by Guest Blogger Sarah Rosalind Roberts
Tea is deeply embedded in Chinese culture. It is steeped in history and rooted in thousands of years of tradition. In China, it is brewed as a drink for many different occasions and also has many symbolic meanings depending upon the situation.
Legend tells us the leaves of the camellia sinensis were discovered to be drinkable in 2737 BC when emperor Shen Nong was sitting in his garden sipping steaming water and a tea leaf dropped into his cup. He found the result of this to be refreshing and so tea, or cha as it’s also commonly known, was born.
The Chinese have a very different relationship with tea than we do in western culture. There are many aspects that I feel could improve both the way we view tea, but also how we drink it. Here are some ideas, influenced by Chinese culture, that could enhance your cuppa tea.
1 Take your time and enjoy
The Chinese preparation of Kung Fu cha is a slow and careful process of brewing tea.
It’s far away from the dip and squeeze tea bag method we’re more accustomed to in the west. They allow time to brew the tea, and also have intermediary steps between steeping and drinking. These steps involve pouring the tea into a pitcher cup to thoroughly distribute the tea and then into an aroma cup, with another aroma cup placed on top. The tea is then flipped into the top cup and inhaled prior to moving it to the tasting cup.
It’s a very long process, but what it teaches us is that good tea is worthy of this type of ceremony. So next time you think about dipping and shaking your tea bag, take a breath and take your time to appreciate the smell and taste of the leaves.
2 Invest in a good teapot
The Chinese are renowned for their Yixing clay tea pots, which are porous and the oil in the tea builds up over time creating a very distinct flavour. If you’re not able to find this type of teapot, you could invest in a beautiful fine bone china teapot, such as this one, which will help you enjoy your tea.
3 Chinese tea etiquette
There are several nuggets of Chinese tea etiquette that you could apply to your tea drinking habits. Whilst pouring tea for a guest, lifting the pot three times signifies you are bowing to them and when you place the teapot down, make sure the spout is not facing anyone as it is considered impolite.
Adopting a Chinese mindset towards tea will help you to appreciate its flavour and aroma, allowing you to develop a deeper relationship with those lovely leaves.
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