don't have to be a tea house master to brew tea.
Each action has its specific procedures and steps.
Brewing tea is about mastering the fundamental
steps, understanding the quality of tea, water
and tea equipment, and all aspects of drinking
tea, so that the resulting brew is based on each
tea's unique qualities. It is not necessary to
simply focus on the steps and neglect the leisurely
enjoyment of tea.
tea is a delicate, elegant art. Brewing and drinking
tea is a way to upgrade yourself, and cultivate
your physical and mental faculties. How one brews
tea reflects one's accomplishments, tastes, interests
and heritage. Brewing a good pot of tea, enjoying
a cup of tea - this is the culmination of a number
of detailed steps. Whether you're brewing tea
for yourself or to share with friends, or merely
to quench a thirst, the act of putting some tea
leaves into boiling water results in a cup of
to add a level of spiritual enjoyment to the tea-drinking
experience, the overall brewing process requires
attention to methodology and skill. Relax and
take your time in picking the tea leaves and water,
preparing the tea set, and then brewing, sipping
and appraising your tea. A full understanding
of these tiny details of this art will enable
you to brew a cup of smooth, fragrant tea that
provides comfort and pleasure to yourself and
others. Not only does this promote good rapport,
one can easily and creatively make use of the
various combination of tea utensils and methodologies
and enjoy the many facets of tea culture.
Detailed tips for brewing tea
behavior, posture and environment
Generally, we brew tea while sitting down). We
should sit upright, with both feet close together,
drawn slightly to the back. Avoid extending your
legs so that you won't knock into someone else's
legs; it is considered discourteous. Your spine
should be naturally straight to reflect your alertness.
Whenever there is a lull in activity, cross your
hands on your lap or lay them gently on a tea
towel. Excessive hand movement is considered crude
- pay more attention to this aspect. In terms
of clothing, you should be dressed comfortably
and conveniently, neither too formal nor casual.
The environment should be tidy, hygienic and comfortable.
Tea lovers prefer a clean and comfortable ambience
that is elegantly furnished, with soothing music
to delight the body and mind, calm emotions and
beautify the atmosphere.
and layout of tea utensils
To brew different types of tea, you must use the
compatible tea utensils. Hand movements must be
skillfully executed throughout the entire brewing
process. Arrange the utensils according to the
tea brewer's preference and convenience. Remember,
you must use your left hand to take items from
the left, and similarly for the right. After taking
each object, change hands, mindful that each hand
has its own area to take care of. Use the simplest
paths when taking or putting down objects, not
complicated routes that involve criss-crossing
brewing tea, take into consideration the number
of tea drinkers and the size of the pot. Avoid
taking out more tea leaves than necessary. Leftover
tea leaves cannot be returned to the tea box.
Tea leaves that have been exposed to the air for
too long will oxidize and deteriorate; if returned
to the box, such leaves will affect the quality
of the tea within. The tea towel is another indispensable
part of the tea-brewing kit. It should be folded
flat and kept on standby to wipe tea utensils
or the bottom of the tea cup, to remove stains
and watermarks. Do not use the tea towel to wipe
the tea tray, or as a tablecloth.
the tea cup
Before brewing the tea, you must warm the tea
cup. Grasp the bottom or lower half of the cup.
For handle-less porcelain or glass cups, for example,
try as far as possible to keep the cup flat/even
to contain the water in the centre and prevent
spillage. Rotate the cup anti-clockwise once;
move forward, back, left and right in a circular
motion, then pour warm water into a tea pitcher.
Avoid touching the edge of the cup which will
come into contact with the lips. When warming
a covered cup, use your left hand to hold the
lower half of the cup, and keep your right hand
on the lid, and rotate the cup anti-clockwise.
Then lift the lid, turn it, and pour the water
out into the bowl.
tips for handling the teapot
Regardless of whether you're warming or holding
the teapot and cup, attention must be paid to
the size and weight, whether you can move your
hands unimpeded. There is not much difference
in handling porcelain, clay, glass, purple clay
(Zisha) teapots etc. The standard way of holding
a tea pot is by pinching the curved pot handle
with the thumb and middle finger, while using
the index finger to press the lid lightly (but
avoid closing over the hole in the lid), the ring
finger should be resting on the handle, and the
little finger curved inwards. Beginners can use
the middle finger of the other hand to press the
lid down with the same method. At intervals during
the tea brewing process, avoid pointing the tea
spout directly at guests, as it shows disrespect.
