I don’t need to tell you that tea is an art in China and like building great walls they know what they’re doing. Today I visited my friend’s tea shop and she demonstrated the basic steps and let me, Aimee and James have a try.
1. Wash the bowls
Using boiling water (100 degrees centigrade) the tea bowl and all the drinking bowls are washed.
2. Warm the tea bowl
The tea leaves are brewed in a small bowl but before you can put them into the bowl you have to warm the bowl with boiling water.
3. Smell the tea
Once the tea bowl is warmed you empty out the water and put the tea leaves inside. Then you put the lid on and shake the bowl to release the scent of the leaves. Then you lift the lid and smell the leaves.
4. Cool down the water
Before adding water to the leaves you have to cool it down. The water should be 85 degrees centigrade and to get it to the right temperature you pour it between two small jugs.
5. Brew the tea
Now it’s time to add water to the leaves but the water mustn’t directly touch the leaves. Instead you pour the water onto the side of the tea bowl. Then you place the lid on top and leave it for a minute or two. As we were using green tea we left it for a very short time to avoid the tea tasting bitter.
6. Drain the tea
Next a sieve is placed on top of one of the jugs and the tea is emptied into it to remove the leaves.
7. Pour the tea
Once the tea leaves have been removed the tea is poured into the drinking bowls from right to left in Taoist tradition or from any bowl in Confucianism tradition. The bowls are only filled up to 70 per cent; any more than that is bad.
8. Enjoy the tea
First you hold your drinking bowl to your nose and smell the tea. Then you take a small sip to taste it. Then you can drink as much as you like.
Music and Tea Art
Tea Art may also be performed with musical accompaniment in the form of a vertical harp. We were treated to hearing Dan Dan playing whilst Alice made tea.