September 17, 2021
How do you use a traditional Chinese tea set?
Step 1: Rinse the pot. If you haven't used the teapot for a while, rinse it out first with hot water.
Step 2: Put tea into tea pot.
Never use your hands or metal to handle the tea leaves. Use only scoops made of bamboo or wood. The best way to store tea is in a glass jar, in the refrigerator.
The amount of tea you add depends on the number of people you plan to serve. Typically fill the small pot 1/4 to 1/3 full with dry tea leaves.
Step 3: Heat water.
Depending on what type of tea you are making, you will heat the water to different temperatures. Water for green tea should never be brought to boiling. It should only be heated enough so that tiny bubbles are rising from the bottom of the kettle (about 85°C).
Water for jasmine tea can be a little hotter, and water for Oolong (wulong) or black can be boiling (100°C).
Never heat water in a microwave for tea, nor use the instant hot water dispensers available in some sinks. Heat it in the traditional method—in a kettle, on a stove.
The water from the kettle should then be poured into a large clay teapot. A cozy placed around the large teapot will keep it warm.
Step 4: Pour water out from this large teapot into the small teapot from some distance, until the leaves are covered with water.
Almost immediately after hot water has been poured into the small teapot, pour out the water among the small tea cups.
You will not drink this tea. The purpose of this pour is to season and warm the cups.
Step 5: Refill the teapot with water.
Then empty the teacups from the first pouring over the tea pot. This keeps the teapot warm and helps cure the clay of the tea pot.
Step 6: Pour out the tea into the tea cups. Note that this first serving of tea should only actually "brew" for 10-30 seconds. By the time you have finished emptying the cups over the tea pot, it is time to pour out the tea from the tea pot into the cups.
With each subsequent infusion, add approximately 30 seconds to the brewing time. A good tea will produce a minimum of 3 infusions.
Step 7: Place the tea cup in a lacquer, wood, or bamboo holder. Offer to your guest. If you are the guest, receive the tea cup and holder with both hands.
To drink the tea, hold the tea cup holder with your left hand and lift the tea cup gently with the fingers of your right hand. Each tea cup will hold 2 or 3 sips of tea.
The best quality tea is expensive, even in bulk, but still less expensive and much higher quality than what you can get in tea bags. For comparison, you can easily pay $100 per pound for green tea in China. You wouldn't usually buy a whole pound of tea, however, just a quarter pound at a time.
The four teas we tasted during our class were: West Lake Dragon Well (green), Green Peak of Tongting Lake (green), Tie Guanyin (oolong), and Pu Er Cha (black).