Tea-brewing also involves other utensils: tea
server ("Char hoi") - freshly brewed
tea is poured into a tea server before it is evenly
distributed for drinking; filtration net - to
filter out the residual tea leaves after pouring
from the tea server; snifter ("Mun Heong")
cup - pour the brewed tea into the cup, rub both
sides of the cup and then inhale the resultant
fragrance; tea dish ("char hor") - to
hold tea leaves; "tea knife" - to loosen
compressed tea, such as brick tea or tea cakes
so that it can be used for brewing.
additional six tools ensures that the tea-brewing
process is hygienic and decent. These six items
includes a tea funnel, which is placed at the
mouth of the pot to prevent tea leaves from spilling
out; a tea scoop to take out the tea leaves from
the container; a tweezer to lift the cup; a tea
measurer to apportion the correct quantity of
tea leaves; a tea needle to unblock the leaves
that are stuck in the spout; a pot brush to clean
the teapot and improve its appearance. When handling
these six items, avoid touching the area which
comes into contact with the tea leaves.
etiquette and steps made easy
Before brewing, ensure that the amount of tea
leaves correspond to the number of guests. Water
quality and temperature is also an important part
of tea culture. Without good water you can't bring
out the sweetness, no matter how good the tea
is. Since ancient times, spring water was considered
the best for brewing tea. But in a modern urban
environment, where spring water is not readily
available, mineral water and purified water can
be used. Different teas are also brewed differently.
The right water temperature must be attained to
match the different kinds of tea apparatus. For
example, porcelain and purple clay ("Zisha")
pots are recommended for oolong tea, which must
be brewed with boiling water; green tea should
be brewed with water at about 80 degrees, using
glass or ceramic containers.
a tea-brewing process, the hot water should be
poured from a height and collected from below.
The water must be poured rhythmically into the
teapot in three movements of ups and downs, so
that water flows in one continuous stream. After
the teapot is full, pour the tea into a tea server,
then divide the tea equally. The process of collecting
and dividing the tea should take place at a low
height, to avoid dissipating the aroma and prevent
spillage. The tea server only needs to be slightly
higher than the tea cup, but cannot touch the
rim of the cup. Fill the cup until 70% full, leaving
about 1/3 empty as a mark of respect.
enjoying your tea, it is time to clean the tea
utensils. Tea leaves that have been left behind
in the teapot for too long will stain the pot
and leave behind debris, and if used again, will
interfere with the quality and flavor of the tea.
While cleaning tea utensils, especially Zisha
teapots, do not use detergent, as it will also
affect the tea. Rinse with only clean or hot water.
After washing, use a dry tea towel to wipe dry
and then store properly.
ways of brewing different tea
amount of tea leaves
and water ratio of 1:22
seconds (brief at the beginning, longer at
a later stage)
to age of the tea, personal taste and number
minutes after the first brief period
and water ratio of 1:30
Identifying the quality of water used for brewing
to the Tang Dynasty, tea was already common, but
a variety of fragrant and spicy ingredients were
added into the brew. Under these conditions, the
tea's color, smell and taste are not so critical.
Therefore the requirement on water quality is
not high. From the Tang Dynasty onwards, with
the increase in tea products, tea appreciation
became increasingly popular, as was the demand
for higher water quality.
fact, the quality of water can directly affect
the merits of the tea. Then and now, the subject
of water cannot be excluded from discussions about
tea. Therefore, assessment of water quality is
an essential skill for a tea master.
connoisseurs have many diverse opinions on water,
each with its own logic. From a comprehensive
and practical viewpoint, emphasis is placed on
lightness, body, sweetness, "life",
i.e. the water should be clear, light and "alive".
"A good tea's aroma is released by water;
speak not of tea when there is no water."
Simply put, the true taste of a good tea cannot
be realized without good water.
in a modern metropolis, the most readily available
and preferred water is mineral water; bottled
spring water can be used to brew tea. Spring water
contains carbon dioxide and various trace elements
which are beneficial to the human body, as they
have been filtered through layers of rock and
sand, resulting in crystal clear water. Only minimal
chlorine and iron compounds are present. Brewing
tea with this kind of spring water will bring
out the best of a tea's color, smell, taste and
"form". Through advances in modern science
and technology, our common drinking water is already
pure as it has been filtered many times. The water
has also attained a neutral pH that is suitable
for making tea. Tea that is prepared from this
pure water has superior aroma, purity in taste,
is free from foreign flavors, and refreshing.
water generally contains iron, chlorine and other
particles. This is especially true for water that
has stayed in iron pipes for a long time; it contains
higher amounts of iron. This water does not lend
itself to making tea, as it will affect quality
and aroma; the resultant tea will be brownish.
