Brewing Chinese tea is an art in itself, it includes a whole tea ceremony. There are not a lot of places in China where you can find tea ceremonies. If you ask, Annie will show you how to make good quality tea offering you a lesson that will enhance your taste experience.
For example she suggests that with Green Tea the water temperature should be around 80 degrees. White Teas should also be brewed with water at 80 degrees but steeped for longer than normal to allow the finer flavors and aromas to develop. Where as with Black teas the water should be as hot as possible.
Making a good quality cup of tea is a complex process and people study for years to attain the status of Tea Master. You also need the right Tea Tools for the job probably including a Tea Tray to catch the excess water that is produced during the brewing of the tea. Even without years of training and all the correct tools you can still have a go and Annie generously agreed to describe for us how to brew a quality cup of tea so you can all try this at home:
Brewing Chinese tea:
- Boil water.
- Rinse the tea bowl with hot water.
- Fill the tea bowl with tea leaves up to one third of the height of the pot.
- Rinse the tea leaves by filling the tea bowl with hot water up to half full and draining the water immediately leaving only tea leaves behind.
- Pour more hot water into the tea bowl avoiding the formation of any bubbles. The infusion should not be steeped for too long: 30 seconds is an appropriate maximum for the first brew.
- Pour the infusion into small serving pot within a minute by continuously moving the tea around over the strainer as it pours. Be sure to drain all the water from the tea bowl so the tea does not stew.
- The serving pot is then used to decant individual portions of the liquid to drinking cups. Each cup of tea is expected to have the same flavour, aroma and colour.
- Pour excess tea from the serving pot and drinking cups and thoroughly wash down all the implements.
- Then repeat the process. It is possible to draw three or four good infusions from a single pot of tea, but subsequent infusions must be steeped for a little longer.
After a person’s cup is filled, that person may knock their bent index and middle fingers (or some similar variety of finger tapping) on the table to express gratitude to the person who served the tea. This custom is said to have originated in the Qing Dynasty when Emperor Qian Long would travel in disguise through the empire.
Servants were told not to reveal their master’s identity. One day in a restaurant, the emperor, after pouring himself a cup of tea, filled
a servant’s cup as well. To that servant it was a huge honor to have the emperor pour him a cup of tea. Out of reflex he wanted to kneel and express his thanks. He could not kneel and kowtow to the emperor since that would reveal the emperor’s identity so he bent his fingers on the table to express his gratitude and respect to the emperor.
Annie’s tea rooms are always buzzing with activity as local people pop into chat or to purchase tea. Often you will see someone sitting gazing onto a tiny glass cup as they muse over the clarity of the tea, inhaling the aroma and savoring the fragrance of the tea before deciding on a purchase. It even happens that a customer will inspect the fineness of the mesh in the tea strainer before making a final decision. Other people come to socialize, share local gossip and enjoy Annie’s ebullient company. The shop stocks a full range of Tea Tools including smelling cups, tasting cups, serving pots, tea bowls, strainers, kettles and tea trays. The list is endless but the important thing is Annie can also sell you the tea you need to go with the tools.
If you visit the Seven Star Tea House, on occasion you may get the opportunity to sit with a Tea Master who will share with you their own private collection of teas from some of the thousands available in China. At master-classes like this these tea professionals will wow you with their knowledge of tea and like a good chef will delight your taste buds with their rare brews. Annie will also organize tea ceremonies for groups so you can experience the ritual yourself and sample a range of teas. Or you can sit down with her and get lessons on how to make tea from a real expert. As a qualified tour guide Annie can also organize day trips to the Seven Stars Tea Plantation where you can see the tea being produced and enjoy a day out in the countryside around Yangshuo with its stunning mountain top views.
Tea drinking is an elegant pastime, a relaxing and healthy way to pass the time in good company with good conversation. This old tradition is very much on the comeback in modern China, you could say it is a sign of the times and an indicator of the way peoples lives have improved over the last twenty years. Tea culture also reflects the history and traditional values of Chinese culture and the people here celebrate the old ways now with a tasty cup of tea. It is said that when you get up in the morning there are seven things to think about: oil, salt, wood, rice, soy sauce, vinegar and tea!
To book a Tea Ceremony, Tea Lesson or Tasting contact us on the details below. Groups, individuals and parties welcome. Use our form to contact Annie Zhou or call #8613807830496