Chinese tea culture refers to the methods of preparation of tea, the equipment used to make tea and the occasions in which tea is consumed in China. The terms chayi, 茶藝 ("Art of Tea") and "Tea Ceremony" have been used, but the term 茶文化 ("Tea Culture") includes more than just the ceremony. Also "culture" is easier to translate into English than the Chinese term 藝 ("art").
Tea culture in China differs from that of Europe, Britain or Japan in such things as preparation methods, tasting methods and the occasions for which it is consumed. Even now, in both casual and formal Chinese occasions, tea is consumed regularly. In addition to being a drink, Chinese tea is used in traditional Chinese medicine and inChinese cuisine.
Heating the teapot
Heating the teapot. for a thorough admiration of the tea fragrance, the teapot has to be heated first as a warming-up before the tea ceremony. The hot water can stay briefly within the pot, and tea admiration can be conducted at the same time.
It all starts from admiring the outward appearance of tea leaves, and then it is the expectation of tea soup, which is the necessary step in introducing the scenarios prefabricated by the tea master.
Hot water from the pot can be used directly to heat the cups. Attention should be given to every step of pouring water onto the cups, which can be regarded as an exercise of concentrating one's energy onto the fingertips.
Heating tea glasses
In summer,the water from heating the cups can be used to warm the glasses; in winter, separate hot water can be used for this purpose. The hot water in the glasses will not be poured out until just before tea soup is poured out of the pot.
Spherical or small-sized tea leaves can be placed into the teapot with a tea measure, while the fluffy or bar-shaped tea leaves can be placed by teaspoons, first by dragging the tools backward to loose up the tea leaves, and then by pushing the tools forward. If the tea measure is too small, it can be used as a moving slide, where tea leaves are gradually slipped into the teapot by turning around the tea caddy. This action should not be stopped near the sprout of the teapot for fear of getting it wet.
Pouring boiling water
Water has to be heated to the boiling point, and then it can be cooled according to the requirements of different tea. when the hot water is poured into the teapot from kettle, it has to be done from a low point and then the pouring point of the sprout can be hoisted upward. When the water in the teapot is 70-80% full, the pouring point should be lowered to approach the teapot.
The teapot is the hall for cultivation of tea ethics. In the same way when we face meditating monks who sit cross-legged, we should avoid anxiety and haste which may disrupt the whole environ for the tea ceremony. Tea serves can gaze at the teapot or ponder over some lofty things during the short wait and settle down and set his mind ease.
Letting out the soup
Pouring from the teapot should be like a diver's sudden jump into the air. At this time, one can loosen up the lid of the teapot to a certain angle, and then tighten it up. Subsequently one should lift up one's wrist at an angle of 90 degrees, and then relax the arm. When the tea soup is almost all poured out, stop the pouring action and restore the position of the teapot to a certain extent, before pouring out the rest of the tea soup. This is to avoid the bitter and astringent taste when tea leaves have been soaked for too long in the tea soup.
When serving tea, pay attention to the angle of the handless teacup.
The center of beak of the teacup should be slightly turned inwards, and this is convenient for controlling the flow of the tea soup.
The teacup is turned through force from the middle finger, so that the tea soup can slide down as slippery as olive oil.
Delivering the cup
Shallow saucers can highlight the streaks on the outside of the cup, but it is not easy to lift or raise the saucer. The V-shaped web between the thumb and the index finger can be leaned upon in delivering the teacup. Pay attention at this time to whether the teacups is held horizontally to avoid spilling the tea soup.
Eliminating the offscourings of tea leaves.
When the best tea soup is gone and it is beginning to be plain and tasteless, one should stop using the tea further. Admiring the tea leaves at the bottom of the teapot is liking saluting to the tea for the last time, like paying the last respect to a friend who is gone, solemnly, seriously and emotionally.
Cleaning the teapot.
When the offscourings of tea leaves have been poured out, hot water should be used to shower the whole body of the teapot, when the dust tea can be rinsed out immediately with force of the water.