughly rinsed with boiling water (the temperature is so important, as if it was to be to hot, it would spoil the taste entirely) and the tea leaves are then put into the pot with a bamboo scoop or chopsticks. This wonderful art of tea making is called “Cha Dao”. This is where the real talent comes into play…after one minute the server then pours the tea in to all of the pre arranged cups in one circular movement. Filled just over half way. The Chinese believe the rest of the cup is filled with friendship and affection. A half full cup is then passed to each guest, who are invited to smell the tea first.
Guests then thank the server by tapping on the table three times with their finger. Next each guest pours their tea into a drinking cup and they are asked to smell the empty narrow cup. Finally…they drink the tea. To be most polite, one would drink the tea in its entirety in three swallows.
Are we as the British public daily experiencing our own version of the Chinese tea ceremonies?! Not as refined and artistic… but the sentiment of friendship as a thread running through all.
How often do we ‘put the kettle on’ when we have friends over to our homes? This is nearly always announced or assumed…either is flattering and welcoming. We even allow our closest friends and family the privilege of using our kettles to make their own drinks in our homes.
As a nation we seem to have decided tea is the solution for any problems, the fix for someone poorly or sad, the bonding agent for a conversation as well as the ideal introduction.
I have some American friends who cannot understand WHY we would drink tea on a boiling hot summers day, where as we were raised being told ‘drinking something hot will cool you down’.
Tea is a 365 days a year, whatever the circumstance, whatever the weather drink…hot and iced, green or white, loose or bags, in a cup, in a travel mug, whatever the time, as a nation we adore it.
It’s so nice to know we are all tied together with such a wonderful thing… thank you tea leaves! Maybe I should allow you to read my future after all.