It is much better to use water filter to purify
the water before using it for making tea. Another
simple and modern way to improve the quality of
tap water is to store it directly inside a specially
made anti-oxidant vessel. For the anti-oxidation
effect to take place in the water, at least five
hours of storage time is required. Based on medical
reports, anti-oxidant water has a significant
impact on human health; it belongs to the "live"
water category that can be drunk directly. Anti-oxidant
water is also very suitable to brew tea. The "live"
character, light quality and sweet aroma of this
water will help to bring out the fragrance and
sweetness of tea.
The basics of tea utensils
utensils are an integral part of tea culture in
ancient China. Tea utensils have undergone an
epoch-making evolution since its emergence, reflecting
the historical context and development of tea
culture. With its nutritional composition and
medicinal efficacy already proven by modern medicine,
the custom of drinking tea for health is even
more prevalent than in the past, with drinking
for the purpose of thirst-quenching fading in
importance. Tea has become part of our everyday
beverages, with attention given to the taste and
the art of drinking. Along with these changes
in tea-drinking habits, tea varieties and special
characteristics, there is a higher demand and
more comprehensive standards for its utensils.
Not only is the practical aspect emphasised, there
is also focus on shape, material, color and inscription,
from the crude to the delicate process, reflecting
the different requirements of the art. The basics
in classifying and selecting tea utensils are
also an essential part of a tea maker's skill
with the same kind of tea leaves and brewing methods,
using utensils of different qualities will yield
different colors, aromas and tastes. Modern tea
brewers continue to innovate different brewing
methods. There is a wide range of tea utensils;
the most popular types can be broadly classified
into the following categories:
Ceramic Tea Sets
Among this kind of tea sets, we should be pushing
for the forerunner, i.e Zisha tea utensils produced
in Yi Heng, a district in China. The most common
tea utensils are the Zisha pots. The advantage
of brewing tea with a Zisha pot is that it retains
the tea's original flavor. It is resistant to
high heat and heat transmission is slow, so it
won't scald your hands; it can breathe, it's durable;
and after prolonged use, even normal water that
is poured into the utensil acquires the tea's
fragrance. The outside of the pot won't become
dirty after prolonged use, but increases in luster
instead. It is a favorite of many collectors.
Zisha utensils are suited for making Pu'er tea,
Yancha oolong tea, Tie Guan Yin, re-fermented
tea like Oriental Beauty.
Porcelain Tea Set
This is the most widely used type of tea utensil.
All types of tea utensils - lidded cups, pots,
fair cup, snifter ("Mun heong") cup,
tea tray, tea pitcher, trays, etc. - have their
own characteristics. There are several varieties
e.g. white porcelain, celadon, black porcelain,
as well as a vitreous enamel colors, pastels,
bucket color, blue and white porcelain with and
so on. These utensils are suitable for brewing
Tie Guanyin tea, oolong tea, kung fu tea, Taiwanese
high mountain tea, scented tea, Pu'er and so on.
Its advantages are: the texture, transparency,
beauty, can watch "Tea Dance" and the
color of tea. By using a transparent utensil as
a boiler, you can gauge the water temperature
from observing the air bubbles which form. The
disadvantage is that it heats up fast and scalds
the hands. It is commonly used for brewing green
tea, white tea, "Jun San Yuin Zhen"
(Jun San Silver Needle), a type of yellow tea.
Through the transparent glass, you can enjoy the
beauty ("fung choy") of the three "up
and down" movements.
& Wood Tea Set
Bamboo (bamboo and wood) tea sets have a natural
beauty and easily moulded, and have exhibition
and collection value. They are commonly used to
make tea trays, the six tea items, "tea sea",
tea tables, and so on.
tea utensils include stainless steel water boilers.
In addition, the lacquered tea set, stoneware,
jade - these tea sets are nice to look at, but
not very practical. When selecting tea utensils,
consider the type of tea leaves, brewing method
and the number of drinkers; choose a teapot with
the appropriate capacity and suitability for the
leaves. All the tea utensils should be combined
in such a way that the colour is harmonious; nevertheless
the auxiliary items like tea box, tea bowl etc
can be ingenious in its design yet flexible enough
to suit your convenience.