Chinese Tea Culture
Information About Chinese Tea Culture
Chinese tea culture is at the very heart of Chinese culture and society. Although there are regional differences in exactly the way a Chinese tea ceremony is done, the fact that it is central to every household, even the poorest, attests to the fact of how important it is in society. Ancient Taoist philosophy influences how it is done.
In Mandarin Chinese, the word "tea" is pronounced "cha".
Kinds of Chinese tea
There are quite a few different kinds of Chinese tea. Green tea, oolong tea, red tea (known in the West as black tea), white tea, yellow tea, puerh tea, and flower tea, like Jasmine, are all part of Chinese tea culture. Very hot water is used in most tea brewing, except with green tea, in which the water is not quite as hot. It is the most delicate of the teas.
How is Chinese tea served?
There are two basic ways that Chinese tea can be served. The first is known as Chaou brewing. In this aspect of Chinese tea culture, a ceramic set is used. It consists of a small round cup, a lid, and a saucer that all match.
Sometimes a tiny cylindrical cup is used for sniffing, since smelling the tea is at least as important as tasting it. Loose tea is used, as in all Chinese tea drinking. Tea bags and compressed teas are a thing of the West. Chaou tea drinking is less formal than the second method called Gongfu.
The Gongfu method in Chinese tea culture requires a complete tea set, including a tray to hold the implements and the water that is poured off the tea, and an yixing clay tea pot that holds about 100-150 ml. The quality of the tea pot is of extreme importance to sophisticated Chinese tea drinkers. To test for a reasonably good tea pot, take the lid off and turn it upside down. If it sits evenly, the tea pot is good.
In general, the Chinese tea pot is wet before beginning the brewing, and the first pot of tea is for washing the leaves, so it is poured into the tray. Traditionally the youngest member of the family serves the tea to the older ones. The tea should only be steeped for about 30 seconds. Several infusions can come from one Chinese pot of tea, but then the tea leaves will be discarded, and a second portion will be put into the pot.
Participating in Chinese tea culture is one of the most pleasant activities you can have when visiting a Chinese country. If you are teaching there, students will invite you for tea, either in a tea shop or in some other wonderful place.
Best places in Taiwan to explore Chinese tea customs
One of the best places in Taiwan to enjoy tea is in a small artists' colony in Jiufen. Jiufen sits on the side of a mountain, and you can enjoy the marvelous view of the ocean and mountains side by side while you drink and talk. Either sitting for hours in a traditional tea shop talking, or enjoying tea in someone's home, is an experience not to be missed.
Further info about Chinese tea in Taiwan
Other places that are popular for tea in Taiwan are Alishan, Maokong, Yingge, and Pinglin. You can also read this article about Taiwanese Tea.
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